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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Aargh! Website down, blog & email up

Last time we checked, (yesterday) it was up there and working fine-- now it's down, along with many other websites served by our host, a local ISP in Athens, Ohio.

Our email's still available ( or Best case: everything is OK by lunchtime... worst case: fried hardware and reconstituted websites.

Meanwhile, Jerry's music is also at iTunes, MySpace, Jango, YouTube, and FolkAlley. Several articles are posted online at Dirty Linen Magazine and EveryThing Dulcimer. You can also visit him on Facebook.

I'm working on fulfilling current book and CD orders that were placed through July 25 from our website.

--from the guest blogger, Mary

Monday, July 26, 2010

Refreshing My Blog - Hooking Up Everything

Well, slowly but surely I seem to be making some progress in getting all of my online profiles and presences hooked up and working. With any luck, you should be seeing my new ReverbNation "store widget" where you can buy downloads directly from me.

I'm also slowly but surely updating my old, dusty web site. Mary and I first got that site working in 1997, and some of the pages are exactly the same as they were then! Some of the articles have been very popular over the years, and I'd like to write some more like these to keep things fresh. If you have any specific questions, please let me know so I can blog about them and consider them for the web site.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

String Gauges for Mountain Dulcimer

Probably the most frequently asked question I get from my web site readers has to do with what strings I use on my dulcimers. I always tell people right from the start that I'm only giving my personal preferences, and that they should not take these to be any sort of standard or default. String gauge preference is a very subjective thing.

Most of the basic bare-bones dulcimers I'm working on now have either 25" or 26" VSLs (Vibrating String Length - nut to bridge). Since I'm setting up the instruments to be tuned DAD, I choose gauges that work pretty well for that specific tuning, although tunings that are close - like DGD, or DAC - should work fine too. If I want to spend a bunch of time playing in DAA, I will use a heavier, thicker gauge for the melody string.

Here are my preferences:

bass: .024"W
middle: .015"
melody: .012"

I usually prefer a nickel-wrap string for the bass. This is purely preference, and many other players and builders like phosphor bronze or some bronze/brass combination.

Keep in mind that the dulcimer tends to be a pretty delicate, gentle kind of instrument (my dulcimers are not known for their volume), and the string tension on a mountain dulcimer is much less than it is on a guitar, for instance. Now, if you want more volume and punch, feel free to try thicker gauges, which will make your strings feel tighter, and they will be a little harder to press down to the frets -- making it seem like you have a slightly higher string action. Experimenting with string gauge is one of the healthiest activities I can think of -- be brave!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Refreshing My Blog

After many, many false starts and abandoned blogs, I am back in the saddle again. I will make a concerted effort to post little paragraphs often.