The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #61718   Message #996101
Posted By: GUEST,leeneia
03-Aug-03 - 06:58 PM
Thread Name: Learning Lap Dulcimer- Tips? Tricks?
Subject: RE: Learning Lap Dulcimer- Tips? Tricks?
I have been playing mountain dulcimer for ten years. Here's what I tell beginners:

First you gotta learn to use it. So do this:

Tune it to DAA. (You can leave off the second melody string, it just makes it hard to tune.) Now start sounding out tunes on the melody string (the highest one)

In most cases, if you want harmony, you will get it by putting your fourth finger on the D string one fret behind the fret where your index finger is.

Exceptions are the note A (7th fret) where your fourth finger goes on the middle string, fifth fret.

For the note B, the fourth finger goes on the middle string, 6th fret. As you play, you will quickly pick up these exceptions, as your ears will tell you about it when you forget.

When you count frets, remember that the G# (the middle fret of the three small ones about in the center of the instrument) is known as "the 6 1/2th fret."

Now play lots of tunes, using different strums and picking patterns. Make up new strums. Play arpeggios, whack it, brush it, play it using no chords at all, try the "dreaded bum didddy strum" on long notes. Keep a list of the tunes you've thought of and what the first note of the song is.

When you know a couple tunes, start using other fingers besides your index finger on the melody string, to avoid putting too much stress on one finger.

When I play, I pick the melody string with my thumb, using a Herco light thumb pick, which is bright red, rather soft, and heart-shaped. It brings out the melody without producing an ugly twang. Experiment to find what method you prefer.

You will find that you can't sound out certain tunes, probably all of them minor. When you want to move on to minor, come back to the Mudcat.