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Plane Ignerints
09-22-2015, 03:03 AM
So I was at my local Guitar Center yesterday fooling around with the concert ukes and was looking around other sections...both the dulcimer and lap steel guitar caught my eye...now I want them both for a band...anyone have any experience with these two instruments? I really liked the way the dulcimer felt...and you have to work really hard to play a "bad" note on the thing. The lap steel guitar looked like it would be fun to play, but it wasn't near anywhere I could plug it in and give it a go.

k0k0peli
09-22-2015, 03:50 AM
I possess both and alas, I do not play them nearly enough. Partly that's because I'm just not comfortable hunching (well, siting) over an instrument -- I like to sit back clutching a little lute, like an 'uke or mando or small guitar. I play my smaller mountain dulcimer occasionally because I *can* hold is close and chord it.

CV: mountain dulcimer was my first stringed instrument over a half-century ago. I built and sold MDs for a while. I plan to build more -- but not for playing with a noter and plume in my lap. I am totally sold on strumstick-style playing.

My lap steel is a late-1940s heavy sandcast aluminum Aloha with case and amp, made in Hawai'i, that I bought decades ago for about US$25. If I read the listings right it could now be worth up to US$1000. I may sell it sometime soon because I just have not played it since forever.

That said, some folks love these instruments, love the playing positions, love the way they interact to make music. Dulcimer and HSG (Hawai'ian steel guitar) sites exist. Taropatch.Net (http://Taropatch.Net) covers HSGs as well as Taropatch 'ukes and other Hawai'ian music. EverythingDulcimer.Com (http://EverythingDulcimer.Com) covers MDs as well as bowed and hammered dulcimers. FotMD.Com (http://Fotmd.Com) (Friends of the Mountain Dulcimer) specializes in, guess what? ;)

Both MD and HSG / lap steel guitar differ greatly from 'ukes, mandos, guitars, banjos, etc both in playing position and tunings. Lap steel means holding a slide and tuning open. Dulcimer can be played on lap or held, in drone modal tunings (many of them!) or chordable tunings. You *can* have lots of fun with both, and they'll point you toward different approaches to music.

Plane Ignerints
09-22-2015, 05:28 AM
Thank you very much for the info and links. I'm still trying to piece together a concept band (my original idea as a kid was a 3 piece band consisting of a banjo, a trombone, and a kazoo but I've drifted away from that idea).

k0k0peli
09-22-2015, 03:48 PM
Thank you very much for the info and links. I'm still trying to piece together a concept band (my original idea as a kid was a 3 piece band consisting of a banjo, a trombone, and a kazoo but I've drifted away from that idea). Lap steel, tenor 'uke, and kazoo should fly well too. Or mountain dulcimer, banjo, and... kazoo? ;) But the trombone has to go. I gave away mine for a good cause. Good, 'cause the neighbors didn't kill me.

PhilUSAFRet
11-09-2015, 03:23 PM
There are some dulcimer builders out there putting together dulcimers that will sound like a lap steel when plugged into a decent amp. Lots of tutorials on youtube also. Building a solid bodied dulcimer with a magnetic pickup not rocket science. Lots of resources on cigarboxnation.com re: building non-traditional instruments of all kinds.