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Walmart Dulcimer????

snarky 28 Aug 05 - 07:07 PM
The Fooles Troupe 28 Aug 05 - 07:37 PM
GUEST,leeneia 28 Aug 05 - 09:10 PM
katlaughing 28 Aug 05 - 09:31 PM
Mudlark 28 Aug 05 - 11:20 PM
Malcolm Douglas 28 Aug 05 - 11:36 PM
GUEST 28 Aug 05 - 11:47 PM
NH Dave 29 Aug 05 - 12:36 AM
LilyFestre 29 Aug 05 - 09:23 AM
number 6 29 Aug 05 - 12:30 PM
JohnInKansas 29 Aug 05 - 01:23 PM
Kaleea 29 Aug 05 - 03:16 PM
GUEST,leeneia 29 Aug 05 - 04:37 PM
radriano 29 Aug 05 - 07:34 PM
GUEST,Art Thieme 29 Aug 05 - 08:21 PM
Arkie 29 Aug 05 - 09:38 PM
Willie-O 29 Aug 05 - 10:00 PM
number 6 29 Aug 05 - 10:05 PM
JohnInKansas 30 Aug 05 - 03:35 AM
GUEST,crazy little woman 30 Aug 05 - 10:48 AM
KateG 30 Aug 05 - 03:18 PM
JohnInKansas 30 Aug 05 - 04:09 PM
Jon W. 30 Nov 05 - 11:54 AM
Pauline L 01 Dec 05 - 01:25 AM
GUEST 02 Dec 05 - 12:13 AM
The Fooles Troupe 02 Dec 05 - 06:46 AM
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Subject: Walmart Dulcimer????
From: snarky
Date: 28 Aug 05 - 07:07 PM

Walmart sells a mountain dulcimer in my town now! It is $79.83 and is a four string, hourglass, plywood, four heart shape. It comse with a gigbag, pitchpipe, noter, pick, instrument strap, and a DVD explaining the basics of mando, banjo, (also sold at Walmart)and the mountain dulcimer!

I'm having trouble getting my mind around this concept but then it would be natural since Walmart began in Arkansas....

Anyway, I bought one, hoping it would be like a Silvertone or Stella guitar, or a Harmony banjo in a few decades!

Not sure how true it is on the fretboard, not being a dulcimer player much anymore and the action is a tad high. Anyone care to comment?
snarky


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Subject: RE: Walmart Dulcimer????
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 28 Aug 05 - 07:37 PM

Suspect at that price is it made in China. Doesn't mean it that it is no good though - some of those cheap instruments turn out at the high end of the bell curve and are pretty good.


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Subject: RE: Walmart Dulcimer????
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 28 Aug 05 - 09:10 PM

I got years of pleasure from a dulcimer made from a kit which probably cost under $30. $79.83 sounds expensive in comparison. Anyhow, an imperfect instrument which you play and enjoy is worth far more than an expensive instrument which collects dust.


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Subject: RE: Walmart Dulcimer????
From: katlaughing
Date: 28 Aug 05 - 09:31 PM

I have a beautiful, well-toned Black Mountain dulcimer from Elderly Instruments, which was just over $120...I consider it worth it, to not only get hand-made of good quality, but also to support independent luthiers.

Black Mountain also sells kits and less-expensive models.

kat


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Subject: RE: Walmart Dulcimer????
From: Mudlark
Date: 28 Aug 05 - 11:20 PM

If you enjoy playing it, that's all that matters. And think what good calluses you'll get from that high action! Usually, if fret placement off, it gets worse the higher the tone...if you play within the first 5-7 frets it will probably be ok anyway, and 4 strings is a bonus. Try tuning the inside melody string of the pair to the center string...gives a nice sort of jazzy sound.


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Subject: RE: Walmart Dulcimer????
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 28 Aug 05 - 11:36 PM

You can easily lower the action if you feel the need; and you don't need to play modern finger-style unless you particularly want to. Use a noter and avoid those callouses (any inaccuracy of intonation will matter less, as well). $80 is dirt cheap for a functional stringed instrument, but so is $120 if it comes to that.

Does it sound ok?


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Subject: RE: Walmart Dulcimer????
From: GUEST
Date: 28 Aug 05 - 11:47 PM

Love, cherish and enjoy your WalMart introduction dulcimer- when you have MASTERED it....move on.

One of my most cherished stories about the honored Segovia is the night he performed an equisite piece and then smashed the guitar across the stage - the audience was stupified - Andre then explained that it was the more the musician than the instrument - what he had just smashed was a 15 dollar (1960) dime-store fabrication he had purchased that afternoon.....critics had complained that the quality of his tone came from a VERY expensive instrument and not from the genius of A.S.

Look - you must begin somewhere - I cherish my cracked, wooden 10 dollar (1960) recorder - but through its foundation I am still attempting to master nuances of an Andes Flute. (1100-2000)


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Subject: RE: Walmart Dulcimer????
From: NH Dave
Date: 29 Aug 05 - 12:36 AM

I bought three old five string banjos for $ 15.00 once, and they all turned out to be real antiques, well known banjos, and played well. You might want to contact the Paton's at Folk Legacy and see if they still have copies of Howie Mitchel's book on the Appalachian Dulcimer.

Dave


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Subject: RE: Walmart Dulcimer????
From: LilyFestre
Date: 29 Aug 05 - 09:23 AM

I agree with the majority of the posters here. Play your dulcimer, enjoy it and when you are ready for a higher quality sound/instrument, then move on up! That's exactly what I did with my violin. I rented one for $25.00 a month to make sure I really was going to play it, then got a little better quality one from eBay and after about a year, I went to a real violin shoppe and got a quality instrument with wonderful tone. I wouldn't do it any other way!!!

No matter what, have fun and enjoy yourself!!!

Michelle


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Subject: RE: Walmart Dulcimer????
From: number 6
Date: 29 Aug 05 - 12:30 PM

Don't worry about the Walmart stigma ... I hear Gibson will be selling their products through Walmart.

A lot of these offshore instruments are of excellent playing quality these days ... actually they are very, very impressive. With this being said some of the high end domestic brands are actually quite disappointing.

Bottom line .... I read an interview with Pat Metheny a while back ... one question was regarding lower end guitars .. he replied something along the line "all guitars sound good, it just matters on how they are setup".

sIx


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Subject: RE: Walmart Dulcimer????
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 29 Aug 05 - 01:23 PM

I've noticed that my area Sam's Club has had a $150 Clarinet and a $350 Alto Saxophone on display recently. (About what I paid for good quality name-brand instruments ca 1956.) I haven't looked at them closely enough to tell how well they're made, but from a distance they look comparable the "student grade" stuff at the local music shops. One of the Walmart shops here recently had a fairly decent looking guitar and a reasonably complete drum (trap) set.

I'd be a bit worried about the trap set. It looked like a full size - not a kid toy, but my son destroyed two or three top quality sets in his brief career. A trap set faces a very though, and usually brief, life in a teenage rock garage band. (How do you break a Zildjian cymbal? I tried to drill a "crack stop" hole in one and burned up three tungsten carbide bits without getting through it.)

For those not familiar, Sam's Club is a "membership store" specializing in bulk quantity stuff, patronized by a lot of business who resell the stuff - especially restaurants. Good place for bulk groceries if you've got storage space, although the selection is a bit limited. It's a Walmart associated store. Similar to Costco in other parts of the country (US).

John


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Subject: RE: Walmart Dulcimer????
From: Kaleea
Date: 29 Aug 05 - 03:16 PM

God help us all if alleged Gibson products now come from Wallyworld.

      Wallyworld--it's the new Sears & Roebuck


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Subject: RE: Walmart Dulcimer????
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 29 Aug 05 - 04:37 PM

I wonder why Mudlark said something about high action.

The strings of a mountain dulcimer should be pretty close to the frets. In a dulcimer club I was told that the thickness a five-cent piece is a good distance. (The strings of my McSpadden are a little closer at the low end, somewhat higher at the high end.)

Once someone showed me a homemade dulcimer with the strings 1/4 inch above the fretboard. It was miserable to play, and the family agreed to have it adjusted.


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Subject: RE: Walmart Dulcimer????
From: radriano
Date: 29 Aug 05 - 07:34 PM

Could be that people that buy musical instruments from WalMart are the same people that use four question marks where one is enough.


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Subject: RE: Walmart Dulcimer????
From: GUEST,Art Thieme
Date: 29 Aug 05 - 08:21 PM

If it sounds decent and the intonation is right, just enjoy the hell out of it. I made a decent dulcimer by fitting a neck fretted with regular staples onto a Star Wars lunch box. I added a 3-tuner strip of geared tuners from an old guitar and three strings. That DULCIMER amazed kids for over 20 years of schools programs and workshops----especially when I stuck a contact pickup on it and plugged it into my P.A. system direct. My electric Star Wars lunch box dulcimer was a hit.

And never doubt that a low-priced dulcimer can be just fine for all normal purposes----and a few paranormal ones as well! There never was a dulcimer that was worth the absolutely INSANE prices some people get for them now simply because they put a polyurethane shine finish on it.

Go for it!!! And don't listen to the naysayers!

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: Walmart Dulcimer????
From: Arkie
Date: 29 Aug 05 - 09:38 PM

The critical issue would be the height of the strings and the accuracy of the fretting.   If strings are too high, not only is the instrument difficult to note, but the notes could also be a little off pitch when pressed to the fretboard.   This is a relatively simple thing to correct.   With the woodworking technology available today there is no reason why the frets should not be accurate.   That was most likely to occur when each slot was marked and sawed individually. I worked with some friends making dulcimers at one time and we experimented by placing fretboards on cardboard boxes, dulcimer cases, and table tops and got reasonably good sound each time.   So Wal-Mart is taking the obscure little dulcimer to the people. Enjoy!!!!


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Subject: RE: Walmart Dulcimer????
From: Willie-O
Date: 29 Aug 05 - 10:00 PM

The HELL with WalMart and their crappy stuff, and corporate megalomania. Get a dulcimer ANYwhere else. Go to a pawnshop or music store and tell them you could have got this thing for $80 at Walmart, use it as a dickering point but that's it.

Best of all, yard sale,moving sale or something...most dulcimers spend their lives hanging on walls, liberate one!

W-O


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Subject: RE: Walmart Dulcimer????
From: number 6
Date: 29 Aug 05 - 10:05 PM

Good point Willie ... in fact I saw a used mountain dulcimer hanging on the wall at music store here a couple of weeks ago ... $100 ... with a few minor adjustments it would sound pretty good.

sIx


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Subject: RE: Walmart Dulcimer????
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 30 Aug 05 - 03:35 AM

With a good table saw or radial arm saw, a couple of hunks of wood, and a bit of imagination, anyone who really wants to should be able to make a "serviceable" and very conventional mountain dulcimer. The basic design is well known and widely published. An old steam iron on cotton setting is plenty hot enough to bend 1/8" thick wood strips if you want to do the curved sides. An Xacto knife will do for soundholes, although a small coping saw or a jigsaw makes it easier. A router helps, but isn't necessary.

You can also get kits from several places that have parts mostly precut and rough shaped - with $150 (US) about a typical price, some more some less. For the two that I put together from kits, it took about twice as long to build the box to carry them around as it did to assemble and finish the instruments. Assembly of the instruments took a bit longer than necessary due to "her" insistence that the "heads" be handcarved with mythic motifs. (Walnut is not a good choice for inexperienced carvers to practice and learn on.)

The "special features" incorporated into some of the better instruments should not be denigrated though. The basic instrument produces a pretty consistent tone and volume, but some of the "developed" commercial models really do provide quite a lot more. The details that really make the difference often aren't obvious - but they are NOT just the fancy wood and the poly shine. The really good builders do the woods and finishes because they have to be able to sell the d... things but the features that make the good ones good don't get much knowledgeable discussion - even when they're trying to sell you one.

One that I built "from scratch" incorporating a few personal whims produced a significantly better tone and volume than either of the kits. It was somewhat "spoiled" by a poor choice of fretboard material - teak creeps under load and it didn't stay straight. It still sounds better than the kit dulcies, but is a little harder to play since the string height varies (now) depending on which note you're fretting. (Not just a "bow," it's a "ripple.") The effects of "design changes" I made are obtained by other means by a couple of good makers that I know of, differently in each case.

Most $100 dulcies you'll find in the hock shops in my area are worth about $40, but there are exceptions. The problem is that, as with any bargain instrument, you have to know what to look for to know when you've found one that really is a bargain. Based on past experience with "Chinese Plywood" the Walmart job may be a pretty good deal for anyone who wants a "first experience" with playing one. As I haven't tried one of them yet, I can't guarantee that's the case; but the mando and bass I've had are credible instruments. My $150 no-name Chinese mando plays easier than my $1300 US made one, and sounds better. It just isn't quite as "loud" when you really "twank" on it.

John


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Subject: RE: Walmart Dulcimer????
From: GUEST,crazy little woman
Date: 30 Aug 05 - 10:48 AM


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Subject: RE: Walmart Dulcimer????
From: KateG
Date: 30 Aug 05 - 03:18 PM

These babies were discussed on the Sweet Music dulcimer list a while ago. I seem to remember that the consensus was generally positive, on the basis that anything that got people making their own music was a Good Thing, and that there was a place in this world for starter instruments. That said, there was also hope that the purchasers would be drawn to their local dulcimer club to learn more about the instrument and set the stage for moving up to a better instrument.

I started on a plywood dulcimer with a mile high action, and it sufficed for a while. But the problems in intonation in the upper octave drove me mad as soon as my ear came out of its thirty year retirement, and the action made chord-melody playing a real challenge. However, it did teach me enough that when I went to buy my McSpadden, I could play well enough to make an informed choice. And the change in instrument quality gave a real boost to my playing -- suddenly I could do the things I had been grappling with.

The old plywood "cheap & cheerful" now lives in a closet and comes out once a year for our clubs annual dulcimerfest, where it serves as a loaner instrument for people wanting to get their feet wet musically.


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Subject: RE: Walmart Dulcimer????
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 30 Aug 05 - 04:09 PM

Lin gave her original "kit" dulcimer to a friend who expressed an interest and lived too far away for efficient borrowmanship. She's moved up to one of the high-class ones, a McSpadden I think. We still take the other kit and the scratch one with us just about everywhere we camp, and they always get used. Lin has made "dulcimists" of a number of people who now play much more seriously than she does.

I'm still impressed that at the 2002 WVA Fest she impressed the father of twins so much that he went down to the grandstand and bought TWO McSPADDENS, with complete accessories, for the girls. The girls did show interest and some ability before he laid out the cash, but .$.$.$. that's a goodly lot of interest.

Every lap dulcimist needs at least two. Spreading the word is a mandate if you're gonna be one of 'em, and getting people to try it is the best way to get the message to them.

John


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Subject: RE: Walmart Dulcimer????
From: Jon W.
Date: 30 Nov 05 - 11:54 AM

A decent guitar repairman should be able to adjust the action on a dulcimer no matter if it was made in China or in the '70s. If you can't find one willing to do it, you might check your area to see if there is a luthier's club. I belong to one, and we've been known to take in people's instruments and work on them for free to demonstrate the methods. For instance, I volunteered to a neighbor to adjust the action on his '70s Japanese-made banjo. I took it to our meeting and we all got a good laugh out of the lopsided glued on nameplate ("Aquarius") and the cheesy truss rod cover that covered nothing, but by the end of the evening I'd learned a valuable trick for adjusting the action at the nuts (how to gauge when the slots are deep enough without filing them too deep). And my neighbor had playable banjo.


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Subject: RE: Walmart Dulcimer????
From: Pauline L
Date: 01 Dec 05 - 01:25 AM

I did some research on buying a dulcimer from Walmart online. At first I couldn't find it, but that was because I looked under 'dulcimer.' It was listed under 'guitar.' I also searched for banjo, ukulele, violin, and fiddle at Walmart, Costco, and Sam's Club, but I didn't find any. Of course, there are 'musical instrument' categories on Amazon.com and ebay. I remember reading that Sears sold some decent violins during the 30s. If I remember correctly, Maybelle Carter bought an autoharp from Sears. Is this true? Anyway, I don't think I could face Big Mick the Union Organizer or my own conscience if I bought a dulcimer from Walmart.


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Subject: RE: Walmart Dulcimer????
From: GUEST
Date: 02 Dec 05 - 12:13 AM

Why not? You would be helping to employ otherwise very poor people.


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Subject: RE: Walmart Dulcimer????
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 02 Dec 05 - 06:46 AM

For paltry cents an hour to make crap from rubbish materials that they will get no profit out of when sold at ridiculous prices. Not to count the waste of resources to lug this poorly made crap all around the world.


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