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Dulcimer Jim

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  1. I use the Dudley Quick Release brass capo. It is waaaaay superior to all the usual wooden style dulcimer capos. On my chromatic dulcimer I can change the pitch of any tune in a matter of seconds with my capo. I can play in all keys, and in all modes in all keys. A good, workable capo on a chromatic fretboard is a superb tool and adds great, instant versatility. It also enables you to instantly match any tune, regardless of where the melody fits within a key or mode, to your vocal range (as long as you use a chromatic dulcimer).... you merely move the capo to a position where the melody is easiest for you to sing.
  2. Hi. There's 2 ways to anchor your hand whilst flatpicking and crosspicking. (1) Place the right side of the base of your picking hand on top of the strings behind the saddle (some people call it the 'bridge'). Make sure it's behind the saddle so as not to mute the sound of the strings. Your hand is now still free to pick individual strings with ease. It's also very easy to strum across 2 or more strings in this position. Make sure you don't press the hand down hard; just very lightly rest it in that position as that enables the picking hand, and your arm, to freely move. Also, if you wish to occasionally play the strings further up the fret board in order to get a more mellow tone in certain passages, it's easy to simply lift up your hand and play for a while further up the fret board, then return to the original position. (2) Place your little finger against the side of the fret board, just gently rest it there. You can then very easily slide your picking hand up and down the fret board whilst you play in order to get different tonal qualities from the dulcimer. This works beautifully for individual string picking and crosspicking. If you wish to sometimes strum across all strings for some seconds then you can easily do a wider strumming motion by merely not pressing the little finger against the fret board side, then when you're ready to return to the little finger placement you merely return to that hand position. With a little bit of practice it starts to feel very natural and easy. You can also combine the 2 anchoring methods together. Also, both anchoring and not anchoring throughout a tune enable you to have lots of choices depending on the tone and feel you wish to create. Anchoring also steadies the dulcimer on you lap; the dulcimer will barely move at all and that lack of movement will make your playing a bit more accurate.
  3. Hi Melody, on a classical guitar there's 3 wound nylon strings and 3 unwound nylon strings. The thinnest of those wound nylon strings is tuned to the D note, the exact same low note that is used for the low D note on a DAd or DAA tuned dulcimer. So if you buy a set of nylon classical guitar strings you can then string up any dulcimer with that wound nylon D string plus the 2 thinnest unwound strings. When I did this on my dulcimer I found that the D string and the A string overpowered the high d string, so I put a d steel sting back on the dulcimer and the dulcimer then sounded very balanced. I have a recording of my dulcimer strung this way, but I can't find it at present, I'll keep looking. However, I do have a recording of my dulcimer tuned dad with the 2 strings on either side of the middle A string tuned to the same high d note (I replaced the wound D string with the same type of treble string used for the usual high d note. So, there's the d unwound nylon string that replaced the usual D wound steel string, the middle A unwound nylon string that replaced the usual steel middle string, and I kept the remaining d steel string in it's usual place, so we have 2 nylon strings and 1 steel string .......... here's a recording I made with the dulcimer strung like this Jingle Bells Dulcimer with 2 nylon and 1 steel.mp3
  4. I put a nylon D wound string and a nylon A string on an old dulcimer of mine, and it sounded fine. The high d string was kept as a steel string. The combination of 2 nylon strings and one steel string worked surprisingly well.
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