hammer dulcimer pro and cons on Brands

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Re: hammer dulcimer pro and cons on Brands

Postby ilacem » Sat Feb 25, 2012 11:03 pm

Got my new Rick Thum Professional last September after months of anticipation. I couldn't be happier. The clarity makes it fantastic for quick tunes and runs, but there is enough sustain (especially in the bass) to make it equally wonderful for slow stuff. Mine has walnut sides and maple bridges - and dampers. I love being able to actually hear what I'm playing in rowdy jam sessions - and being able to play so "discreetly" that even mountain dulcimers ask me to play louder! :D I enjoy playing in lots of different styles (from Bach to fiddle tunes to rags to blues to hymns) and this is definitely the most versatile instrument I've come in contact with!
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Re: hammer dulcimer pro and cons on Brands

Postby cboody » Mon Feb 27, 2012 1:38 am

No Sarah, it is not a sneaky way of saying I don't like your playing. How could I not like anything someone who sings "You Can't Keep Me From Singing" does?

Seriously, I've only heard you play in the midst of enough other dulcimers so that I'm not very sure what your instrument or playing sounds like (except on your album where it is very nice). As I recall the last time we were both trying to keep up with Kendra which is not recommended as a means to hear delicate playing. :D

I do have a good friend who plays a James Jones though, and she has changed hammers recently. I find I like the sound of her playing much better with the new hammers and I also like the James Jones sound better. That's what I was trying to imply!

Now...are you implying that my Rizzetta sounds like a piano??? :lol:

Chuck
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Re: hammer dulcimer pro and cons on Brands

Postby kattywompus » Sun Mar 04, 2012 2:20 am

"Pros and cons on Brands"

My absolute favorite Hammered Dulcimer brand is Dusty Strings, but I also own a lovely Master Works. Dusty Strings has the full, warm sound, visuals landmarks & layout that provide for playing ease in all kinds of lighting, plus the string spacing that I like. :D

Cordially,
Jennifer Ranger
Kattywompus String Band
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Re: hammer dulcimer pro and cons on Brands

Postby abbj2002 » Sun Mar 04, 2012 10:17 am

Thank you Jennifier,

this is what i was hoping for .Why people like certain brands (masterworks , and dusty stings)

I have done alot of reserch since i last posted and have ordered a Cloud Nine 16/16.

I ike the harp like tone.

thanks so much for your imput.

Abbj2002
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Re: hammer dulcimer pro and cons on Brands

Postby kattywompus » Sun Mar 04, 2012 7:00 pm

Oh, that sounds great! I've never had the pleasure of playing a Cloud Nine!
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Re: hammer dulcimer pro and cons on Brands

Postby cboody » Mon Mar 05, 2012 1:58 am

You'll enjoy the Cloud Nine. Michael makes a fine instrument.
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Re: hammer dulcimer pro and cons on Brands

Postby Martin » Wed Mar 07, 2012 11:57 am

I'm just one man with one opinion, but I'm going to be as diplomatic as I can.

I play a High Country Dulcimers instrument - a 17/17/7 made a little over 4 years ago. Mac has been building instruments for a little over 30 years or so, and it shows. I would never get rid of my HD. I've put in many, many hours of my dulcimers and it's really developed into a rich-sounding instrument.

My dream instrument is a Jerry Reed Smith, 5 octave with dampers. I'd love to find one used, but the problem is that folks that bought one never want to get rid of it, and when they do, it's usually more than what one cost new.

I love Masterworks, and if they ever come out with a monster, I'll try my best to get it. Masterworks has a terrific sounds, and I'm amazed at how consistent they sound. Of course, the Russell Cook Editions are super sweet and super-fun to play...especially with dampers.

I'm not a huge fan of Dusty Strings dulcimers. They have a "doinky" sound to my ears for some reason, and I'm not exactly blown away with the fit and finish of a DS. Never have been. They are too pricey, IMO. With that said, I DO like the sound of some of the older ones. For example, I like the way Ted Yoder's sounds in addition to Dan Landrum's, but this may be due to the years and years of playing that each instrument has had. And I can't sneeze towards them because the late, great Rich Mullins played one as well.

I'm also not a huge fan of anything with a laminate soundboard. All of the ones I've tried have sounded muddled with very little sustain.

I've never played a Cloud 9, and in all honesty, and I can't say that I remember playing a Rick Thum or T.K. O'brien. I think that I played a lower line Chris Foss that I wasn't terribly impressed with, but as Jerry Reed Smith told me one time, someone out there will love it, no matter how you think is sounds.

Just get out there and play anything and everything, and get something that sounds good to YOU.
Last edited by Martin on Thu Mar 08, 2012 11:11 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: hammer dulcimer pro and cons on Brands

Postby kattywompus » Wed Mar 07, 2012 12:49 pm

Hi Martin:

Although I generally prefer Dusty Strings, I actually do recognize what you mean by the "doinky" sound they sometimes have! I've often told my students that I feel lucky to have a couple of their older models because, to my ear, the sound was better about 15 years ago...don't know what the change was.

Cordially,
Jennifer
www.SoKattywompus.com
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Re: hammer dulcimer pro and cons on Brands

Postby Martin » Wed Mar 07, 2012 5:58 pm

kattywompus wrote:Hi Martin:

Although I generally prefer Dusty Strings, I actually do recognize what you mean by the "doinky" sound they sometimes have! I've often told my students that I feel lucky to have a couple of their older models because, to my ear, the sound was better about 15 years ago...don't know what the change was.

Cordially,
Jennifer
http://www.SoKattywompus.com


Oh, and Timothy Seamon's dulcimer is nice sounding as well! I don't know if it's been a change in design or simply an instrument that's been "played in" that's the difference.
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Re: hammer dulcimer pro and cons on Brands

Postby cboody » Fri Mar 09, 2012 1:40 am

It seems to me that DS instruments, and the Rizzetta/Blanton ones on which many are based, do take a considerable time to get played in. And they start a bit clunky and rather brazen in sound and become more mellow with time. There's been considerable discussion about "breaking in" dulcimers, and some folks have seriously suggested leaving the instrument in a room with a stereo turned up very loud. I prefer just playing the thing...

That said, I'm quite happy with the Blantons I play, and I note that when one of the two gets put aside for a bit it does need to get broken in again.
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Re: hammer dulcimer pro and cons on Brands

Postby hammerman » Sat Mar 10, 2012 11:35 pm

Thanks for mentioning the hammers. Many times what one thought was a dull instrument, can be turned around by trying other hammers. I had a woman who ordered a pair of hammers from me, and she wrote back an enthusiastic letter telling that she had bought a HD and a pair of hammers was included. She had played the thing for about a year before getting my hammers. She was astounded at the difference (in a good way :) , and thought that she just had not been playing it right. So - while trying a number of different instruments, you might want to try a number of different hammers too. Bob
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Re: hammer dulcimer pro and cons on Brands

Postby Heidi » Tue Mar 13, 2012 3:28 pm

I don't think anyone mentioned that most builders make several models and each model has its own sound which can be very different from other models in their line.

Then there is variation within the same model. Based on the instruments that I'm familiar with, non-custom dulcimers are much more predictable in sound than custom dulcimers, but not identical.

Now add in some variables: hammers; playing style; humidity and air pressure; room/environment; and whether the instrument has developed its voice yet... and there you have it... there is no magic answer. Aren't you glad you asked?

I have a Thum Lightweight (almost identical to the Profession model) and a Jones 3/16/18/8 with dampers. They are very different and all I can say is viva la difference!
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