Creek Dulcimer

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Is it worth it to get a more inexpensive Appalachian Dulcimer (like Applecreek ACD100) just to learn on?

Or is it not worth the money and time? I just want one that'll last for at least a little while and that'll sound nice, like an Appalachian Dulcimer should sound.

The Applecreek aren't all that bad. A mountain dulcimer is supposed to be an inexpensive instrument anyway - it's part of the history. It's especially worth it if you can find one in the $50-75ish range ( http://www.musiciansfriend.com/folk-traditional-instruments/apple-creek-dulcimer ) and not so much if you have to go over $100. These models vary in price an awful lot depending on where you get it. In stock at a local music store is usually the highest.

It's a basic teardrop 4-string (2-1-1) in ply with a standard diatonic (with no 6 1/2) full-size fretboard and the fretboard is high enough that you can play it noter style easily. It's reasonably in tune and the mechanicals hold tuning pretty decently. You'll want to buy a new set of strings right away though - it comes with a pretty tinny sounding set. [D'addario makes a really nice set that handles frequent retuning well]

About that 6 1/2 fret: Oldtime dulcimers didn't have one and were tuned in a I V V (DAA) pattern for playing in both mixolydian (flat 7) on the open string and ionian (natural 7) on the third fret on the melody pair while the other two strings drone. This is fine for "noter and drone" and "finger dancing" styles. But, with the advent of chording style playing in the 70's - an extra fret was added between 6 and 7 and the strings were tuned up to I V I (DAD) to make chord accompaniment easier. If you want to play old style like it was intended - this model is fine. If you want to play it like a guitar (chord strumming) then you'll want more frets. You might want to lower the action on this model to play it chord style or finger picking though - it's a little high for that. Noter n Drone it's perfect.

As for "last a little while" - these should last 100 years plus if you don't abuse it. Ply has a strength advantage over solid wood as well as cost. The disadvantage is tone - solid wood tends to sound a lot better than ply. But you pay a lot for solid and most instruments (such as guitars) at this level are also plywood topped and backed.

Know what you want to play before you buy one so you get the right setup:

Noter n Drone for basic oldtime and folk tunes - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FXE_E3DRCuA [this model works fine is looks designed for this style]

Finger Dancing for mostly melody playing - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rZWZ7KpB5Zg&feature=related [this model works ok - 6 1/2 and more frets are nice but not essential and you'll want your strings lower - you might even prefer a lower fretboard.]

Chord Style for playing melodies and chordal accompaniments - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FGQuVVEnqDU [the 6 1/2 is almost essential for this style so you'll be annoyed with this model fast though it works for learning initially]

Galax Style - a particular form of truly old-school dulcimer playing. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hrIBjalKsnw [this style will tear up that Applecreek pretty quickly, it's very rough and requires a particularly solid and BIG dulcimer. Some people love it - some can't stand it. Matter of taste.]

Full Chromatic - some of us wonder why not just buy a guitar but some folks like it. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KbzKO2uFz60 [this Applecreek is NOT chromatic]

All of that said, the Applecreek is a pretty decent way to see what you like and want in a dulcimer before sinking serious money into one like a Folkcraft or McSpadden or even a custom-made.

Discover Creek Dulcimer On eBay Below:



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