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Hammered Dulcimer Amplification

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DonMeixner 21 Mar 99 - 02:52 AM
catspaw49 21 Mar 99 - 08:19 AM
DonMeixner 21 Mar 99 - 04:12 PM
Sam Pirt 21 Mar 99 - 05:59 PM
catspaw49 21 Mar 99 - 06:46 PM
Vixen 22 Mar 99 - 08:09 AM
catspaw49 22 Mar 99 - 08:30 AM
Don Meixner 22 Mar 99 - 08:57 AM
catspaw49 22 Mar 99 - 09:11 AM
catspaw49 22 Mar 99 - 09:13 AM
Don 22 Mar 99 - 09:14 AM
catspaw49 22 Mar 99 - 09:33 AM
GUEST,Guest 07 Nov 08 - 11:31 PM
GUEST 08 Nov 08 - 06:41 AM
The Villan 08 Nov 08 - 02:35 PM
GUEST,Alan Wood 08 Nov 08 - 04:22 PM
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Subject: Hammered Dulcimer Amplification
From: DonMeixner
Date: 21 Mar 99 - 02:52 AM

I play a Hammered Dulcimer through our Peavy board. The Instrument has a transducer pickup and a preamp but the sound is awful. Everything blends together into tinny mud. Any ideas.

Don


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Subject: RE: Hammered Dulcimer Amplification
From: catspaw49
Date: 21 Mar 99 - 08:19 AM

Prayer.

Sorry Don. Although the past 3 years have been limited to special projects and repairs only, I've built over a hundred HD's and been to boatloads of festivals, street fairs, etc. I know at least a couple dozen other builders both large and small and I can say with assurance that prayer is your best answer. I'm really not trying to be funny at all Don...I have only heard 2 HD's that had any kind of installed pick-ups that sounded in a way that you or I would say was acceptable...not great, but acceptable. One was some kind of Fishman looking thing that the girl said her Dad took off of a mandolin...beats me, that's all she knew! The other was a transducer/pickup assembly designed for saxophones and screwed in through the back. I tried this one and it wasn't any better on my trial horse than a Shure mike, ...although I could have bought something more expensive that MAY have been better.

The problem is that outside of Dusty Strings, no builder is in a true factory set-up and no one is going to make their millions on HD's. Most of us just kinda' love the stupid things!!! In our case, hopefully by next year at this time, we'll be back to where we were going with our emphasis on musical folk toys for kids (and adults!). Our dulcimers provide some income and a lot of "legitimacy" and get us to educational venues as well. At all kinds of street fairs, we can play a bit, educate a bit, and send a child home with a simple stick dulcimer or board zither and the knowledge that there's more than the radio and MTV. At folk and dulcimer fests it can be even better, but sometimes the non-musical events give more exposure to talk and play tunes of times past, not forgotten. (End of Mission Statement...Sorry)

The real problem in amplification comes in several ways. First, since there are not too many HD's out there, there isn't much being done...maybe we should get Kaman involved..."Ovation Hammered Dulcimers...Plug In".........maybe not! Also, most HD's aren't used in applications like yours. Then the really big problem is simply with the acoustics of the instrument. The harmonics and sympathetic overtones and sustain are so tremendous...and an integral part of the beast! Remember the guitar amp thread? I almost brought this up then, but comparing the acoustics of a guitar to a HD is analagous to comparing my first Commodore 64 to this Gateway 450.

So after all this, I only have one suggestion that might be useful. Increase the height of your bridge rails by an eighth to three-sixteenths of an inch. You'll decrease the sustain and sympathetic harmonics and that will clear up the muddiness to some degree. Wasn't that thrilling? Whoopee. (catspaw writes major dissertation to tell me to raise the rails.) Probably already tried that haven't you? Once again I prove myself to be a cesspool of unknowledge.

Best of luck and let me know if something works on yours...that's another problem, significantly differing interior soundbox design.......oh well. Lemme' know!

catspaw


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Subject: RE: Hammered Dulcimer Amplification
From: DonMeixner
Date: 21 Mar 99 - 04:12 PM

Thanks Cat, that really ckears things up alot. :-)))) I was actually afraid that was gonna be the answer. I've tried mics but the feed back issue is just as bad. Hi Z vocal mics and a low Z instrument mic is adangerous mix. Maybe i'll just rip out the tansducer and build great long magnetics for the thing. There was a description of how to do this in the AutoHarp Quarterly some years back. Or perhaps I'll put it to work as a cheese slicer.

Thanks again, I appreciate the effort greatly.

Don


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Subject: RE: Hammered Dulcimer Amplification
From: Sam Pirt
Date: 21 Mar 99 - 05:59 PM

If I were you I would try using bug mics. I play in a celidh band and the bug mics fit under the fiddle bridge quite well. They also give a good sound. If you put a couple under the bridges near the sound holes it should work. I think that the idea of 'plug in and play' is good but due to the mic being fitted into the interior it means you get the sound from inside the dulcimer and not what the listener hears.

I hope I've been of some help

Bye, Sam


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Subject: RE: Hammered Dulcimer Amplification
From: catspaw49
Date: 21 Mar 99 - 06:46 PM

Hey thanks Don...and seriously, if you come up with something lemme' know.

catspaw


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Subject: RE: Hammered Dulcimer Amplification
From: Vixen
Date: 22 Mar 99 - 08:09 AM

Dear HD players--

My musical partner plays HD, and he solved the amplification problem with size. Instead of a 2 and 3 string arrangement, his has a 3 and 4 string arrangement. The instrument is HUGE (compared to other HDs I've seen). Its easily 42" at the bottom and 24" at the top, and about 30" from bottom to top. It's about 3" thick. He uses a special frame on a speaker stand to hold it. It weighs about 20 lbs. But it gets great sound and it fills large and noisy rooms with no difficulty, unamplified. It's got some problems--the string tension has caused it to pull apart, which has had to be repaired with (gasp!) sheetrock screws. I realize on rereading that I'm describing the Blue Ox of hammered dulcimers, but it really does have volume and clear sound. We play a lot of Renaissance dance tunes, and it sounds remarkably similar to a harpsichord.

If anyone is interested, I can get the name of the maker--I don't know if he's still building them.

V


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Subject: RE: Hammered Dulcimer Amplification
From: catspaw49
Date: 22 Mar 99 - 08:30 AM

Three and four string courses are less common than they used to be, but that was the common stringing arrangement for hundreds of years. Two string course dulcimers have only become the norm within the past 40 or 50 and that's a drop in the bucket for a 2000 year old instrument. There is certainly some volume difference, but better string materials, better research on tonewoods, better design and construction techniques, better rail caps, etc. have negated most of the volume difference. My HD's have no problem carrying outdoor venues and large halls either. Nor would HD's from Hudson, Dusty Strings, Chris Foss, and others.

Don's problem lies with the band he's in which amplifies other instruments as well and no HD can compete with that. Also multiple string courses will potentially increase the sympathetic harmonics even more and make any electric amplifying harder yet.

But it does sound like your friend has a really neat dulcimer...and I bet tension IS a problem!!!

catspaw


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Subject: RE: Hammered Dulcimer Amplification
From: Don Meixner
Date: 22 Mar 99 - 08:57 AM

Thanks Vixen. I have considered that as an option. I'll bet it has a VOLUMINOUS tone.

Cat, this may bean isea tho' Have you considered a reonator like a banjo may have and attaching a transducer to the resonator rather than the sound board. The resonator would have to be isolated from the instrument with felt pads perhaps so any vvibration on the resonating surface would be from primary sound and less likely to be interfered with by harmonic over tones.

Am I making any sense?

Don


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Subject: RE: Hammered Dulcimer Amplification
From: catspaw49
Date: 22 Mar 99 - 09:11 AM

Why not??? These are the voyages of the Starship Meixner, exploring new worlds and daring to go where no man has gone before.

Seriously I get your idea and you may have a point with the resonator. It might have to be insulated less or more...I could see that being one of the trial and error things.....size would be important too, better too large and mute (get one of Art's rubber chickens) than too small. Sounds like an idea to me!!!! Go for it!!!!

catspaw


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Subject: RE: Hammered Dulcimer Amplification
From: catspaw49
Date: 22 Mar 99 - 09:13 AM

And as a trial, the resonator wouldn't have to be too exotic either...I think you could try it pretty cheaply.

catspaw


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Subject: RE: Hammered Dulcimer Amplification
From: Don
Date: 22 Mar 99 - 09:14 AM

I was thinking Baltic Birch, Thats what the HD is made from I think. Dusty Strings Apprentice.


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Subject: RE: Hammered Dulcimer Amplification
From: catspaw49
Date: 22 Mar 99 - 09:33 AM

Sounds fine...I've used it myself...works easily..easy to get.

catspaw


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Subject: RE: Hammered Dulcimer Amplification
From: GUEST,Guest
Date: 07 Nov 08 - 11:31 PM

Hds are real tough to mike because they act like theres actually 2 soundboards on the top due to the supports under the top and bridges.

What works real nice on most HDs is a pair of SM57s or any other simuar responce mike set about a foot above the HD, one on each side about centered between the bridges and about 6 inches in from the short side. Theyre out of the way there but still clos eenough to avoid a lot of feedback issues. Cut back the treb a touch on the board to solve a lot of feedback issues and the result is a good sound. A good contact mike stuck in a handhold, if there is one, on the underside can add a lot to the overall sound too. As no 2 are exactly alike try a bit of expermenting around for the best sound if possible. If not go with the 2 mike setup.

Many have a long substain and that is what can muddy up the sound of fast tunes. The Masterworks ones are notiouris for this. Russel Cook makes them for his kind of music, mostly hymhs and slower tunes. Some of taht substain can be overcome by using padded hammers and a lighter touch.


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Subject: RE: Hammered Dulcimer Amplification
From: GUEST
Date: 08 Nov 08 - 06:41 AM

Hi all,
I've been a pro Dulcimer player for many years and have found that there are two good ways of ampflication, first is a sterio pair of condencer mikes (cm1000s are ok). Second and more interestingly, go to an electronics store ie: maplins and buy a piezo crystal disc(two brass discs with a piezo crystal filling) They cost about 50 pence, try to get one with a peel off sticky back. Attach to your dulcimers soundboard (experiment before you stick it down for the best position). Solder a wire to each of the discs and connect a female jack plug. That's it, your ready to go, no pre-amp needed (loads of signal) no feed back.

Maclaine Colston


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Subject: RE: Hammered Dulcimer Amplification
From: The Villan
Date: 08 Nov 08 - 02:35 PM

Anybody tried Maclaine Colston's suggestion yet. Would be interesting to hear how anybody gets on with it.


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Subject: RE: Hammered Dulcimer Amplification
From: GUEST,Alan Wood
Date: 08 Nov 08 - 04:22 PM

I,ve been playing HD in a country dance band for over 20 years. I've tried numerous things, including pre amps, contact pick ups, micro strips stuck all over the place.. even a melodeon pick up ( which wasn't too bad ) and I now use 2 SM50's , fairly close up, left and right pointing at the sound holes... it goes through the band mixing desk ( Spirit )and it is OK...as long as the band don't go too loud.


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