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Four Equidistant String Dulcimer?

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black walnut 12 May 00 - 10:47 PM
GUEST,Jcushnan@home.com 12 May 00 - 11:26 PM
catspaw49 12 May 00 - 11:33 PM
Mark Cohen 12 May 00 - 11:38 PM
dulcimer 13 May 00 - 06:21 AM
dulcimer 13 May 00 - 06:36 AM
dulcimer 13 May 00 - 06:38 AM
black walnut 14 May 00 - 08:10 AM
dulcimer 15 May 00 - 06:22 AM
GUEST,BanjoDave 15 May 00 - 09:08 AM
black walnut 15 May 00 - 10:24 AM
Pinetop Slim 15 May 00 - 10:42 AM
black walnut 15 May 00 - 10:53 AM
tar_heel 15 May 00 - 11:22 AM
Jigger 15 May 00 - 12:00 PM
dulcimer 15 May 00 - 08:33 PM
GUEST,squirrel 16 May 00 - 12:39 AM
black walnut 16 May 00 - 02:18 PM
black walnut 18 May 00 - 08:13 AM
black walnut 18 May 00 - 01:05 PM
Roger in Baltimore 23 May 00 - 07:42 PM
black walnut 23 May 00 - 09:50 PM
Pinetop Slim 24 May 00 - 09:51 AM
Chris Seymour 24 May 00 - 10:39 PM
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Subject: Four Equidistant String Dulcimer?
From: black walnut
Date: 12 May 00 - 10:47 PM

My first and only dulcimer teacher is Lorraine Hammond, the marvellous dulcimer player from Boston. Lorraine plays a Dwain Wilder four equidistant string dulcimer. I had my dulcimer made by Dwain as well (it's a beauty!), and it is set up the same as Lorraine's. There are some things that can be done with this configuration that are very appealling to me, including 4 note chords, and a really clear vibrato on any string.

There are very few dulcimer players in Toronto where I live, to begin with, and I don't know of anyone this side of the border who plays dulcimer with this setup. I would be thrilled to find another mudcatter who also plays four equidistant string dulcimer, or at least knows what I'm talking about.....

~black walnut


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Subject: RE: Four Equidistant String Dulcimer?
From: GUEST,Jcushnan@home.com
Date: 12 May 00 - 11:26 PM

Hi,

I play a little dulcimer but not with 4 equidistant strings. I bought mine in Crossville Tennessee. I did see some beautiful ones made by Warren May in Berea Kentucky. Mine is tuned in the usual fashion DD A D, but because there is no 6 1/2 fret some keys cannot be accommodated without altering the tuning. I lived in Toronto for about 20myears and am now resident in Whitby. I know of a Tam Kearney who lives in Toronto and makes dulcimers also.

Nice to hear from a dulcimer player.


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Subject: RE: Four Equidistant String Dulcimer?
From: catspaw49
Date: 12 May 00 - 11:33 PM

Warren makes some lovely instruments. Makes excellent use of the natural pattern and also the flaws in the wood.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Four Equidistant String Dulcimer?
From: Mark Cohen
Date: 12 May 00 - 11:38 PM

bw, somebody just gave me a dulcimer and it has notches in the nut and bridge so it can be set up either way. I can't recall the make offhand; it's at home and I'm not. Right now it's set up in the standard configuration. I'm just starting out with it, but I'm also learning ukulele, so the dulcimer is just sitting in a corner looking at me most of the time. (As a guitar player, it's a lot easier moving over to the ukulele.) I know the dulcimer book I have mentions the other configuration but I don't recall if there's much more than a mention. Sorry I can't give you much more info than that. If I come across anything else I'll let you know.

Aloha,
Mark


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Subject: RE: Four Equidistant String Dulcimer?
From: dulcimer
Date: 13 May 00 - 06:21 AM

I have one set up with 4 equal distance strings. I'm a more traditonal style player and play with a lot more droning than many who play with that configuration. I find it a good configuration for bagpipe tunes since one can play the melody on one string and have droning high and low. My strings are usually DDAD. If cross picking, it is tantamount to a three string configuration and I don't see much advantage. However, some tune the extra melody string to a different note which essentially makes a chromatic dulcimer--then strumming on all strings at the same time becomes a little trickier. I occasionally tune the four strings to DADA. Again when playing bagpipe tunes, it allows for two octave droning and simple chording using the first set of DA is pretty easy. Of course, the problem is that you have three drones and only one melody string and it tends to get drowned out. I have really just experimented with it and don't use this configuration on a regular basis. The dulcimer is such a quiet instrument when playing in jams without amplification that I usually need all the melody I can get AND this configuration usually doesn't fit my style as well as more typical arrangements do.


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Subject: RE: Four Equidistant String Dulcimer?
From: dulcimer
Date: 13 May 00 - 06:36 AM

You might try to ask on the Sweet Music Dulcimer list. This is the address --Majordomo@clearspring.com -- and write subscribe.


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Subject: RE: Four Equidistant String Dulcimer?
From: dulcimer
Date: 13 May 00 - 06:38 AM

Well Let me get it straight. Write subscribe dulcimer-list.


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Subject: RE: Four Equidistant String Dulcimer?
From: black walnut
Date: 14 May 00 - 08:10 AM

i will answer you all (eventually....it's a busy mother's day)...

i'll just say that yes, i know tam kearney....been to his house many a time....tam doesn't make dulcimers anymore. most of the dulcimer players i know in the area play kearney dulcimers. he only made traditional setup, as far as i know, and i believe he preferred to make them without the 6 1/2, which i couldn't live without. i may be wrong on that one....i rarely play anyone else's dulcimer because the strings play in a different language.

one interesting aspect of the equidistant four-string is that the fingerboard is wider than the traditional. i am able to move my strings around to create the trad. setup, but it's not easy to play that way, with the huge width between the strings, so i leave it as the equidisant all of the time.

tam has a wonderful STUFFED toy dulcimer in his living room, made for him by the renowned guitar maker, grit laskin! it even has stuffed tuning pegs!

~black walnut


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Subject: RE: Four Equidistant String Dulcimer?
From: dulcimer
Date: 15 May 00 - 06:22 AM

Black Walnut--I'm not sure what you mean by figureboard is wider. Some makers make the nuts to accommodate 4-equidistant strings on standard size dulcimers with no wider fingerboards. The only significant fignure spacing problem I encountered was if I wanted to use both melody strings playing the same note. Then two figures would have to act as one.


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Subject: RE: Four Equidistant String Dulcimer?
From: GUEST,BanjoDave
Date: 15 May 00 - 09:08 AM

Howie Mitchell did a book and record on dulcimers and had some info on using the four equidistant string setup. The record/cassette and book are/were available from the Patons at Folk Legacy in Ct.


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Subject: RE: Four Equidistant String Dulcimer?
From: black walnut
Date: 15 May 00 - 10:24 AM

thanks.... that mitchell stuff sounds interesting...i'll look it up!

dulcimer, my fretboard is 1 7/16" wide, and the distance between the 1st and 4rth strings is almost 1 1/4 ". how much wider is that than standard? i have honestly rarely played any other dulcimer. i assume mine is built wider to make it easier to play 4 note chords. it works well for me. i have long thin fingers, which aids the big stretches.

the reason i went for the model i did is because i went with lorraine's advice. i have to say that it is a fabulous dulcimer. if i ever get another, i'll get it from dwain, but he has a 7 year waiting list,..,..

actually, i was just talking to him about having a bowing bridge made for my dulcimer. have you ever heard of/experienced that? i can't wait. i'll need to find a small used suzuki bow now...

~'nut


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Subject: RE: Four Equidistant String Dulcimer?
From: Pinetop Slim
Date: 15 May 00 - 10:42 AM

Black Walnut: Lorraine was my first teacher, also, and the dulcimer I play most often is a four-equidistant-string model built by Dwain Wilder. I switch around to three-string setups sometime and have worked my way through some of the problems of converting tabulature. I'm nowhere near Toronto, but I'd be happy to talk if you care to e-mail.


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Subject: RE: Four Equidistant String Dulcimer?
From: black walnut
Date: 15 May 00 - 10:53 AM

absolutely! wonderful!

(which does not mean that i will not keep posting to the thread....i just have a few other things to look after first....such as lesson planning, changing water in the aquarium, husking corn on the cob....)

glad to hear from you ALL!!!

~'nut


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Subject: RE: Four Equidistant String Dulcimer?
From: tar_heel
Date: 15 May 00 - 11:22 AM

my dulcimer is made of wormy chestnut.the wood came from the basement of the late ALBERT HASH,of whitetop,virginia.ALBERT was one of the great instrument makers of that region.my dulcimer was made by WALTER MESSICK,also of whitetop,virginia.WALTER learned his craft fom ALBERT HASH.my dulcimer has a rich mellow tone that is produced by the wormy chestnut. i use the tuning of g,d,d,d,in our family band.we perform many of the old-time cater family songs and use the dulcimer like momma maybell used the autoharp.it definitely gives us a unique sound. when performing instrumentals in competition,i use the d,a,a,a,tuning.it gves my dulcimer its natural sound. i do not perform many "dulcimer tunes".i have found this instrument to be a very VERSATILE instrument and using it for the music that we love and play just really FEELS GOOD!! and so,that is the style of dulcimer music i enjoy best...WHATEVER FEELS GOOD!!


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Subject: RE: Four Equidistant String Dulcimer?
From: Jigger
Date: 15 May 00 - 12:00 PM

What a small folk world! I just started learning dulcimer with Lorraine about two months ago. She convinced all of us in her class to have our dulcimers reconfigured to fit four equidistant strings. I believe she favors the style because, to echo what Chuck was saying, it lends to the versatility of the instrument. It's music - there's no one "right" way of playing.

I wonder how many other players there are scattered throughout the world who play with 4 equally spaced strings because it was Lorraine who taught them...

I feel fortunate to be living in Boston where there is such a vibrant folk community. I'm still young (relatively young...) and have so much to learn, and it's wonderful to have so many supportive teachers around.

Jigger


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Subject: RE: Four Equidistant String Dulcimer?
From: dulcimer
Date: 15 May 00 - 08:33 PM

BlackWalnut--Your dulcimer appears to be fairly standard. Chuck--glad you put "dulcimer tunes" in quotes. At one time I purchased dulcimer books and collected tabbed music for workshops. I don't believe there are dulcimer tunes, just tunes played on the dulcimer. I find it much more rewarding to find music I hear from printed or net sources and work it into my own.


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Subject: RE: Four Equidistant String Dulcimer?
From: GUEST,squirrel
Date: 16 May 00 - 12:39 AM

I got a factory dulcimer last July, and played it until I thought I needed my own. My new dulcimer is a Kurt Simerman (Leo, IN), and will accomodate four equidistant strings. I have not tried them, and have not found any tablature for it. I like to play D-A-A, and have bought about every book available, confused myself to the max at times, but I like to think that I am starting to form my own method of playing. I consult Dennis DenHartog (folknotes.com) in my area, he's great. I also belong to a historical singing group, these girls have been playing for 10 and 20 years-they are so forgiving of my talent. Anyway, my new dulcimer has a wormy chestnut top (from an old barn), and walnut body. Kurt contracted a wood carver to carve a squirrel at the scroll, and designed squirrel soundholes, as per my wishes. Since squirrel has always been my nickname, I thought it appropriate to have a "squirrelcimer." I am working very hard to play as good as the dulcimer looks. I use my extra string at times for a double melody string, but usually I park it at the side of the fretboard. Is there such a thing as mandolin tablature, and would that work on the dulcimer?


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Subject: RE: Four Equidistant String Dulcimer?
From: black walnut
Date: 16 May 00 - 02:18 PM

yes, chuck, it is such a very verstatile instrument. frustrating at times, but then you find another way around it. the two most frustrating things for me at the moment are not being able to capo quickly and smartly like the guitars i am surrounded with, and having my arms go numb and cold while and after playing.

so, dulc', my fretboard it normal???? whew.... whatdoyouknow? you can just never tell when you're only looking at your own instrument!
i don't often follow tabs. for quite a while at the beginning i learned some of lorraine's arrangements to songs, especially from her very good book (for either setup) called 'The Magic Dulcimer'. these days i'm drawn to the jazzier chords and slide effects i can get with the 4 string. i need to do more composing.... i might be wrong about this, but i think that DDAD on a 4 string is different even cross-picked because you get that higher drone D on the second string. i know what you're saying about getting the melody to be heard in jams...in that situation i usually do melody on strings 1 and 4 simultaneously, or just on 4. it's not as complicated, but it's a lot of fun.

squirrel, i thought the Simerman's looked good on the web. getting squirrel soundholes is cool. my bearmeadow dulcimer has magnolia blossom soundholes. my next one (in my head, not on order) will have celtic inlaid soundholes.

a year ago i had the privilege of co-leading a dulcimer workshop with Kathy Reid-Naiman. this is a list of the different tunings i used at that workshop:

CDAD
DDAD
CDGD
CDGD
EBG#E (with this tuning i played slide dulcimer to Amazing Grace)
DBbGC (minor melody goes to the bass string)
BbCGD(which is CDAD retuned lower....which actually affects the way the strings play, so i consider it a different tuning, in a way)
CCGC (a retuning of DDAD)
EbEbBbEb (a retuning of DDAD)

i'd be interested in knowing other configurations that work, too.

i use lightweight strings, quite a bit lighter than the ones that come in those 'dulcimer sets'.

jigger, please 'hi and hug' lorraine for me. tell her it's that crazy dulcimer player from 'the woods', and she'll know who you mean! we still write on occasion....

~black walnut


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Subject: RE: Four Equidistant String Dulcimer?
From: black walnut
Date: 18 May 00 - 08:13 AM

where o where did my little thread go?

did i scare everybody with my 4 string tangles?

~b.w.


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Subject: RE: Four Equidistant String Dulcimer?
From: black walnut
Date: 18 May 00 - 01:05 PM

dear 'dulcimer':

i finally had a chance to peruse the 'Sweet Music' site. thank you....it's wonderful!!

~black walnut


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Subject: RE: Four Equidistant String Dulcimer?
From: Roger in Baltimore
Date: 23 May 00 - 07:42 PM

Black Walnut,

I was thumbing through a used music book pile and bought a little pamphlet for "Playing Blues on the Appalachian Dulcimer. I have a standard four string with the two "melody" strings paired. The book was for dulcimers with 4 equidistant strings. So there must be more information out there.

Roger in Baltimore (feeling real comfortable at my own computer for once)


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Subject: RE: Four Equidistant String Dulcimer?
From: black walnut
Date: 23 May 00 - 09:50 PM

OH! OH! OH!

A blues book for my dulcimer!
I must have it! I must get it!

Please tell me all about it, Roger, all the details!

~black walnut who has just died and gone to heaven


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Subject: RE: Four Equidistant String Dulcimer?
From: Pinetop Slim
Date: 24 May 00 - 09:51 AM

There's also "Blues and Ragtime for Fretted Dulcimer" by Janita Baker. Doesn't seem to be available on Amazon, but maybe some other Mudcat-friendly vendor has it? Otherwise you can find it through a bunch of dulcimer sites on the web.


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Subject: RE: Four Equidistant String Dulcimer?
From: Chris Seymour
Date: 24 May 00 - 10:39 PM

I have a dulcimer made by a wonderful craftsperson and eccentric named Michael Bourquin who runs a shop called "The Flop Eared Muse" in Philadelphia. It has notches for both trad and 4-string setup, and I use the latter. Michael, who's the only person I took any lessons from (two; I'm really self-taught), showed me something out of the Howie Mitchell book -- an arrangment of "Drink to Me Only" -- that arrangement has lots 'n' lots of chords and thus is a great resource.

Good luck, all.


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