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EverythingDulcimer

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  1. I started out with diatonic and have only dabbled occasionally with chromatic. Being familiar with the fret pattern on a diatonic, I didn't have a lot of difficulty adjusting to playing on chromatic but there are tradeoffs. The extra frets (there are only 4 more in addition to a diatonic with a 6+ fret) weren't a huge barrier for me, but they do require more precise playing. I often play a little further back from the fret when playing some chords than I probably should but on a diatonic that's less of an issue as long as it's not buzzing. Visually a chromatic lacks the wide/narrow spaces which can be a helpful guide. Diatonic is a little more forgiving/intuitive there. The biggest sound difference I notice is in slides. On a diatonic all the notes except (6 or 6+) will be in the scale so slides sound a bit different on chromatic. Often I think the diatonic slides sound better in the music I play. For playing some genres like Jazz, being able to change to any key during the same song or getting 7th, diminished, 9th, etc. chords in any key is something that would be a struggle on a diatonic instrument. It's possible to get some of it with alternate tunings on a diatonic dulcimer, but like guitar, chord shapes on a chromatic are completely movable and will play the same type of chord anywhere on the fretboard, which is handy if you might need to play in any of the 12 keys. For playing fiddle tunes or Appalachian/European/Medieval folk music, the a diatonic is perfect for that. Most of the repertoire usually stays within a key/mode, so at most you may need to transpose the music or retune the dulcimer.
  2. Welcome! You're on the right track. That fret is usually called the "six and a half fret" so as not cause confusion with instruments that don't have it. On tab it'll usually be noted as 6+, 6.5, or 6½. Most of the dulcimers made these days will have the 6.5 fret. Sometimes there will also be a fret between 1 and 2 added, which is the "one and a half fret", likewise notated as 1+, 1.5, or 1½. Rarely someone will have other half frets added between other whole steps. That's unusual if you have tab that notates the octave as 8. I haven't seen dulcimer tab written that way before, that's usually kept as 7 with any extra frets indicated as above. It makes it easier when switching instruments to not have to renumber the frets and also allows tabs to be used across dulcimers. (Say if your dulcimer has a 1+ fret, all the numbers past 1 don't get pushed up again) The only exception I've seen is for fully chromatic dulcimer where sometimes numbering like a guitar is used (0,1,2,3,4... with 12 being the octave) instead of 0, 0+, 1, 1+, 2, 2+, 3, 4, 5, 5+, 6, 6+, 7, etc. Though I've seen that tabbed both ways and sometimes the author of a tab will provide both for people familiar with one system or the other.
  3. Those are old style friction tuners. The tension is controlled by the tightness of the screw in the center. If it's too lose they'll slip. The ones on the left appear to be cracked too. If you're looking for direct replacements, those wouldn't be hard to swap out. They're just held in by the nut on the inside of peg box. Stew Mac may have something that would work: https://www.stewmac.com/search/?q=friction+tuners I notice they have just the knobs further down the page, which might be an option if the shaft on the old ones matches those knobs. You might also consider replacing them with geared tuners. That's a bit more work. It's possible to do at home, but it might be worth having a luthier tackle that job as it would probably require drilling out the holes a bit holes for the size of the tuner and also the locator pins to keep them in the right orientation. Also would need to make sure the side of the scroll is thick enough for the tuner.
  4. It looks like the top two lines (AD) are for DAd tuning, showing just middle and melody string and the bottom two lines (DA) are for DAA tuning. You could play that in DAA on the melody string or on the middle string tuned DAd. On the DA lines all the notes are on the A string. It's just showing the melody in the tab, the fingering for chords isn't listed.
  5. Thanks, it's been added and the festival list is updated for 2022.
  6. You can click on someone's profile picture to see their latest activity on the site. The "About Me" section is a separate tab to the right of that on the desktop: On Mobile, it's a drop down from their activity:
  7. Backyard instruments will ship them completely built and painted, ready to play: https://www.backyardmusic.com/dulcimers/simplicity-dulcimer.html Stock they come without the 6.5 fret, but you can add that fret here: https://www.backyardmusic.com/dulcimers/extra-fret.html The 6.5 isn't traditional, but most modern dulcimers have it and most of the videos and workshops made these days will use it.
  8. Sorry to hear the sad news. I only knew of Sam from coming across a very beautiful mountain dulcimer he built and a reference to the album below he played it on. I had no idea about the hammered dulcimer connection or his role in bringing it back. Is there a place to learn more about him?
  9. Hi Loleea, welcome! $75 for a good condition McSpadden is an excellent price. Used ones seem to go for a lot, so I think you got a great deal! I don't know too much about that specific model, I think GCC means it's a Ginger with a Cherry body and Cherry top. One way you might be able to tell if it's laminate is to look at the edges of the sound holes. If the wood grain is visible on the edge and goes all the way through then it's probably solid wood. Even if it is laminate, that can sound pretty good. I've seen a video where Jim Woods (the recent previous owner of McSpadden) talk about the switch from laminate to solid wood. They liked the acoustic properties of the laminate the used, it just became unavailable and so they had to switch to something else and decided to go with solid wood instead of another type of laminate. I have a McSpadden from the late 70s that's laminate and I think it sounds great. If you enjoy the sound and you find it comfortable to play, that's all that matters. Either way, at $75 I think you got a great deal.
  10. Hi @Kyu Frohman, Not sure if you've found this TablEdit video tutorial yet, but it may be helpful: https://tabledit.com/help/english/arrangeit.shtml It covers a lot of the features someone is likely to use and walks through examples of using them.
  11. I tend to prefer playing 3 string instruments. On a 4 string instrument, I find the double string has a few downsides. It's hard to press down as it's double the force needed to press down one string. They also tend to bunch up together when fretting with fingers, especially if you're using a lot of slides. It's claimed a double string is louder, but I haven't heard a lot of difference in volume going between a single and doubled melody string. It's nearly impossible to tune them perfectly in unison, so I think what would be heard more is the slight dissonance between them, which might cut through the drones a bit if you're strumming a lot. On a lot of modern instruments the strings are well balanced so they all sound a similar volume. It might be something you want to try for yourself, but I've tended to find it getting in the way more than any benefit. One case where it would be helpful is if you want to switch between 4-string equidistant and 3-string on the same instrument. On all the dulcimers I have that were set up for a double melody, I've taken one off and left just 3 or loosened one and secured it off the fretboard to use later if I want to play 4-string equidistant.
  12. I second what NoterMan suggested. Do you have a particular genre of music you're interested in learning now? The next step might be to identify some songs you like and look at skills associated with playing them, like flatpicking or fingerpicking, to go beyond a basic strum.
  13. I recommend DAd tuning to start as it's become the most common and you'll find more resources (tab/workshop/videos) for learning it. Having the middle and melody strings tuned differently also gives access to more notes without moving your hand by playing across strings and allows for playing wider chord voicing. On DAA the middle and melody string gauges are often the same. For DAd, the melody is usually a lighter gauge. You can use a string gauge calculator to dial in the exact gauges for your instrument based on VSL, but some common sets of gauges for DAd are .024, .013, .011 or .025, .014, .012. I'd lean to slightly lighter gauges on the double melody string as it requires twice as much pressure to fret as a single string of the same gauge.
  14. Thanks - it has been removed.
  15. MobileSheets is the app most people seem to use on Android. There's more out there, but MobileSheets is the closest in terms of features to forScore, the most popular iPad app. https://www.zubersoft.com/mobilesheets/
  16. Welcome! You can go just about anywhere for wood. Dulcimers are often built out of some type of Walnut or Cherry. Various types of mahogany are also fairly popular in modern instruments. Really though, most common hardwoods should work fairly well. Sometimes tops will be done in some type of spruce/pine/cedar or butternut. The slots in the fretboard are fairly straightforward to cut, especially on a flat fretboard. I used a Dozuki Saw (brand of japanese pull saw) to cut the frets on the instruments I've built. With that type of saw just a lay out the fret spacing on the fretboard and then gently pull it the saw across the marks. Check the depth as you go and go a little deeper if needed. Once it starts to form a slot it will generally stay straight in the groove. They do make fretsaws specifically for fretting, but any saw that will give a clean cut the right width for the tang on the fret to fit in will work. I've had good luck with the pull saw so I can recommend that. Since you've built yourself a side bender, you're well on your way to building an hourglass without much trouble. I know Cedar Creek Dulcimers and McSpadden Dulcimers both offer hourglass kits for under $200. That might the way to go for a first build as you'll have all the wood pre-cut and fretboard slots cut. You'd just have to glue it together and do the finishing work on it. They also come with the option of pre-cut sound holes - which can be the most delicate work depending on the shape. Hopefully that helps. Feel free to ask more questions and we'd love to see your build once you get it together!
  17. Thanks for sharing this! Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays 🙂
  18. I've mostly used Terry McCafferty's capos for the reasons you mention. They're well built and easy to take on and off. I've never had to fuss with them to get them to hold, they just work. I've also heard a lot of good things about Ron Ewing's capos, but I haven't had the chance to try one yet.
  19. Joe Collins makes what he calls the "working class" capo. It's just a bolt, a wing nut, some vinyl tubing and cork for the sides. If you're looking to save money it might be cheaper to get one from him than buying larger quantities of the stuff to make it. Here's a link with a photo of his: https://jcdulcimer.ecwid.com/#!/Working-Class-Capo/p/51492762/category=34442728 I would think it would be fairly straightforward with wood/cork sandwich for the sides being the only part that might require some tools. If I had to guess, I'd say he used a hole saw drill bit to punch them out.
  20. There's a lot available now due to the pandemic. Stephen Seifert and Dulcimer Crossing both have online / on demand videos. Bing Futch gives full access to his vault of videos and books if you subscribe to his Patreon for $5 a month. There's a lot of video lessons from festival workshops in there. Then there are individual workshops that instructors do live. To name a few: Erin Mae Joe Collins Jessica Comeau Aubrey Atwater Carol Walker And for a festival, the North Georgia Foothills Dulcimer Association festival is coming up in a couple weeks. Registration was extended, but ends tomorrow for that one. Hope that helps!
  21. Thanks for the extra photos, it's a interesting instrument 🙂 Sometimes they will have the maker's info written inside the instrument if you can see anything in there. It might give a clue to the age. For strings, I would take it to music shop and ask them to measure the ones that are still on there. They can measure them with calipers or a micrometer and tell you the exact size and probably sell you single strings. Many of them will be the same thickness, though you may want a thicker string for strings tuned lower. If you're able to measure the distance between the saddle and the metal fret closest to the tuning pegs we can use a calculator based on the intended tuning to recommend some gauges.
  22. What does the crown on the frets look like? Do they have a well rounded top with a single point of contact for the string or are they possibly a little flat?
  23. Greetings! It looks like a type of hummel / hommel. They can be tuned similarly to a dulcimer with the drone strings being the root and 5th of the scale and then the melody strings being tuned to the mode you want to play (5th for Ionian, 4th for Aoelian, 8th for Mixolydian, etc.). So for example CGG or DAA tuning could just be extended to match the number of strings. A tuning like CGGG-GGGGGG would work for playing major scale/ionian mode songs.
  24. Welcome! Feel free to ask any questions you have and we'll try to help you out. Regarding the strings - most of the time a DAA set will make it up into DAd, though depending on the exact gauge they may not. Also if the strings are older you may want to go ahead and change them anyways. Looking at the fretboard, your dulcimer doesn't have a 6 1/2 fret on it so a 1-5-5 tuning like DAA or CGG may be better for playing most tunes. These are tuning for playing the major scale from the 3rd fret up to the 10th fret, also known as Ionian mode. Without the 6 1/2 fret if it's tuned DAd, it will play the Mixolydian mode from the open string. This is close to the Major scale/Ionian mode, but the 7th note (6th fret) is flat. A 6 1/2 fret allows it to play the major scale from the open string up to the 7th fret. It's possible to play major scale tunes in DAd without a 6 1/2 fret, but you'll either need to avoid tunes that call for the 6 1/2 fret, play that note on the middle string (9th fret on middle string is the same note as the 6 1/2 on the melody string), or possibly have a 6 1/2 fret added to the instrument. DAA is a perfectly good option too, though less common now. Either way you'll have a lot of fun, but I would recommend changing the string if they're more than a year or two old.
  25. Unfortunately all the plans I've seen are full size. I think this may be a case where you'll have to scale an existing plan down or design your own. One thing that may be helpful to think about if you scale one down yourself - you probably want to keep the fretboard width (and string spacing) at or near regular width so it doesn't impact the playability.
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