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Help: Dulcimer amplification

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GUEST, 16 Jun 01 - 11:27 AM
Bill D 16 Jun 01 - 12:10 PM
catspaw49 16 Jun 01 - 12:17 PM
Chicken Charlie 16 Jun 01 - 04:30 PM
catspaw49 16 Jun 01 - 04:44 PM
GUEST,dan doty 10 May 10 - 11:26 PM
GUEST,bikertkeuk 22 Jul 10 - 12:16 PM
GUEST,leeneia 23 Jul 10 - 09:59 AM
GUEST 02 Feb 11 - 05:23 PM
GUEST,Jholmes 13 Dec 18 - 07:20 AM
leeneia 13 Dec 18 - 11:08 AM
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Subject: Dulcimer amplification
From: GUEST,
Date: 16 Jun 01 - 11:27 AM

Am soliciting opinions as to the best way to amplify a lap dulcimer so as to have the most natural sound, as well as volume for playing within a group. Any ideas? Thanks again! Judy

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Subject: RE: Help: Dulcimer amplification
From: Bill D
Date: 16 Jun 01 - 12:10 PM

#1 is the make of dulcimer...#2 might be to experiment with different surfaces to set it on...(perhaps a thin board between lap & dulcimer)...#3 would be different types of pick...(plastic rings more than fingertips)...#4 is the room and where you sit in it...

all these assume you are avoiding getting into mechanical/electric pick-ups....

some instruments are just plain harder to make loud, (get your friends to play softer...*smile*

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Subject: RE: Help: Dulcimer amplification
From: catspaw49
Date: 16 Jun 01 - 12:17 PM

If you're looking for electonic amplification, I'd talk to these folks at Pick-Up the World. Several of os have had good success with them and their pickup are especially good at reproducing natural sound. Give 'em a holler.....


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Subject: RE: Help: Dulcimer amplification
From: Chicken Charlie
Date: 16 Jun 01 - 04:30 PM

Our group, primarily by reason of shortage of funds, spent a long time trying to pretend that its shyer and better behaved instruments--mando, autoharp and both kinds of dulcimers--could be heard either barefoot or through a vocal mike. The next shared deception was that holding any of these a constant three point two inches from a mike while performing is easy and has no adverse effects. (Actually it causes blindness and cancer in lab rats.)

Biting the proverbial bullet we robbed two convenience stores and now have pic-ups all around, innkeeper, at about $80 a pop installed. Except the hammered dulcimer and the banjo.

I'm afraid it's the only way to balance. But I do admire my purist friends who spend days searching for the livest accoustic situations so they can be heard by people other than those sitting on their laps when they play.

Next we spent a good long morning tweaking the sound system, because each instrument makes slightly different demands on the sound system, and we wrote all the settings down. (I've gotten serious in this paragraph.) I also invested in some colored instrument cords which takes the guesswork (hand me that black cord, would ya?) out of setting up.

At the risk of starting major thread creep: I like thin picks. Using the nice built-in pick-up also lets me do that, because volume "at the string" is no longer as much of a concern as it was before we got wired, so to speak.

I'm not tech-minded enough to remember the specs on what I got, but you'll prob. have it installed anyway, so leave that to your most trusted electronics person, but do it, because nothing short of doing it will be totally satisfactory.


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Subject: RE: Help: Dulcimer amplification
From: catspaw49
Date: 16 Jun 01 - 04:44 PM

LMAO CC........That 3.2 inches bit cracked me up. A couple of places I used to go for the "Olde Towne" type fests with a Hammered had sound systems in the village, your basic PA systems, and they'd want those of us who were playing HD's to "Plug-In" and create "ambience." I am sure you, and anyone who plays HD has heard this:

"Oh, could you please....It sounds so nice and we were hoping you could just use our PA......yada,yada.."

One of the little restored towns DID have a very decent PA and when I plugged my trusty Shure in, it did a great job. But the "3.2" thing really becomes a visual nightmare! The best place always turns out to be where I'm guarranteed to whack it about 4 times per tune with a hammer!.....Not to mention having the damn thing in your field of vision.


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Subject: RE: Help: Dulcimer amplification
From: GUEST,dan doty
Date: 10 May 10 - 11:26 PM

The best and handiest way to amp a lap dulcimer for small intimate settings I have found to be is a Danelectro mini amp with a Barcus Berry "stick on" transducer.

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Subject: RE: Help: Dulcimer amplification
From: GUEST,bikertkeuk
Date: 22 Jul 10 - 12:16 PM

I've just finished fitting a pickup to a mountain dulcimer. I made a small plate from an imitation tortoiseshell guitar pickguard. To this I fitted a switchcraft jack socket wired to the ground terminal and the centre one of a 1 megohm mini potentiometer, also fitted to the plate. Next came a cheap 'n cheerful piezo pickup from Maplin (69 pence!) wired across the outer terminals. I very carefully made a slot in the side of the dulcimer furthest away when you're playing it, near the tail, stuck the pickup inside under the playing hollow and screwed the plate on. The slot in the dulcimer body nicely cleared the jack and pot and was just big enough to get a couple of fingers in to stick the pickup in with a heavy-duty double-sided pad. IMHO it looks good with the chrome jack and a low profile knob, and it retains the "open" sound of the instrument. The amp controls can be used to adust the tone to taste and the volume knob on the dulcimer loads the pickup and reduces the risk of feedback. It picks up handling and picking noises too, but that's all part of playing an acoustic instrument. Estimated cost of the bits? - less than £5!

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Subject: RE: Help: Dulcimer amplification
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 23 Jul 10 - 09:59 AM

I have a comment to add which has nothing to do with playing in a group or with electricity. But it might be of interest to anyone who plays lap dulcimer and is reading this thread.

I found that my dulcimer is louder when I do two simple things.

1. I don't play it on my lap, I put it on a table.

2. I put four balls of stick 'em (the stuff they sell for putting up posters) on the bottom, so that the bottom of the dulcimer is suspended above the table. (Across the pond it is called Blu-tack.)

I put the stick 'em on the outer edge of the dulcie, where I assume it deadens no vibrations.

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Subject: RE: Help: Dulcimer amplification
Date: 02 Feb 11 - 05:23 PM

K&K makes dulcimer pickups,also standard electric guitar pickups,esp alnico vintage style can sound great on dulcimers. esp when played through a class A tube amp ,for a sweet warm tone.
   For acoustic amplification,styrofoam has surprising qualities,try laying a dulcimer across a styrofoam ice chest,or one of those boxes peole pack fish in,you can get a nice boost,esp if it sits on it's nodal points.

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Subject: RE: Help: Dulcimer amplification
From: GUEST,Jholmes
Date: 13 Dec 18 - 07:20 AM

A large group I played with each bought a small battery-powered amp and a lavelvet mike. Dripped the Mike into a sound hole and pretty good increased sound.

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Subject: RE: Help: Dulcimer amplification
From: leeneia
Date: 13 Dec 18 - 11:08 AM

If you are interested in a louder sound without an amp or mic, see my post of July 23, 2010 above.

I have changed what I do. Instead of using blu-tak, which flattens with time, I make pads from the rubbery material which is sold to line shelves. You can buy it in supermarkets or hardware stores. Each pad is about 1 inch by 1-1/2. It has four layers of the padding, and I sew them together with needle and thread - a single stitch in the center, which is then tied in a knot.

Four of these, set under the edge of the instrument, keep it from sliding and make it louder.

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