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  2. Do you mean an actual object like a pickguard, or just a location somewhere on the top? I have seen the occasional dulcimer with a designed "wrist rest" at the tail end -- a sort of wooden arch over the the bridge area. Most players, certainly the expert players who I know, don't anchor or rest their wrist when strumming. We're moving up and down the fretboard with the pick, so that the strum is happening closest to the center of the vibrating string as its length changes. Personally, I'm an 'outie' strummer more than an 'innie' or back-and-forth strummer, so I often use my little finger to tap the instrument back on my lap during the 'backstroke' from my out-strum.
  3. I have noticed that some dulcimer players have a spot on their dulcimer where they can kind of rest/balance their hand while strumming. Does anyone know what this is called?
  4. Last week
  5. How To Become A Better Dulcimer Player - 10 Intros and Outros There are many ways to start and to end a song. We will discuss a few of them in order for you to become a better dulcimer player. How many times have you been at a practice or jam and the person calling the songs says one of the following: “Go” - “And” - “1-2-3-4”. Is there anything wrong with this? Not really; however, there are better and more efficient ways to begin your play and to end it. With the above “Intros” each player will usually start and continue at a different place and tempo. Not good! Introductions: The purpose of an introduction is not only for your audience, but also for your fellow players to know when to start the song and what the tempo will be. It may also give your audience (if you have one) a teaser of what is to follow. At our local club meetings and jams, each player on rotation, names the song title and he/she calls out the number of measures they will play to introduce the song and to set the tempo. All other players can visually/orally follow along and then begin playing at the proper place. How many measures are necessary to introduce the song? There are no set number of measures; however, a recognizable phrase from the song usually works well and gets everyone, players and audience ready for what follows. What is a recognizable phrase? If you have words to your song, the words should determine your recognizable phrase. i.e In the song “Amazing Grace” a good recognizable phrase would be: “Was blind, but now I see”. Another method of introduction is to play the major chords of the song’s key before all others begin to play. If your song is in the Key of D, playing a D chord followed by an G chord followed by an A chord usually works well. If you song is in the Key of G, playing a G-C-D series of chords is a nice introduction. How many of each chord should you play? That depends upon the song itself. Is it a slow song? A fast song? Should a chord be held for an entire measure or played multiple times within a measure? Each song will require a different set of chords and note values. Your ear will be the best judge of that. Outros: Is there any way to properly end a song? The short answer is “No”. The long answer is “It depends”. Most players/groups end a song by playing the last note or chord in the last measure. There is nothing wrong in that. If you would like to add a little bit of finesse and/or variety to a song, you may do as above in the Introduction section of this article with some modification. As in the example above, you can end as song by playing a series of chords from the song’s key. In this instance, I like to use a modified series of chords. Instead of playing (in the Key of D) a D-G-A, you can play a D-G-D. If in the Key of G, you can play a G-C-G. This works for all the keys by playing the I-IV-I chords. another way to end is a song is to repeat the recognizable phrase that you used as an introduction. As in the above example, for the song, "Amazing Grace", repeating the notes that comprise, "Was blind, but now I see", will end the song nicely. My methods, in this article, and others are not the final word on “How To Do It”. They are only presented in the hope to help you to become a better dulcimer player.  
  6. it broke right by the tuning peg, i have all the strings off ( i labeled them as i took them off i think they could be used on a slighter shorter VSL instrument ) and i'm going to try tuning by ear with the sound samples as best i can before checking it with the app.
  7. I only ever put about two loops on the tuning pegs. Through the hole, around and back through the hole again; and trim off the rest. A zillion loops around the peg before you come up to tune does nothing to make tuning any easier and just makes the tuning head look cluttered. Where did that melody string break? At the tuner end or the loop end or in the middle? With those gauges of strings on that VSL you should NOT be trying to tune up to the key G. A set of strings like that can tune from BFF to FCC without being too floppy or too tight, but they will not allow you to tune up to key of G without breaking usually the bass string. Admin posted above good audio clips of what the D tunings should sound like. I suggest you try to duplicate one of those and learn to play it, rather than searching for some 'clear open note' that you associate with dulcimers. Those audio clips are what dulcimer players play in the key of D. We usually play together in the key of D, but as solo performers/players play in anything from B to F without changing strings, and up in G or down in A with different string sets.
  8. ah i see what you're saying about tuning backwards lol, and thank you for the pdf i'll make sure to read through it before i do more to the dulcimer. just a quick clarification though, it was one of the .012 strings that broke when i tried tuning it to a higher D. right now the remaining .012 string is sitting at a G EDIT: and i'm going to replace the strings in the morning i only have about half a turn on each one, glad i bought two sets at the start.
  9. You've got the tuning backwards! Tunings are normally, these days, expressed from the bass string to the melody string; not the other way around. Tuning to DAA should have the bass string at D and the A strings 5 notes higher in pitch. A .022 string will almost always break if you try to tune it up to G on a 27" VSL. DAd tuning has the bass string at D, the middle drone string at A and the melody string(s) at d, an octave higher in pitch. If one of your tuners shows the octave as well as the note, you want DAA to all be in the 3rd octave: D3 A3 A3. Key of G tuning is actually G3 d4 d4 because the ds are in the next higher octave. Tuning letterings are usually shown as C' D' E' F' G' A' B' C D E F G A B c d e f g a b c' d' e' etc. I've attached a copy of Ken Hulme's free article called I Just Got A Dulcimer, Now What? which is written for new players with little or no musical background. There are answers to many beginner questions like "Which D is D?" and "How Do I Tune This Thing?" I Just Got A.pdf
  10. i dug the package back out of my shop trashcan and the strings are .012 .012 .014 .022 so thickness seems alright, rechecked the VSL and its right on 27". when i tried tuning up one of them broke leaving me one each of .012 .014 .022 so still playable putting some tension on the remaining strings and adjusting from there got me to G (.012) D (.014) D (.022) which at least sounds clean. there is also every possibility that i'm not using the app/clip on tuner correctly (no musical experience) i also just looked at the head again and i'm thinking i didnt wrap enough string around the tuners. how many wraps should i have? i have second set of strings i could put on it, same brand same gage.
  11. The nickel and dime means that the string height should just touch the top of a nickel placed on the top of the seventh fret and the top of a dime next to the first fret.
  12. Does a "nickel and dime" height mean that a stacked penny and dime should fit under the strings or something different?
  13. Make sure you move your right hand as your left hand comes higher on the fretboard; so that your picking is occurring half-way between the fretted location and the nut. That's where the 'action' will be easiest. I'm assuming here that you have a low action height -- at a minimum a "nickel & dime" low height.
  14. Welcome to the dulcimer world Tim! If you have any questions, ask away. There're aren't any dumb questions, just ones you don't ask.
  15. Thank you for your response. I have been playinging this piece finger style, like how Nina Zanetti plays it. When I use my pick, I don't have a problem playing the notes. Its just when using my fingers that it becomes quite difficult. Suggestions?
  16. It sounds like you may not be pressing hard enough on the frets. That could account for issues 2, 3, and 4. They tend to require more pressure on the higher number frets. I've had difficulty with this myself. Recently I've been working on playing a version of Whiskey Before Breakfast that plays in the upper octave (7th fret up) and all of these are true. The notes being more difficult to pluck is due to the shorter vibrating string length when fretting higher up. These are inherent problems in playing in the upper notes. Some things that might help: Try tuning down a whole step and see if it's easier (If you're playing DAd, try CGc for example) Lighter gauge strings may make it easier to play In addition to the above, a thinner pick may help with the strings being harder to pluck. Hopefully some of that will help. Let us know what you try and if it's helpful.
  17. I made a quick recording of a freshly tuned dulcimer for DAdd and DAAA. Maybe these will help as a tuning reference. DAAA.mp3 DAdd.mp3
  18. What string gauges did you go with? For DAdd you'll probably want something around a .012 on the melody strings, .015 on the middle, and .024 on the bass. Up or down a thousandth of an inch or two should still be ok. For DAAA you might go with 0.014 on the 3 A strings and .024 on the bass. As Ken mentioned, you may just be tuned an octave low. The strings are usually tight enough to sound at that point when tuning up, but will be very floppy. Assuming the string gauges are good, one thing you can try is to slowly increase the tension until the strings feel right and see what the tuning looks like at that point. And then adjust up or down a little to DAdd.
  19. Wife bought a inexpensive applecreek for my birthday. Trying to learn more about it.
  20. There could be two problems here. The strings might not be the proper gauge for the notes you are trying to achieve , DAd or DAA, for your vibrating string length (VSL). The other is that you may be tuning an octave lower than you should.
  21. alright i thought i was done and was going to post some "finished" pics but the strings don't seem to have enough tension, i'm not getting a clear open note that "i" associate with dulcimers. even though my clip on tuner and my cellphone app both say its in tune. any thoughts?
  22. I have been working on Nina Zanetti's arrangement of Annie Laurie. I am playing this fingerstyle since that is what Nina does. However, when I get to the second half of the song I find the following: 1. Notes difficult to pluck 2. Notes sounding tinny, sharp and separate 3. Difficulty in making the music flow. 4. Some buzzing also Does anyone have any suggestions?
  23. Earlier
  24. Good catch Ken - reading it the other way threw me off. It is indeed a nickel on the 7th fret!
  25. Remember that it is the dime next to first fret and the nickel on top of the seventh fret. Not the last fret. A dime is 0.051 or 51/1000 ths of an inch thick. A nickel is 0.071 or 71/1000 ths of an inch thick. Using your thicknesses above for a dime (1/16th inch) and (1/8th inch) or 0.063 thousandths and 0.125 inch, your action would be a little high. Ken "The dulcimer sings a sweet song."
  26. The dime at the first fret, nickle at the last on top of the 7th fret is a good rule of thumb. It's not really related to skill level, but more so ease of play and intonation. When the string is pressed down, the tension on it is raised. Lower action will be easier to press down (less force needed) when fretting and less fatiguing. There's another effect going on related to the string tension. The more the string has to be pressed down, the higher the tension will be when it's fretted and this can affect intonation (how close the fretted notes are to what they're intended be). This is usually slight and doesn't significantly affect playing, but keeping the action low will reduce intonation problems. Sometimes fret spacing will be designed for higher action or you'll hear about compensated bridges that slightly change the vibrating string length (VSL) to compensation for different tension. Not something to worry about to get a playable instrument, but just giving you some background if you want to dig deeper. I wouldn't worry about it for this build as it's not extremely critical. One other question that may come up is the string gauge. For the 27" VSL you chose, .012 for melody, .015 for middle, and .024 (wound) for bass should work well if you're planning to tune DAdd.
  27. thanks i'll make a post in the beginners playing area once i get the strings on it, there seems to be no shortage of tutorials on YouTube. what string action should i make it? the common recommendation i see is 1/16(or a dime) at the first fret and 1/8(nickle) at the last is that good for a beginner?
  28. That's great! I've been taking some online dulcimer lessons over the past few weeks and they've worked out really well. I still prefer meeting in person, but online classes have been fun too. Barely 2 weeks until Quarantune, I'm looking forward to it!
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