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Seeking hammered dulcimer

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Rosebrook 28 Nov 99 - 11:01 AM
Sea Ross 28 Nov 99 - 11:54 AM
Willie-O 28 Nov 99 - 12:26 PM
AllisonA(Animaterra) 28 Nov 99 - 12:38 PM
selby 28 Nov 99 - 02:02 PM
Sandy Paton 28 Nov 99 - 06:14 PM
kendall 28 Nov 99 - 07:38 PM
Willie-O 28 Nov 99 - 08:15 PM
ddw 28 Nov 99 - 09:30 PM
Rosebrook 29 Nov 99 - 09:16 AM
Laura 30 Nov 99 - 12:09 AM
Bert 30 Nov 99 - 10:46 AM
catspaw49 30 Nov 99 - 11:50 AM
catspaw49 30 Nov 99 - 11:59 AM
02 Dec 99 - 06:32 PM
catspaw49 03 Dec 99 - 09:00 PM
_gargoyle 03 Dec 99 - 09:59 PM
_gargoyle 03 Dec 99 - 10:06 PM
catspaw49 03 Dec 99 - 10:44 PM
Sandy Paton 04 Dec 99 - 06:02 PM
Melanie 13 Dec 99 - 05:59 PM
paddymac 13 Dec 99 - 06:30 PM
catspaw49 13 Dec 99 - 07:44 PM
GUEST 08 Nov 08 - 12:25 AM
Acme 08 Nov 08 - 12:27 AM
maeve 08 Nov 08 - 06:30 AM
Phot 08 Nov 08 - 08:52 AM
The Fooles Troupe 08 Nov 08 - 09:38 AM
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Subject: Seeking hammered dulcimer
From: Rosebrook
Date: 28 Nov 99 - 11:01 AM

I'm looking to purchase a hammered dulcimer. Any suggestions on types of wood? Any certain "brand" to avoid or is highly recommended? Are these played more comfortably sitting down or standing up? I've loved the sound of the hammered dulcimer for so many years, and I think I'm going to get one this holiday season! What do I need to consider before buying one?

Thanks for any help offered,

Rose


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Subject: RE: Seeking hammered dulcimer
From: Sea Ross
Date: 28 Nov 99 - 11:54 AM

McSpadden Dulcimer Works has been making dulcimers for over 30 years and are considered to be very good. They are in Mountain View, Arkansas and I believe that they have a website. If not, I do have their snail mail address around here somewhere.


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Subject: RE: Seeking hammered dulcimer
From: Willie-O
Date: 28 Nov 99 - 12:26 PM

I suggest you get one that's not impossible to tune!

double-string courses not 3 or 4--they sound clearer too and probably hold together longer. Make sure its a solid wood top, whatever the species, not ply.

I made a solid mahogany h.d. 20 years ago as part of Paul Reisler's instrument making course at Augusta Heritage Arts Fest in Elkins WV--basically a Sam Rizzetta design--it has held together very well over the years. I recommend Sam's designs.

Bill


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Subject: RE: Seeking hammered dulcimer
From: AllisonA(Animaterra)
Date: 28 Nov 99 - 12:38 PM

Catspaw? Catspaw? Where are you? Rosebrook, don't buy a dulcimer until you've talked to Catspaw- he makes em and they are beauts! I think there's a photo or 2 on the Mudcat Resources page.
Allison


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Subject: RE: Seeking hammered dulcimer
From: selby
Date: 28 Nov 99 - 02:02 PM

In the UK Oakwood make a fine set of 2 course hammered Dulcimers. There also is a flourishing Hammered Dulcimer club called Nonesuch that holds regular worshop / meetings, they also publish a newsletter. Keith


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Subject: RE: Seeking hammered dulcimer
From: Sandy Paton
Date: 28 Nov 99 - 06:14 PM

Mudcat master "Catspaw!"
Folkcraft Instruments in Winsted, Connecticut.
Dusty Strings in Seattle, Washington.
"Song of the Wood" in (Black Mountain?) NC.
And many more.

Sandy


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Subject: RE: Seeking hammered dulcimer
From: kendall
Date: 28 Nov 99 - 07:38 PM

Nick Apollonio in Rockport Maine builds a fine hammered dulcimer. And he doesn't grab you for all you are worth. He is an outstanding musician as well as a one of a kind luthier. Nick Apollonio, po box 291 Rockport Maine 04856 home (207)5940032, or Shop, 207 2366312.


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Subject: RE: Seeking hammered dulcimer
From: Willie-O
Date: 28 Nov 99 - 08:15 PM

All good recommendations I'm sure. There are quite a few fine dulcimer makers around today. Unfortunately there are also a fair amount of shoddy ones available--and I think it's usually visible to the untrained eye. Look inside the box for glue spilled everywhere, watch for poor joinery, and small ones that aren't really a full scale dulcimer (should be at least 10 left courses, played on both sides of the bridge, and 11 on the right. Can have more, shouldn't be less.)

A hammered dulcimer is a relatively easy instrument to build, sort of, since they don't involve very thin wood or fancy bending. It's just a really strong box, so it's a matter of making it an elegant cabinet. Many succeed at this, some don't.

Bill


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Subject: RE: Seeking hammered dulcimer
From: ddw
Date: 28 Nov 99 - 09:30 PM

Song of the Wood is definitely in Black Mountain, NC. (Sandy had a ? in his post about it). I don't know the fellow personally who makes the HDs, I've been in the showroom and he makes some beauts. I also don't know how they compare with others mentioned, but I can tell you a friend has one and loves it.

david


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Subject: RE: Seeking hammered dulcimer
From: Rosebrook
Date: 29 Nov 99 - 09:16 AM

Has anyone had any personal experience with a Songbird hd made by Chris Foss?

I live in a very rural area and am considering making this purchase over the Internet, so I don't have the option of renting first, although that would be my preference.

I'll be a beginner hd player and am considering a 13/12 one. I've played music for many years, and I know this may be hard to predict, but I'm wondering if I'll be satisfied with this "beginner's" model. Is there a substantial difference between a 13/12 and a 16/15 (other than price;)

I am also considering Song of the Wood.

Thanks for your input,

Rose


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Subject: RE: Seeking hammered dulcimer
From: Laura
Date: 30 Nov 99 - 12:09 AM

Chris Foss's instrument is pretty amazing considering the price. My sister has one- is actually pretty loud and is holding the tuning pretty well. Made a good beginner instrument for her. Not sure what resale would be like if you decided to move up however. Laura


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Subject: RE: Seeking hammered dulcimer
From: Bert
Date: 30 Nov 99 - 10:46 AM

Being the owner of a Santur I would say DO buy an instrument with four strings per course because they sound so much nicer (all glassy and tinkly, like icicles). It's a matter of preference I suppose but definately LISTEN to both kinds before making a decision. They really aren't much harder to tune, once you've got the first string in the course tuned the other strings are easy to tune in unison.


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Subject: RE: Seeking hammered dulcimer
From: catspaw49
Date: 30 Nov 99 - 11:50 AM

First, thanks to Sandy and Allison (Animaterra) for the kind words! I appreciate it.

To answer your questions Rosebrook-------

HD's are played both standing and sitting and you'd do well to do both. I prefer standing, but I often play sitting since it "feels" different. Doesn't really matter. A lot of builders, myself included, will provide "Sitting Leg(s)" for the front if you ask.

If you'd like some additional info on wood, find the "Brazilian Rosewood" thread. HD's can be made from all sorts of wood and they can sound OK even when made from cheap stuff. But just like any other wooden instrument, better woods make better Dulcimers. Spruces, Cedar, and Redwood all make excellent soundboards, but since the HD is more piano-like in design, a lot of other tonewoods are not only usable, but provide a different sound, sometimes preferred! Mahogany, Rosewoods, Maple, Walnut....all are used and some are quite "bright" while others lend a certain "fullness." Laminates (NOT plywood) are also used quite succesfully in lower priced instruments. Someone said that its a box with strings...and in its simplest form , that's true. Most builders though spend a lot of time with interior design and bracing because it DOES make a difference! Laminate backs are very popular because they are far more dimensionally stable.

There are quite a few of us, large and small, building HD's. There is also some real schlocky stuff out there too. As mentioned, Chris Foss is good and has a nice entry level instrument. I don't think anyone mentioned Maple Valley or Cloud Nine and both are really superb. As I recall, you live in the Northwest. Dusty Strings is in Seattle and have the closest thing to a factory that there is in Hammereds. Very fine instruments-excellent sound and resale. Small builders tend to go two ways. The "just build them, they're boxes" people and the ones who build 2-12 instruments a month and know each personally. The latter group tends to better woods, unique designs, and meticulous care in finishing. Most of the instruments they build are strictly for the love of the instrument and not to make a ton of money. They also generally limit themselves to two types...a better than most 12/11 and some top line piece, sometimes chromatic, sometimes not. Hammereds are much less "pricey" than guitars, so smaller builders are apt to be a bit higher in price. Living where you do especially, I'd take a good look at Dusty Strings.

As you look, also note things like Rock Maple or Rock Maple Laminate pin blocks, friction-free bridge caps, and wood used in the rails. The rail must transmit the sound clearly and, in general, harder woods are better. The 16/15 or 15/14 gives you another key to play in over the 31/12 or 12/11. Matter of what you prefer. A good player can get a lot out of a 12/11. I don't consider either to be a beginners model. They're the same, just an extra octave (or 2 with a 20/19). The real difference is with the chromatics. Unless you're going to get REAL fancy with a lot of music, I'd stick to the diatonic models.

The sound types of various makers do differ depending on the builders preference from a limited sustain, edgy sound to a more overtoned chime-like sound...and all points in between. And remember, part of that sound comes from the material in the hammer you're using. I'd personally stay away from 3 or 4 string course instruments. Most of what is being built today sounds just great with 2 strings per course. If its a good design with good materials, there is really no difference in volume. What you will need, unless you have a GREAT ear or are a glutton for punishment, is a good electronic tuner. You should always go back over the Dulcimer after using one to be sure its in tune with itself, but a tuner will save you a lot of time. And BTW, they are ALL affected with tuning problems with every change in temp or humidity. Not drastic problems, but enough to be annoying. Buy a tuner!

Well, I don't know whether I've answered or added to your questions..........If you want more specifics, just ask!

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Seeking hammered dulcimer
From: catspaw49
Date: 30 Nov 99 - 11:59 AM

BTW---that should obviously be 13/12 not 31/12. The 13/12 vs 12/11 (add 3 to either as you up the number of courses) is interesting. A lot of us have gone to the extra courses to make things a bit more convenient and to give the player an option of adding in some chromatic notes if they want, instead of duplicating the same notes on the bass and treble.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Seeking hammered dulcimer
From:
Date: 02 Dec 99 - 06:32 PM

Hi! This is great timing. I came here yesterday to ask very much the same questions as Rosebrook. I am not quite the beginner but self-taught so who knows. I am looking to move up to a better instrument but I also live in a rural area and so in the same predicament as Rosebrook.

My suggestion to Rosebrook would be to start out with an extended range instrument. I began with a "schlocky" 12/11 as I didn't want to put a lot of money into an instrument until I knew I was going to be able to play it. I'm looking to move up to a better instrument now, not so much because of the quality of the instrument but because I find myself wanting those low notes that you don't have on a 12/11.

I was happy to hear you mention Cloud Nine as that is one that I'm considering. You said that sound types of various makers differ. Could you describe the character of the Cloud Nines? I'm looking for something middle of the road on sustain...not too "bright". With all the choices of woods, what would you recommend to get a sound more full than bright...soundboard, rails, bridges?

Do you have any opinion on black lacquer soundboards? Do you think they make that much difference to the average player? I'm not a performer....just play for myself.

Thanks! Melanie


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Subject: RE: Seeking hammered dulcimer
From: catspaw49
Date: 03 Dec 99 - 09:00 PM

Hi Melanie...and all,

Cloud Nine is very bright and may be one of the most limited on sustain. Makes for a tremendous instrument for the reels/jigs, but not quite as good as some on ballads. Most people find them quite nice all around. Changing hammer material will increase or decrease the bright/sustain qualities of any dulcimer as will changing the downbearing.

RE: Black Lacquer - Its whatever you get used to and can adjust to. There are a lot more around now for whatever reason and I admit they have an appeal..built 4 myself. Most are black aneline dye and then finished, but I have seen true black lacquer also. It always seems such a waste of beautiful wood to me. Since I left the end frames, bridges, and rails in natural woods (although the pinblocks were also black) they weren't so stark. Two of them were very attractive....the one using cocobolo and the other maple. Cocobolo is just plain beautiful and the light maple had an excellent "flame" pattern, very pronounced. In any case, I personally prefer the look of natural finish instruments. I think very light colored soundboards such as spruce are easier to play with a touch of toner to darken them. I also prefer a satiny semi-gloss finish which highlights the beauty of the wood and is also easy to "see" stringwise.

Melanie, if you are looking for a "lifetime companion" kind of HD, I'd really advise you take your time and look at/play a lot of them. You're looking for a "friend" so start haunting shops wherever you travel and check out some of the small, but serious, builders. You may find that one of them suits you to a "T."

AND NOW A QUESTION FOR ANY OF YOU ---------

Most dulcimers are very similar in appearance. Some have little differences that are either funtional or aesthetic, such as treble and bass tuning pins on opposite sides or whatnot, but they are all similar in many ways. How would you react to a slightly radical design, say almost like an oval with a short and long side (severely round the trapezoid's corners) and some other things too. I mention this because I have a mock up made of one for measurement purposes and pattern making. It has exactly the same "guts" and dimensions as my current design (I'm happy with the sound) that I developed and use....but it DOES look different. The sound would be the same. It has a kind of modern "Euro" look that is different and requires a bit more building time, but I think I'd like to see something that would stand out a bit, all other things being equal. Let me know if you have an opinion before I build a dozen of these suckers that won't sell!!!

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Seeking hammered dulcimer
From: _gargoyle
Date: 03 Dec 99 - 09:59 PM

It is hard to imagine making a major investiment without trying out the instrument....no doubt Mr. Catspaw builds a nobel instrument and I would purchase one from him if I were in the neighborhood (and in the market) however, here is another list.

Jim Fyhrie, I have heard play over a dozen times. He is a musician, an artist, and an honest craftsman.
Plectrum Recording
Jim Fyhrie
2795 Laguna Canyon Rd.
Laguna Beach Ca. 92651
Ph 714-494-7478 jfdulcimer@aol.com

The others are from a newgroup listing.

Builder Business Location
------- -------- -------- Debbie Suran In the Tradition Deer Isle, ME
Jerry Smith Song of the Wood Black Mountain, NC
Russell Cook Wood N' Strings Arlington, TX
(N/A) Folk Mote Music Santa Barbara, CA
Rick Fogel Whamdiddle Dulcimers Seattle, WA
David Marks Folkcraft Instruments Winsted, CT
(N/A) Music Folk, Inc. St. Louis, MO
(N/A) The Dulcimer Factory Fredericksburg, TX
Jim Fyhrie Plectrum Dulcimer Co. Laguna Beach, CA
Bob Tack R.L. Tack Dulcimer Co. Delton, MI
James Jones (I don't know) Bedford, VA


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Subject: RE: Seeking hammered dulcimer
From: _gargoyle
Date: 03 Dec 99 - 10:06 PM

The above listings are ones that are NOT listed on the "Offical Hammered Dulcimer" website which is maintained by Chuck Boody. To go there Dulcimer Home Page You will find it most interesting and informative.


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Subject: RE: Seeking hammered dulcimer
From: catspaw49
Date: 03 Dec 99 - 10:44 PM

Thank you garg....I certainly wasn't trying to peddle my own as I'm sure you noticed. There are at least two hundred others, many in the midwest and other places where Irish descended people are in heavy population. The instrument would probably have died out completely in this country had it NOT been for the Irish.

I would again advise you visit as many stores and shops AND builders as possible. The price of a dulcimer pales in significance to a guitar, but that is still no reason to slough off the purchase. If there are any dulcimer fests in your area, that's a good place to look. And I'm still looking for "Design" opinions.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Seeking hammered dulcimer
From: Sandy Paton
Date: 04 Dec 99 - 06:02 PM

My dulcimer-playing son (David) began with a small Dusty Strings, moved up to a lovely Song of the Wood which he got at the shop while playing in the vicinity. Played it for a long time, then decided he needed a louder dulcimer for his work with the Celtic group he plays with. Found just what he wanted at Folkcraft. Of course he played each of these instruments before he purchased it. So now the Song of the Wood is his "home" instrument, while the Folkcraft is his "working" instrument. All this manages to keep him broke, just as guitars do for me.

Spendthrift Sandy


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Subject: RE: Seeking hammered dulcimer
From: Melanie
Date: 13 Dec 99 - 05:59 PM

Thanks for all the advice folks! I've been looking around for awhile now but haven't been getting very far very fast. I will keep looking.

As for a design opinion....I think that most people fall in love with a dulcimer for the captivating sound and as long as it had that "sound" wouldn't care too much what it looked like unless they performed with a traditional group and wanted a traditional look. You can find just about any kind of music being played on HDs these days. Your aerodynamic design sounds kinda futuristic. I bet there'd be a niche for it somewhere, Catspaw. You'll have to make a couple and report back on how they sell.

Thanks again, all.


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Subject: RE: Seeking hammered dulcimer
From: paddymac
Date: 13 Dec 99 - 06:30 PM

Melanie - I've been playing a 12/11 for a bit over three years now. I'm a bit beyond the "beginner" level, but try to play some every day in the hope that I'll be better today than yesterday, but not as good as tomorrow. Besides, "hammerin'" is cheaper than a shrink and not as fattening as beer. I started with, and still play, an instrument built by a craftsman who built a couple of dozen, then got turned on by "building" computers. Mine is "double strung", but the top four courses are triples. I don't have the "shimmer effect" common to most HDs, but that is a desireable trait for playing in a ballad group. I have found that I can get more shimmer by tuning one of a pair about 5-10 cents sharp and the other 5-10 cents flat. Most people only hear the expanded harmonics and don't realize the "why" of it. If I did a lot of solo stuff, I think I would probably want that "typical" sound, but with less shimmer and the long sustain my instrument has, it fits in well with the group sound and stands out when needed. I sometimes think that the HD gets lost in the mix, but it seems like somebody always comes out of the audience to say how much they like the sound of it in the ensemble. Go figure. Well, what I think I started out to say was that while it is important to select an instrument with a sound appealing to yourself, you should also give some thought to how you see yourself playing, solo or in a group of some sort. But whatever you do, remember it's all for fun and enjoyment.


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Subject: RE: Seeking hammered dulcimer
From: catspaw49
Date: 13 Dec 99 - 07:44 PM

Thanks for your comments Melanie.....Hopefully it will have the standard traditional appeal, not too "space age." (:<))

...and paddy---good points, although a lot of players are driven nuts enough by the harmonics to begin with!!

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Seeking hammered dulcimer
From: GUEST
Date: 08 Nov 08 - 12:25 AM

suprisingly a 12/11 isnt quite as limited as it would first seem. On first glance between the tuning chards of a 12/11 and a 15/14 it looks like you loos the A key and the low D key. Actually all you loose is that lovely low D. The missing notes in A ARE available on a 12/11, just not where yu would expect them. The 2 missing low notes are the B and A above the G marker on the bass bridge. The 2 missing high notes the E and F# are right above the D marker on the treb.
    Please note that anonymous posting is no longer allowed at Mudcat. Use a consistent name [in the 'from' box] when you post, or your messages risk being deleted.
    Thanks.
    -Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Seeking hammered dulcimer
From: Acme
Date: 08 Nov 08 - 12:27 AM

I sold one a few months ago. You should have visited Mudcat then, I'd have directed you to the eBay auction where I had it listed.


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Subject: RE: Seeking hammered dulcimer
From: maeve
Date: 08 Nov 08 - 06:30 AM

So, Spaw- Did you make your curvilinear HD after all? Could we please have an update?


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Subject: RE: Seeking hammered dulcimer
From: Phot
Date: 08 Nov 08 - 08:52 AM

I used to have a DOVE Sphinx, made by Rodger Frood, a truly fantastic instrument, held its tune so well, it was stored under the bed for 18 months. Took it out, still in perfect tune! They are a bit pricey (Thick end of £1000) but you get what you pay for, and I believe they are the best in the UK. If I had the spare cash I'd have another one tomorrow. He also makes bass dulcimers which are PDG too!

Wassail!! Chris


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Subject: RE: Seeking hammered dulcimer
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 08 Nov 08 - 09:38 AM

"I sometimes think that the HD gets lost in the mix, but it seems like somebody always comes out of the audience to say how much they like the sound of it in the ensemble."

I have found that the instruments I play tend to 'carry' better than they sound to me.


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