The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #25806   Message #3252553
Posted By: GUEST
07-Nov-11 - 10:38 PM
Thread Name: Dulcimer for dummies
Subject: RE: Dulcimer for dummies
Have you considered stick dulcimers (like the McNally Strumstick) as an alternative to the mountain dulcimer? Both have the same diatonic fretboard, and there is less material (wood) as the sound box is smaller. Like the MD, there is a regular cottage industry selling this mini-guitar-like instrument. Also, there is an active community of builders on Cigar box Nation (CBN)[] which build for either a source of income, or (like me) just for a hobby. They are very much into sharing ideas. I am one of these hobbyist builders. Starting with cigar boxes, adding a simple home-made neck and headstock, you can build a simple instrument with just several hours of effort. The hard part might be how to fret the neck, but with the info on CBN, and a few builds "under you belt" making instruments is a fun, easy and educational hobby that can pay for itself should you ever decide to sell any of you creation. Also, MD tabs can usually be played on SDs - as long as you realize the melody and bass strings have been swapped around on the SD for easier playing while holding the instrument guitar fashion. If you know a skilled wood worker you might be able to entice him/her to help you out on your builds. If you have many instruments to build in a short time, having access to power tools (especially table saws, band saws, drill presses, electric sanders, routers, and like) is a godsend. You can even build simpler instruments like the one-string diatonically fretted canjo. Also, consider building children sized instruments(with sub-20" scale lengths for easier fingering) - and nylon strings to protect their finger tips. Building your own instruments allows you a lot of freedom in design, and you can build instruments with other specialized fretting systems, including pentatonic, blues-scale, and various Middle Eastern or Indian scales. This way students can learn how music sounds in different cultures just by noodling around on the respective fretboard. (I built one 2-stringer which I made 4 different fret boards,and can easily swap out the fretboard as the are held in place on the neck with 2 tie-wraps. Now I don' happen to have tabs or say, Middle Eastern music, but I can play around with the notes on the appropriate fretboard and come up with tunes that sound similar.)