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Jay D Byrd

Stick Dulcimers? Resonators? What are the Limits?

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What's the consensus here about stick dulcimers?  I'll fess up that I find them very interesting.  I'm not talking so much about the Merlins, but the ones with the oval bodies, long diatonic necks and the standard mountain dulcimer string setups.  Enough so that I've been messing around building this thing in my spare time.  I'm not sure what to call it yet, but it's a large cigar box with a 27" scale, 4 strings with a DAD tuning and a resonator cone.  Still to be installed are the frets in a diatonic tuning with 1+, 6+ and 10+ frets.  Along with a standard electric pickup and an internal piezo pickup with the associated switches and wiring.  This test string up and tuning was more to figure out where the frets need to go using an electronic tuner.  I tried to use some of the online fret calculators, but I was getting different answers for some of the frets, with those being significantly off.  But it was sounding great once I got it into DAD tuning using a 026w, 017, 011 & 010 strings that were odd spares I had just laying around.  

Anyway, I was mainly wondering if stick dulcimers were off topic here as I'm starting to really like this one.  

 

Dulcimer X2 first tuning.jpg

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I don't suppose stick instruments are "off topic".  But they are NOT dulcimers.  By international organographic definition, mountain dulcimers and other fretted zithers do not have a neck which extends beyond the body.  Your stick instruments belong to the class of Lute relatives (guitar, mandolin, banjo, balalaika, bouzouki, etc), not the class of Zither relatives.

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I have no problem with people talking about them here, but, they are not dulcimers; just diatonic fretted lutes.

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."

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Welcome!  Feel free to discuss stick dulcimers / backpack dulcimers here. 

There are strong opinions on what is and is not a dulcimer. From a technical/taxonomic standpoint they don't fit the definition. From a practical standpoint they're closely related enough that I see no reason to exclude them (open tuning, diatonically fretted, usually tuned some variation of DAd).  Certainly close enough anyone playing these would benefit from the tabs and many other techniques that are used on the mountain dulcimer: drone-melody, chord-melody, modal tunings, etc.

My first diatonic instrument was a Merlin before I bought a dulcimer. The response I got when asking questions in the dulcimer community nearly put me off the instrument and dulcimers too. Which is a shame because they're one of the best/easiest instruments to learn on and the community is generally very friendly and supportive. I don't want that be someone else's first experience, so again welcome.

Feel free to poke around and ask questions and we'll help out where we can 🙂

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