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PostPosted: Mon Oct 10, 2005 7:10 pm 
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Location: Horsepoo Country
Okay.

Whenever I see a noob ask "Which xxx should I buy?", my first reaction is "Do yer homework, noob!!"

But I have been doing my homework, searching the web and bothering Brother Byll with newbie questions and I'm still at sea.

My main problem is that I have no hands on exposure to the HD, and it doesn't seem likely that I will so I have to depend on other people's recommendations. I know that there is a great deal of subjectivity here, but I will just have to live with that. I also have a limited budget but I am willing to simply walk away from the idea if I cannot afford a satisfactory instrument.

Therefore, rather than ask what would be the "best" choice given my budget, I will ask the question this way: Which HD did you start with, were you happy with it and why.

Discuss.

Roger

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 11, 2005 5:00 am 
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I started with an 11/12, made by a luthier that is no longer living, and I was NOT happy with it (if you really want to know the name, pm me). It was heavy as all get out and would NOT hold it's tuning. I bought it second hand, and after I had it for 5 years, it developed a huge crack across the soundboard. I contacted the luthier (who was still alive then) and it would have been over $300 to replace the soundboard, and who knows whether I would even like the sound afterwards.

I bought a 14/15 Masterworks Ultralight instead of getting that one fixed. Weighs MUCH less, and holds a tune wonderfully.
http://www.woodnstrings.com/

Another good luthier (and all around nice guy, and great player) is Rick Thum:
http://www.rthum.com/
I got to noodle with his "Traveler" for a week this summer - great instrument.

I'd go with the biggest you can afford. You will want those extra notes sooner or later.

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 11, 2005 9:26 am 
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After much research on the web and talking to several local hammer and mountain dulcimer players, I recently bought my wife (who is a much more talented muscian than I am) a Songbird from http://www.songbirdhd.com/index.html
I bought her the 16/15 Phoebe model. While I certainly agree that Rick Thum makes beautiful instruments, the Songbirds are beautifully made and are much more moderately priced. My wife's teacher (who has a number of hammer dulcimers and has been teaching professionally for over 25 years) is very impressed with it.


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 11, 2005 10:31 am 
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I second Missy's "go with the biggest you can afford". I have a Rick Thum 16/16. It is what I started with and still play. It's been a little over 4 years 4 now and I wouldn't trade it on another one for anything. I love the sound and it has a couple of chromatic notes here and there, and so far, I haven't came across anything that I haven't been able to play on my RT. I have not tried a huge amount of Classical music so that might be why I have been ok with what I have.

Brother Byll probably knows more about playing HD's than any other HD player that I know of so if your getting advice from Byll, than your covered pretty well!

One of the best things you could do is to go to a dulcimer festival and try out different dulcimers. This is what I did. I had a person that lived near me that loaned me her extra dulcimer to see if I really wanted to learn, then when I decided I couldn't love with out one, I ordered mine from Rick. The borrowed one was built by Dan Duggan. It has a louder sound than mine and it doesn't have quite the sound I like, but I took a workshop from him this summer and he is an awesome player.

If you want to more input or have other questions, check out the discussion forums at http://www.everythingdulcimer.com The people there are really helpful.

Cheers,
Kathy :)

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 11, 2005 10:36 am 
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:lol: By the way, Where is horse poo country? :lol:

I might know of someone near you that plays HD and you could try one out yourself.

Cheers,
Kathy :)

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 11, 2005 10:45 am 
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chattiekathy wrote:
:lol: By the way, Where is horse poo country? :lol:

Anywhere there are horses. They ain't real picky... :wink:


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 11, 2005 5:52 pm 
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I'll add a qualifier on "the biggest you can afford" comments. Check the amount of space you have in your car! If you get a monster, it may not fit. And consider how you're going to pack the thing. For me, packing is a big deal because I'm a quarter mile or more from the road, over fairly rough terrain. I can't just grab my dulcimer and go when the weather is inclement. But I do love the extra notes.

I started with an 11/12 too, made by a luthier where I was living then. I really liked it. But now I find the range really limited.

I'd consider an instrument with the extra bass bridge added on the _right_ side of the instrument. This allows you to use some of the same hammering patterns when you go into the lower range, something that's awkward with my current instrument. I have a friend with one of these and it is fun in that aspect.

I haven't tried enough different makers to recommend one over another. I like my Dusty Strings. There are lots of great instruments out there! Have fun choosing.

Jennie


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 11, 2005 5:52 pm 
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I'll add a qualifier on "the biggest you can afford" comments. Check the amount of space you have in your car! If you get a monster, it may not fit. And consider how you're going to pack the thing. For me, packing is a big deal because I'm a quarter mile or more from the road, over fairly rough terrain. I can't just grab my dulcimer and go when the weather is inclement. But I do love the extra notes.

I started with an 11/12 too, made by a luthier where I was living then. I really liked it. But now I find the range really limited.

I'd consider an instrument with the extra bass bridge added on the _right_ side of the instrument. This allows you to use some of the same hammering patterns when you go into the lower range, something that's awkward with my current instrument. I have a friend with one of these and it is fun in that aspect.

I haven't tried enough different makers to recommend one over another. I like my Dusty Strings. There are lots of great instruments out there! Have fun choosing.

Jennie


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 11, 2005 7:03 pm 
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chattykathy wrote:
:lol: By the way, Where is horse poo country? :lol:


Well, it's right here in Lexington KY, Horse Capitol of the World!

I live not far from Wilde Cathy or John Skelton, but carpal tunnel syndrome has made me despair of ever learning the flute. I thought about trying the Irish Harp, but I think that's a little wimpy for my tastes. Then last week I saw someone playing the HD at the Cincinatti Celtic Fest (for some reason he was in a little booth filled with historical trivia about Ben Franklin and dressed as same) and was utterly fascinated by it (the instrument - the playing was OK.) On the way out I picked up the Drop by Drop CD by Dave Copley's group, Ceol Mhor and heard some very nice HD playing on that and so I decided to have a go. (BTW, Dave is a really nice guy, but I think everybody else aleady knew that.)

"The biggest you can afford" is apparently a widely respected rule. However, the question of material is of great significance to the HD's sound as well as price, I've been told, but opinions vary. For example, the following is part of a luthier's reply to a query:

Quote:
The bias against plywood is generated by the guitar market, and is mostly mythology. In a hammered dulcimer, perceived differences in tone are created mostly by differences in the density of the wood of the top, and birch is a heavy wood, so an instrument with a less dense top, like spruce will have a quicker attack, and therefore a perceived tone difference. It won't be louder, but you will perceive the tone differently, and say one is "brighter", or the other is"dryer" ... But the differences have nothing to do with whether the top is plywood or not...


Then there is the question of string spacing, with some insisting that 1" or less is uncomfortably close and others saying that a player adjusts quickly to any spacing.

For the moment I have decided to make no decision. Both the Phoebe and Traveller made my short list. If I can enhance the meager pile of pennies I have allocated for this project, I will consider a James Jones Student 15/14. Beyond that, I may be able to go as far as a Master Works 15/14 or Dusty Strings D35 16/15. Or more choices may simply reduce me to a dithering idiot. (Been there - done that)

Thanks for the posts so far - I really do appreciate the help.

Roger

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 12, 2005 11:47 am 
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Denny,
That was a good one. :lol:

Roger,
Here is a link to some dulimcer clubs in Kentucky. Some of them might be for mountain dulcimers but some of them are for both hammered dulcimer and mountain dulcimer. You might be close enough to call and ask if someone would let you play on theirs t see the difference in how they sound.
http://everythingdulcimer.com/clubs.php?state=KY

If your lucky enough to buy one, Here is a list of teachers in KY. I don't have anyone close to me that teaches.
http://everythingdulcimer.com/teachers.php?state=KS

I have a young neighbor girl who wants to play Hammered dulcimer. She comes here and plays on mine now, but she wants one for her birthday so she is thinking of ordering from here: http://www.sweetsongstringband.com/davi ... inetAnchor
I have never heard one of these played, but some of the players that he has listed as people that prefer these dulcimers are some famous players.

Best of luck finding one you like and can afford. That is a big hold up for lots of people that want to play one. I got lucky because I married a guy who is into playing with trains so it's a good leverage for me. :lol:

Cheers,
Kathy :)

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 19, 2005 11:43 am 
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Try this site!

http://www.craggymtnmusic.com/hammered_dulcimers.html

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 19, 2005 11:46 am 
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I have excellent experience with Craggy Mtn.

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 20, 2005 6:32 pm 
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Thanks for the suggestion.

I googled hammered dulcimers and I think that I have seen just about every site on which those two words appear. I am most strongly considering the 16/15 Phoebe form Songbird (Chris Foss) or the Thum 13/12 Meadowlark. O'Brien's 15/14 looks nice but I have no way of knowing if it is worth $100 more than the Phoebe.

However, the longer I shop ebay the more I am getting a feel for the availability of good used instruments. An older Dusty Strings D300 just went for $700 with stand, case and books. Right now there are a couple of Dusty Strings D10's, a Meadowlark, a Maple Valley and a couple of others. I'm not even looking at the no-name or asian models. The nice thing about the used market is that many people seem to have gone whole-hog and they have the case, stand and a batch of books as well.

The key in any auction is patience.

Roger

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 25, 2005 5:35 am 
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I've got a Songbird 17/16/8 by Chris Foss. Great dulcimer. Holds tuning very well. A little trouble early on in the higher strings. I adjusted the treble bridge a little and it's fine.

My only complaint is the size. It's very difficult to cart around. I'm still kicking myself for not buying a smaller one when I had the chance earlier this year.

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 25, 2005 2:42 pm 
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You mentioned a James Jones Student Model. I have a 3/17/17 that I really enjoy. It has a good range, although I seldom use the bottom two courses on the treble bridge. If I were to do it over, I might go with a 16/15, but I'm not sure.

Good luck with whatever you end up with.

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