So I am thinking of making a batch of dulcimers later in the month, and have just hit on the idea of using only the blues notes, so including only these frets:

3
5
7
10
12-octave

Anyone ever done this and how was it to play? I ain't no bluesman, but I thought playing on this would train my ear and then the transition to slide would be nice and easy. Like training wheels.

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Don't see any real problem with the idea. I'd just go for a heavier gauge of string than in a dulcitar, strings 3,4,and 5 from a set of 12 gauge will probably be close enough. As for the ear training, I'd listen to lots of acoustic blues. I love the early Delta stuff myself, can't get enough of it. Best wishes.
Diane,
If you look at my page you'll see that all my CBG's AND DB's are actually dulcimer freted , or fret marked.I use a slide on all and it works great.
I am trying to sort this one out. It seems to me that the dulcimer scale frets are in a different position than guitar frets and that the 3-5-7-10-12 positioning is based on guitar. If this is correct its still possible to do the blues positioning but it will have to be set up to be equivalent to guitar NOT dulcimer. I have no experience with playing this but have read quite a bit about this and printed out equivalent VSL scale lengths for multiple instruments and studied the difference. I think this is a VERY important question to clear up so that we aren't building some odd thing thinking its going to be a blues short cut. I really hope that there will be some replies to this. I need help sorting it out before I fret the next couple that are just about ready for frets now. HELP !
( I understand that some frets are the same - but the blues frets do not coincide)
My thinking is that if your 3-string is tuned in fifths, and you only have the 3 5 7 10 and 12 frets, on the top and bottom strings you'll have the blues scale and on the middle string you'll have the equivalent of these frets on the higher and lower strings: 7th fret (open), 10th fret (3rd fret), 12th fret (5th fret). So if you play in mostly "first position" you'll be good to play them blues. If you move up the neck, it all falls apart, so just stick with high and low strings when grooving along up there.

And if it is a train wreck, I'll just put in the missing frets and chalk one up to experience. No loss!
Ok - I just laid out (with paper tags and tape) a dual scale -based on my six string 25.5 guitar and my 25.5 inch scale dulcimer fretted 3 string. The # 3 fret is missing on the dulcimer scale - the number 5 blues is equivalent to the number 3 dulcimer - the number 7 blues is equal to the 4 dulcimer - six dulcimer = 10 blues and 8 dulcimer = 12 blues -=
I just laid the dulcimer fretted 3 string on the six string factory (same VSL) and made the comparison.
I am still lost on this - I think the blues scale is based on chromatic and the dulcimer is diatonic ?? Anyway # 3 blues is definitely missing and the rest are numbered differently if my thinking is right - Thanks for the reply !!
It is easier for me to understand if I compare everything to a chromatic scale - all notes including sharps and flats.

I am simply going to use the chromatic frets that will give me a blues scale: 3 5 7 10 12. I will leave the other ones off.

I have no idea how that will sound or work. I will have to do it to find out.

If I was doing a standard dulcimer, I would only use the chromatic frets that give me a diatonic (standard major) scale: 2 4 5 7 9 11 12 I would leave the other ones off.

Bill Ludeman said:
Ok - I just laid out (with paper tags and tape) a dual scale -based on my six string 25.5 guitar and my 25.5 inch scale dulcimer fretted 3 string. The # 3 fret is missing on the dulcimer scale - the number 5 blues is equivalent to the number 3 dulcimer - the number 7 blues is equal to the 4 dulcimer - six dulcimer = 10 blues and 8 dulcimer = 12 blues -=
I just laid the dulcimer fretted 3 string on the six string factory (same VSL) and made the comparison.
I am still lost on this - I think the blues scale is based on chromatic and the dulcimer is diatonic ?? Anyway # 3 blues is definitely missing and the rest are numbered differently if my thinking is right - Thanks for the reply !!
Your frets now are really for the minor chromatic scale -- the stock minor blues scale would include the sixth fret (sharp 4 / flat 5). You could probably get away without it, or plan to bend the fifth fret note (or slide) to get it.

Note as well that many blues folks play a flatter-than-chromatic minor third: your layout doesn't leave you the major second to bend up for that, which means you would need to play slide to intone that note.
Okay, I'll add #6! So we're at 3 5 6 7 10 12


Tres Seaver said:
Your frets now are really for the minor chromatic scale -- the stock minor blues scale would include the sixth fret (sharp 4 / flat 5). You could probably get away without it, or plan to bend the fifth fret note (or slide) to get it.

Note as well that many blues folks play a flatter-than-chromatic minor third: your layout doesn't leave you the major second to bend up for that, which means you would need to play slide to intone that note.
Theses are exactly the questions that have been going around in my head? I hope that this is possible!
I love the idea of the dulcitar but not the music they make.
http://www.sksmithmusic.com/virtual_classroom/dulcimerblues.html
A site on the web discussing blues on dulcimer, maybe it can help.
part 2
http://sksmithmusic.com/virtual_classroom/blues_2.html
how come no one is playing like this in the dulcimer videos?
I build two blues-cimers. They play great!

Andy said:
part 2

http://sksmithmusic.com/virtual_classroom/blues_2.html

how come no one is playing like this in the dulcimer videos?

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