With Christmas in the air, it’s time to think about gift ideas for the dulcimer player. Here are a few of my favorite gadgets and fun items for the “dulcimer player who has everything.” Of course, a new dulcimer would be nice; but there are many handy and useful accessories that the dulcimer player will appreciate. Here’s my “Top Eleven List”:
First, there’s a repair kit. Every dulcimer player needs one. This is a must item. The needle nose pliers are essential for changing strings — removing the wire strings from the pegs. Regular pliers are needed for cutting the wire strings. The screw drivers come in all sizes; I’ve use them , for example, to tighten a the pin in the peg. It’s good to know that you have a set or pliers without having to hunt throughout your house. Keep them in a “dulcimer tackle box.”
A string winder is useful for some types of dulcimers, such as this one. Greatly increases the speed and shortens the time needed to change strings.
A Snark tuner for about $15.00 from Amazon is a good choice. This one clips on the peg head of the dulcimer and the tuner can be turned in any position so that you can see what your are doing. Funny how my tuners disappear. So don’t worry whether or not your dulcimer player already has a tuner; they can use two or three of these.
Here’s a DiMarzio pickup. The stick-on pick-up attaches to a chord with input into an amplifier. No need for a built-in dulcimer pick-up with one of these.
Here are Herdim guitar picks. They are three-sided picks with a grip in the center. They come in different weights graded by color-yellow, red and blue. By far, these are the picks of choice of dulcimer players. They can be purchased on-line. I strongly recommend the dulcimer store at Prussia Valley Dulcimers. Again, you can never have too many picks. As you can see, mine are well used.
Here is the link to Prussia Valley Dulcimers: http://prussiavalley.com/
Here’s the ultimate dulcimer capo. A Walworth Capo. You adjust the capo to fit your dulcimer, then you simply clamp down on the fretboard to get the capo properly secured. No screwing the capo in place, no time-consuming adjustments, no rattly strings. Well worth it for about $50.00. Also available from Prussia Valley Dulcimers.
And, if your dulcimer player has every dulcimer accessory, get something else. I got these shakers as gifts for my dulcimer group one year; we always find a song to use shakers at gigs now. We discovered that a husband of one of our dulcimer players is an accomplished musician; he loved having the shakers to play at several of our performances.
Another related item is spoons. A percussion tone and rhythm instrument adds greatly to dulcimer music.
Here’s a fun novelty item which I doubt that your dulcimer player has. This is a guitar slide. Yes, you can play slide dulcimer and the result is some lovely Hawaiian music.
Dulcimer note cards. Everyone likes to get mail and a handwritten note is a treasure. These packs of dulcimer note cards are available for sale from the Lagniappe Dulcimer Society. Two packs of dulcimer related cards of five dulcimer fete themes are included for $14.00 plus shipping. Send a comment for specific details about how to order the note cards.
Lastly, give a penny whistle. The price of a penny whistle is about $7.00. Mine included a book and C.D. so it is a little more from Amazon. It’s time for your dulcimer player to branch out to a new instrument. Purchase a “D” whistle like this one.
And lastly–and this one is not on my “Top Eleven List”–is a chromatic adapted dulcimer. Don’t have money for another dulcimer? I took a cardboard dulcimer, yes this is a cardboard dulcimer, from Backyard Dulcimers, and added frets to make it chromatic. I put the dulcimer together from a kit. Now this kit-maker only sells rectangular body kits; but the same idea would work with one of these dulcimers.
Somewhere in all my files I have the nomogram which gives the mathematical equation and tells how to space the frets. I have seen several of these spacing charts on-line A local dulcimer builder, Jimmy Ray, added the extra frets for me. Unfortunately, I didn’t add the additional frets to the second octave. But it is fun to “doodle” around with chromatic songs on the lower octave.
So Christmas will arrive in five days. These presents are good any time of the year. Merry Christmas.