Page 2 of 2

Re: Mountain Dulcimer?

Posted: Wed Oct 03, 2012 3:37 pm
by The_walrus0
I was just considering going the guitar or mandolin route...

I am not sure why I can't make up my mind! Though I suppose I'll play whatever I get. ;)

I figure I will go down to the music shop and play with all the instruments until one I can afford makes me buy it. :)

Re: Mountain Dulcimer?

Posted: Wed Oct 10, 2012 10:18 am
by Tim2723
I was just reminded of something during a discussion about fiddle strings. You said you were considering buying several special sets of strings to experiment with on the MD. Note that three of the four strings are plain steel and will be basically the same no matter whose name is on the label. Only the fourth (bass) string is wound. What McSpadden calls 'squeakless' strings are simply a set of three plain strings with one flat-wound bass string. Other sets use round-wound bass strings, and it's the round windings that produce string squeak**.

If you want to play around with squeakless strings you can save a lot by getting a single flat-wound guitar string of the correct gauge from your music store. There's no need to waste money and time on the other three strings. There's really no such thing as dulcimer strings. They are all just guitar strings. When they sell dulcimer strings it just means they've gathered four of the right ones together in a convenient package. But that's more expensive.

**Round-wound strings are wound with a round wire that leaves ridges that you can feel with your fingernail. Flat-wound strings are wrapped with a flat piece of foil to eliminate the ridges.

Re: Mountain Dulcimer?

Posted: Wed Oct 17, 2012 5:55 pm
by DulcimerDan
Hey Guys,
I am new to the forum and this is my very first post. I play the Mountain Dulcimer (I live in the heartland of the instrument) and thought I might have some input on this thread.
McSpadden instruments are top notch and probably the most popular of all mountain dulcimers. Every serious player has at least one! But keep in mind the scale length on the McSpadden dulcimers is over 28". That is quite a stretch even for experienced players at times especially if you are playing finger-style. Most players I know tend to play more of the traditional style with wooden "noters" or strum chords.

I would also suggest you check into Folkcraft Instruments. Their dulcimers can be obtained with a 25" scale. Much better in my opinion when you want to stretch across several frets at a time. Price falls in line with the McSpaddens. You can also spec out a custom dulcimer and spend as much as you want. I bought a teardrop shape (my favorite shape) not long ago. Walnut with a butternut top. It is a beautiful instrument.
Another option would be a custom builder. You should check out my fellow North Caroliner?, Tom Fellenbaum (Fellenbaum Stringed Instruments. His brick and mortar shop in Black Mountain is Acoustic Corner). Do a Google search for him. I have purchased several from him. If you live close, he will let you choose your woods in his shop...nice!

The most important bit of advise, even more than the 25" scale length......If you are a new player. Remember the name Stephen Seifert. You will learn more from him about playing the mountain dulcimer than any other person in my estimation. (the Hendrix, Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughn of the dulcimer all rolled into one). Check out his website. I learned to play by purchasing his CD based lessons. He takes one song or piece of music and disecets it note by note. He teaches you to play it gradually. Each step building on another.

Good luck in your dulcimer journey. I am just beginning with the Irish Whistle. I like to play Celtic music on my dulcimer and one day I heard someone play Down by the Sally Gardens on the whistle. I got a whistle, learned to play the tune and recorded and mixed dulcimer and whistle on that tune. I am hooked for life on both instruments now!

Re: Mountain Dulcimer?

Posted: Thu Oct 18, 2012 3:34 am
by Tim2723
Hey Dan and welcome!

Great post! Stephen Seifert is pretty much the god of mountain dulcimer in my book, and a really great guy to boot! I also agree about Folkcraft instruments. Another great choice. I'm glad another player finally chimed in here.

Just for clarification, the OP was talking about finger picking the MD rather than finger dancing the fretboard, but your comments about VSL are well made and important. Scale length is a consideration. McSpaddens fit me well, but that's a good catch on your part.

Thanks for the post and welcome again!

Re: Mountain Dulcimer?

Posted: Thu Oct 18, 2012 10:25 pm
by DulcimerDan
Hi, Totally agree on Mr. Seifert. And do not think for one minute I was knocking the McSpaddens. There is something to be said about that longer scale length as well. Along with it comes seemingly less string tension. "Dem McSpaddens play like butter!!" Alas, life is full of compromises. :) (I think he should get one of each!)

Re: Mountain Dulcimer?

Posted: Fri Oct 19, 2012 7:29 pm
by robert schuler
I build mountain dulcimers and have gone from 24" to 30.25". but 26"is by far the best scale length for both finger and noter styles. The trouble with 28" is you will break alot of strings tuning DAD. And you are limited to very light gauge strings. If you want to learn more about the MD. check out FOTMD web site... Bob

Re: Mountain Dulcimer?

Posted: Sun Dec 16, 2012 11:45 pm
by zeeshan
There are several playing techniques. Some include picks, others are finger style. For all the simplicity of the MD there are a great many ways to play it. A whole study can be made on just the different ways to tune the instrument.
I did enjoy the ukulele, but have found that much of it's charm comes from the singer. I am not so great at the singing and prefer to listen to my instrument as I work out all the different sounds it can make. While I've gotten some interesting sounds out of the ukulele I've found many tabs and songs for it are better when you're playing as well as singing. Perhaps it's just my lack of ability though.

Re: Mountain Dulcimer?

Posted: Tue Dec 18, 2012 10:12 am
by Tim2723
Hi Zeeshan and welcome to the forum! Something seems to have gone wrong with your post and all you managed to do was copy a pair of quotes from earlier in the thread. Try posting again. We'd like to hear what you have to to say.