Summertime, and the living is easy, and always a great time to start learning a new hobby. There are a lot of folks out there who have always wanted to learn a musical instrument, but have thought themselves musically inept, or have just never gotten the drive to finally sit down and do it. This thread is specifically for goons who want to get a little off the beaten path and play something unique. Fortunately, what with the internet these days, weird instruments don't have to be expensive, or stick you with a complicated and uninformed learning process. In this thread we'll help even totally non-musical goons find and learn an instrument that will stand out from the crowd, and link you into some of music's overlooked traditions rather than keep you in the regular crew of three-chord dorm room guitar hacks.
Nothing against guitar, but for that there's a running NMD:ML discussion to go to, and if you're wanting ukulele check out our long-lived A/T thread.
I'll start out with a few instruments that are inexpensive (under $50 for winds, under $150 for strings), supported by online instruction, and easy to start sounding good on. EDIT: Overall thread advice: if you like a given instrument, do not just go on eBay and buy the first "ReAlLy AWESOME XYZ instrument! L@@K!!! No Rsrv!" you see. For most of these, you can overspend on a lovely one, or ask just a few questions and find a good deal on a good starter instrument, so please do yourself a favour and don't just buy blind.
EDIT: Running table of contents (tinwhistle and ocarina come up on every page)
Pg 1: Ocarina, tinwhistle, kantele, dulcimer, sitar, concert zither, melodica, glass harmonica, ruler, mandolin, Irish bagpipes, shamisen, necked dulcimers, mandora/bouzouki, cuatro
Pg 2: Swedish bagpipes, tiple/tres, didjeridoo, autoharp, ocarina, steel-pan drum, mountain dulcimer, double flute, bowed psaltery, alpenhorn, dungchen, hosaphone, serpent, theremin, accordions/concertinas/bandoneones/chemnitzers, Hardanger fiddle, hurdy-gurdy, erhu
Pg 3: cardboard dulcimer, Celtic harp, mbira/kalimba/thumb-piano, bowed lyres (crwth, jouhikko), serpent, Native American flute, crummhorn/kelhorn, oud, nyckelharpa, toy accordion
Pg 4: autoharp, balalaika, udu, Native American flute, euphonium/sousaphone, harmonia, kantele, berimbau, resonator/slide/Hawaiian guitar, Irish flute, band-flute, low whistle, jug, Hang drum, hurdy-gurdy, electric kazoo, stick dulcimer
Pg 5: Appalachian dulcimer, bodhran, bones, banjola, NAF, kalimba, Hapi drum, French/tango accordions/concertinas, ukulele, autoharp, dilruba, mandolin, bowed psaltery
Pg 6: fife, berimbau, dulcimer, kantele, harmonium, toy accordion
Pg 7: accordions, banjo, dizi (Chinese flute), tinwhistle, bodhran, mandolin, balalaika, hammered dulcimer, ophicleide, Stylophone, quena, toy piano, NAF
Pg 8: baglama, washboard, washtub bass, didjeribone, autoharp, didjflute, bandoneon, gadulka
Pg 9: cigar-box guitar, diddley bow, propellerhead ReBirth app, Korg Kaossilator, primitive clarinets, Casio Digisax, Yamaha WX7 controller, Chapman stick, jawharp, mouthbox, xaphoon
Pg 10: pibgorn, alboka, PVC flute, taishogoto, panpipes, sanshin, bansuri, clavinet, dolceola, melodica, ichigenkin, buffalo drum, Northumbrian smallpipes, bamboo flute, duet concertina
Pg 11: bongos, concertina, lap steel guitar, kuai ban, sanshin, subu, lap steel guitar, mandocello, Scottish smallpipe, musical saw
Pg 12: keytar, sape, accordion, electric upright bass, guitar-veena, shamisen, chromatic harmonia, miniature harmonicas, accordina, recorder
Pg 13: ocarina, valiha, lubuw, overtone flute, dombura, violin, NAF, harp guitar, harp ukulele, English concertina
Pg 14: Suzuki Omnichord (electronic autoharp), guzheng, lap steel guitar, recorder, Celtic harp, bansuri, theremin, ClearTune app, qin, fiπla, analog synthesizer gadgets
Pg 15: Scottish smallpipes, wooden flute, Tibetan instruments, cardboard dulcimer, cardboard harp, gadulka, Anglo concertina, small flutes, alternative keyboards, MIDI wind controllers, dumbek, djembe
Pg 16: early harps, MIDI wind controllers, electric violin, octave mandolin, guqin, Siberian board zithers, santur, Shruthi-1 synth, lyres (Hebrew, Greek, Anglo-Saxon/Germanic), didgeridoo, tinwhistle, low whistle, ocarina, fife and drum blues, thumb piano/kalimba, harmonica
Pg 17: harp, keyboard, NAF, Croatian instruments, gusle, clawhammer banjo, Cajun accordion, ocarina, PaIa Theremax theremin
Pg 18: theremin, lute, kantele, cittern and Portuguese guitar, lyre, piano accordion, duduk (and shvi and blul), melodica, Bowafridgeaphone, waterphone, clavichord, toy accordion, electronic toys (Ningen Gakki), cigar box guitar, Anglo concertina, ocarina, lutes
Pg 19: Cittern, waldzither, stylophone, Korg Monotron, Arab frame drums, Anglo concertina, singing with Cajun accordion, Chemnitzer concertina, banjo ukulele, cigar-box drum, ocarina duets, cigar box guitar, Pbone (plastic trombone), travel ukulele, Shape Note singing, lever harp, Anglo-Saxon lyre, African-American fife, Vietnamese guitar (luc huyen cam)
Pg 20: Viking panpipes, strumsticks, lyre and gusle, kantele, fife and band flute, shakuhachi, gemshorn, Russian garmon, Linnstrument, bajo sexto/quinto, Croatian brač, overtone flute
The ocarina has always been a little obscure in the US, less so in Continental Europe. It's techically a "vessel fipple flute", that is, there's a whistle-type mouthpiece that makes the initial note, and then a closed body with finger-holes to change the notes. It's an ancient instrument going back 12,000 years, so awfully close to "so simple a caveman could do it." Modern ears might consider it to have a "spacey" tone, so it's good for plaintive or trippy music, and as noted by the hundreds of YouTube clips of videogame songs, it's a coincidentally great fit for acoustic bitcore/chiptune.
I'd first emphasise that the price between a cheap no-name ocarina and a quality one are negligible, so spend the extra $5-10 and get one from a reliable maker with a good rep online. I'd also avoid any of the fun animal-shaped clay ones, as they're more decorative and less smooth players, and as a novice you want all the smoothness you can get. Unless you positively want something that fits in a watch pocket of your jeans (in which case get a Susatto pendant ocarina for $6.20) I suggest a mid-size model for easy handling and lower tone.
You have two major ocarnia layouts: "inline" where the fingerholes come straight down from your mouth, and "transverse"/"sweet potato"/"Zelda" where your hands go to the side of your mouth. Briefly: if you want to play ocarina because of Link, get a transverse, otherwise get an inline since they're a little more ergonomic. The two reliable and inexpensive brands I'd take a first look at are Mountain Ocarinas ($25 for a plastic inline) and Songbird ($13 for a plastic transverse). There's no reason not to get plastic as a novice; they sound good and are durable and affordable. Note also that ocarinas never need to be tuned, and take almost zero maintenance other than washing the spit out occasionally.
A few inspirational clips:
*Dark Overworld Theme from Link to the Past.
*Blackthorn Stick & Swallowtail Jig on Ocarina, for those digging Irish
*Bach's "Air on the G String"
The tinwhistle (or pennywhistle) has a lot of great things going for it. First off, they're like $5-9 for a good one, as in "professional musicians play $5 whistles". Compared to the ocarina, they're a bit harsher-sounding (which is good if you find ocarina too mellow), have a lot more range but a little less "chromaticity" (ability to change scales, do jazz notes, etc). Tinwhistles are ideal for Irish/English/Scottish music, also big in South African, and generally work well for about any Western European folk music, though not ideal for classical or jazz.
For brands, start with a good $5-10 whistle like Oak, Soodlum or Feadog (or Clarke if you like the conical sound), all under $10 in the US. Get one in D, as that's the standard key, though if you're ordering online and aren't short on cash, toss in a couple more fivers to get a Bb and a F, the lowest and near-highest of the cheapies, just to have a few more options. For the odder keys, Generation is the only $10ish maker (and the grandaddy of the cylindrical style), so use them for those, but for D the newer upstart brands are a bit better and more consistent in that price-range.
Again, these come pre-tuned and the only maintenance is hosing them down every so often. There is a vast array of instructional material online, and an entire forum to get support.
*Tin Whistle-- O'keefe's Slide/ Road to Lisdoonvarna (a little rough novice playing, but good tunes)
*Kicking some blues in Em
Moving on to string instruments. These are slightly pricier, but have the advantage of being able to play harmonies as well as melodies, and allow you to sing along with them. If you're a novice, I would recommend that you either spend $20 on an Intellitouch clip-on tuner, or else figure out how to use the microphone on your computer to check your instrument against a free online tuner. String instruments do need to be tuned occasionally, so make sure you hook yourself up with modern technology to make learning to tune painless.
These first two instruments I picked because they are nearly impossible to sound bad on and are very easy to learn. They're both very minimalist string instruments, but their limitations mean that it's semi-impossible to go wrong, and with even a few days of practice you'll be able to play identifiable songs, and also be able to just kick back and zone out while playing. Both of these can be very "meditative" instruments; I don't 420 myself, but I understand that these are ideal for that. For me, I can definitely kick back with a beer and just wander around the dulcimer for an hour with almost no conscious though, and yet it sounds great.
This is a particularly unusual instrument for Americans, but one really worth looking into. These instruments are native across much of Scandinavia and the Baltic, and fundamental to the area's folk tradition. Traditionally used to accompany runic songs, and even a century ago anthropologists noted that players could just get in a groove and zone out on the music:
"The player's fingers [touched] the strings according to the tune, but his eyes [did not] follow the activity, gazing blankly at the air in front of him. As the old man from Suojδrvi continued to play his endless 'summer hymn' I took a photograph, exposing the frame for a rather long time, and marveled at how he did not blink at all, nor pay any attention to my photography whatsoever. He had lapsed into his world of quiet strumming. Gradually, as the same tune continued with most subtle of variations, his body began to slump against the table, his eyelids closed, the old man played as if in his sleep. Although I listened with the ear of a seasoned observer, I felt myself being cast under a spell. After this experience I was easily able to believe Old Man Onoila when he told me of one Karelian man who played so sadly that he made his listeners cry, and so joyfully that he made them dance...."
Even the most minimal 5-string kantele can play the fundamental three chords you need to back up 80% of modern music, and can do more with some alternate tunings. There are quite a few online resources for these, and the small community is pretty enthusiastic about helping new folks.
If you're anywhere but Scandivia, get yours from Kantele.com; Henkel is a dude up in Minnesota who has won a metric rear end-ton of cultural awards and built 1,900 kanteles. His stuff is custom-made from solid woods, and yet only $135 for a brand-new 5-string. If you're in Scandinavia, Koisinen Kantele seems pretty legit, though prices start at 199 plus VAT, though they have a ton of cool options, including bass kanteles.
*Rainy Day Kantele, a slower tune
*Omasta pδδstδ (Improvisation) , some really fast playing on a little 5-string.
*A demo of chording and singing from Michael King's series of YT clips on how to play. If you're considering kantele, definitely watch all the clips, they're awesome.
Also known as the "mountain dulcimer", this instrument is about the closest the Western world has to the sitar. The instrument is native to the Appalachian mountains, so equally up to the task of playing ballads about killing your girlfriend in a whiskey-fueled rage, or hymns about Jesus' blood covering everything.
The dulcimer can be played as a drone instrument, basically making it a string bagpipe. The great thing about it is that it harmonises with itself, so pretty much whatever melody you plan will blend with the drones. You can drone on it (again, great for zoning out), or play guitar-like chords, so lots of options.
You can get these new as cheap as $50 for a cardboard dulcimer; don't let the name deter you, the fretboard is the load-bearing part, so pretty much any body type works. The cardboard ones you just hose down with spraypaint and they're about as good as wood, so don't think the cardboard ones are just toys. If you want a nice wooden one, you can get new wooden ones for about $150. I also have a standing offer to help goons find eBay used dulcimers and help you get a good one for under $100 shipped.
Yep, Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin.
*"This Road This Moment" by Bing Futch, one of the most prominent of modern dulcimer players, and owner of some awesome dreads.
*The murder-ballad "Pretty Polly", played by a really goony-looking mofo. Included though because it's an awesome ballad, he's playing the old-school drone style, and he's got this odd chubby Tom Waits thing going on.
*Little Plastic Castles covered by a geek chick in her bedroom, demonstrating the modern more guitar-like dulcimer chording style.
There are plenty more inexpensive/easy instruments, like the Native American flute, African mbira (thumb piano), etc., and I can get into those as needed. Later on in the thread I'll have sections on learning bagpipes (not the Highland pipes, but more accessible versions like the Scottish smallpipes, Irish uilleann, and the Swedish bagpipes), and on the concertina (small octagonal accordions). I'll also scare up some other goons to cover theremin (the sci-fi thing where you wave your hands in the air), traditional Indian instruments, and maybe the Arabic oud. Some of these items will be for goons who already have some basic music skills, but some are still pretty easy to learn.
At any time, feel free to jump in with "what about XYZ instrument?" and we can break it down for you. Just remember to specify what your overall interest is (jamming, meditative playing, learning a new tradition), price-range, and overall level of musical experience.
If you've always wanted to learn a cool and unique instrument, now is your time.
EDIT: Okay, made a rough accounting of goons served up to this point. A few either I missed their names or else they emailed me privately so I'm leaving them anonymous. And a few already had Instrument X so I've marked them "hauled out" to indicate they had one but resumed/started using it during the thread. There are a few folks (particularly withak) who were probably going to buy weird instruments thread notwithstanding, but whatever. Here's my rough tally, from publicly available posts in this thread:
Updated 26 July 2012
Im That One Guy (Blue Sweetone D)
Withak (Freeman custom C, Chieftan low D)
Cardiovorax (Sweetone D)
Xiahou Dun (Feadog? D)
Augster (hauled out a Cooper)
Evil Sagan (Feadog D, Generation Bb)
John Quixote (Feadog D)
Lavender Philtrum (Oak D)
Luminous Cow (hauled out a Walton D)
Mercury Hat (Clarke)
I Greyhound (Clarke)
Armacham ("a couple")
Mercury Hat (Clarke)
QPZIL (Clarke Original D)
Pham Nuwen (Clarke D)
Grape Juice Vampire (toy accordion)
A FUCKTON OF WEED (iPhone app)
withak (piano accordion, Elise Hayden duet)
Chin Strap (toy accordion, Elise Hayden duet)
ChurlishToff (toy accordion)
Testro (toy accordion)
Nuggan (toy accordion)
thousandcranes (toy accordion, iPhone app)
Armacham (120-bass piano accordion)
Lavender Philtrum (Woodstock toy accordion)
Kevindanger (toy accordion)
desert diver (Russian garmon, hauled out)
thousandcranes (vintage Wheatstone 48b English concertina)
Dulcimer (hammered and plucked)
TheBeardedCrazy (appears to be Cedar Creek or TX Dulcimer Company)
? (hauled out)
The Letter A (Apple Creek)
Econosaurus (no-name wooden)
radium's grandmother (Here, Inc.)
wormil (built 3-string cigar-box strumstick)
Tolan (Cripple Creek)
Blue Screen Error (small Hungarian cimbalon)
Xenpo (Mountain Ocarina)
Lavender Philtrum (Peruvian handmade)
SatansOnion (alto C sweet potato)
Jackard (hauled out)
LeJackal (hauled out)
sans pants (hauled out)
In It For The Tank (hauled out)
Planet X (Hohner)
SatansOnion (Hurrican Harps)
BigHustle (15 bar Chromaharp, Q-Chord electronic)
Paramemetic (21 bar Oscar Schmidt)
Etheldreda (made PVC flute)
HELP, MY ARM (bamboo in D by Erik the Flutemaker)
Longhouse (Indian bansuri)
Base Emitter (made PVC flute and shakuhachi)
Sjurygg (xiāo Chinese bamboo flute)
Pham Nuwen (3D printed one)
FelicityGS (Hall crystal fife)
Xiahou Dun (have we heard from him since his planned night of bourbon-fueled DB-making?)
? (hauled out)
Pham Nuwen (hauled out)
Sliderule (baroque soprano, alto recorder)
QPZIL (GHB practise chanter)
Zuph (built electronic bagpipe chanter)
Native American flute
FelicityGS (lap harp)
Arsenic Lupin (Triplett Sierra 30-string lever harp)
Analog and electronic
zachol (Korg Monotron Duo and Delay)
Base Emitter (building electronic hurdy-gurdy)
thomawesome (Meinl bodhran, bones)
RasputinsGhost (Meinl doumbek/darbuka)
Nuggan (violin, bongos, banjolele, Croatian brač)
Black Griffon (bowed psaltery)
Bolkovr (Xaphoon bamboo sax)
Wampa Stompa (didgeridoo)
I Greyhound (Henkel 5-string kantele)
Carbon Thief (Chinese qinqin banjo)
desert diver (Okinawan sanshin)
SecretSquirrel (Lunacharsky balalaika)
platedlizard (Hardanger fiddle, converting violin to Hardanger)
TapTheForwardAssist fucked around with this message at Dec 26, 2012 around 03:18
|# ¿ May 30, 2011 19:00|
|# ¿ May 22, 2013 12:06|
Any chance on a write-up about the zither? I'm a jazz guitar music student and wouldn't mind trying one out sometime. Haven't seen any in a music store though and they look pretty difficult to play. Not sure if they're something easy to improvise on or what.
In brief, that's a "concert zither", which is generally an instrument with five fretted strings and around 20-some open zither strings:
Don't know your nationality, but proceeding on the assumption you're American. The good-ish news is that these are extremely out of style in the US, so there are tons of these tucked away in closets nationwide that never get used. I would imagine that if you haunt eBay you can find one in great shape for under $100. I would just read up first on which brands were good, be really picky about condition (bug the seller with detailed questions if necessary), etc. Do note that the strings will probably be decades old and need replacing. An "official" concert zither string set from this one specialist seller is like $130, though I would imagine you can do some careful measuring and figure out a way to use more common strings (maybe improvise with an autoharp set?) to cut costs. New zithers are like $1500+, so you really want to shop around on used.
There are quite a few websites on concert zither, surprisingly more than I thought. If you can speak German there are probably quite a few more, but here are some I've found thus far:
http://www.zither.com.au/ - kind of minimal but a good FAQ
http://www.zither.us/ - some good basics, sells some books, etc.
http://www.zithers-usa.com/Anton%20Karas.htm - site for the main US zither newsletter, note also article on the musician from "The Third Man"
I would also check out any YouTube footage out there; there are a few tutorials, plenty of tunes showing close-ups of players' hands, etc. Given that it's somewhat of a niche instrument, I wouldn't be shy about contacting any of the folks who run these pages for advice, get some info on finding a good used one, on re-stringing for less than a fortune, etc. I would positively get a good electronic tuner though, as with that many strings you don't want to dick around. EDIT: if you can find a good/working zither for like $100ish, $130 for strings isn't actually insane since the total instrument is still cheaper than even a low-end guitar. But I would definitely get some of that string polish/preservative stuff to keep those new strings fresh as long as possible. Also, while you have the old strings off is the perfect time to thoroughly (carefully) clean decades of gunk off the instrument.
I've played quasi-related instruments, so my overall assessment is that as a jazz guitarist you shouldn't have any real trouble learning this instrument. It's pretty much a guitar played in a funny position, with some extra open strings to provide harmony. The main challenge will be acquiring a decent used one, getting new strings on it, and getting used to the tuning and different position from guitar.
It is a pretty interesting instrument that's much overlooked these days. Good on you for pondering something new, and definitely let us know what you find out as you look into it.
TapTheForwardAssist fucked around with this message at Jun 4, 2011 around 23:12
|# ¿ May 31, 2011 05:19|
Black Griffon posted:
Price tag is 450 dollars, but stuff is more expensive in Norway, so it would be closer to 250 in the US. He's put it aside until 6/11, when I get my paycheck, but I'm still not sure I'll be able to afford it. Youtube does not do it justice, it's a beautiful sound.
$US450? Even with shipping and customs, you might get off a fair bit cheaper buying from the US, particularly if you can get a used one (from a good, recognised maker) on eBay or off the Sales section of some folk-music forum.
If you like the exact one at the store, sure, go for it. But if cash is going to be a deciding factor, these instruments are sufficiently inexpensive in the US that you may come out ahead ordering overseas.
|# ¿ May 31, 2011 12:39|
In all seriousness, if you can actually play some basic stuff on it decently, you can put an ad up on Craiglist and offer to play backup for a band if they want to include melodica in a show. Who knows, maybe some local garage india band will want you to learn to back one of their tunes and come up on state with them. In the meantime, I'd just chuck on some shoegazer rock recordings and learn to play along with them for practice.
Please tell me what I can do with my Melodica.
For those unfamiliar, he's talking about one of these:
It's basically either a harmonica where you use keys to free the reeds to vibrate, or conversely an accordion where you blow into it rather than use bellows. Just depends how you look at it.
I've played an Ocarina for years, mostly just songs I've figured out or memorized when I was 13 and just never forgot. It's an instrument that has been almost loving destroyed by Zelda and I'm loath to mention that I play it simply because of that and how easy it is to play.
I was wondering what the ocarinist opinion on Zelda was. How "destroyed" exactly? More that it drew in talentless hacks, or that people stopped thinking about all the other stuff ocarina can do and just focused on videogame music? In whatever case, on some degree there is still some goodness in just more people learning to play music.
I'd appreciate any comments on the glass harmonica. I want to perfect my Benjamin Franklin by the end of the summer.
Sure, they start around $7,000. And apparently one of the only makers mysteriously disappeared a few years ago. Not like "we haven't heard much from him", but as in "walked out the door, never got where he was going, never seen since." Guess that freaky glass harmonica finally did him in.
On the bright side, there's always the glass harp, which cost you about 1/1000 of what a glass armonica (the official term, apparently) costs you, if you stock up on old wine glasses at Goodwill and fill them with free water. Not loving with you, it would seriously be a fun skill to learn, and there are various online tutorials to get your started.
I'm going to be learning the hammered dulcimer this summer! I used to play xylophone so I figured it wouldn't be too hard to learn
In a weird way, that's a surprisingly appropriate instrument to transition to. If you want to post up a little blurb on HD, maybe using the same format as I used for the instruments in the OP, folks might enjoy hearing about that.
I'm laid up right now with a torn MCL, learning how to play a dulcimer sounds like a great way to keep myself occupied. Where are some good resources for beginners? I've been playing the piano forever so I can read music already.
The fundamental hippie classic is now free online, In Search of the Wild Dulcimer. The surviving author is just a cool guy and released it to the public domain, which is awesome.
Fundamentally, all you really need to know for dulcimer is how to tune it different ways to get different scales. It can only play in one scale at a time, so depending how you tune it it'll only play in a Major scale, a Minor Scale, Dorian (Celtic minor), Mixolydian (a kind of Scottish/Appalachian minorish-major), Phrygian (a kind of Latin/Gypsy minor), Lydian (a kind of wistful sounding overly-major major), etc. Once you're stuck in that key, you can wander freely around the fretboard, and the drone strings will automatically harmonise with whatever you're playing.
Alternately you can also just do standard chords on it like a guitar, at which point it's like playing a guitar with only half as many strings and half as many frets, so still pretty dang easy.
It's the easiest string instrument to sound really good on, and I've taught several dozen people how to play. Most people can go from zero experience to playing a slightly clumsy "Amazing Grace" in about 20 minutes. Reading music is completely unnecessary to dulcimer, but I suppose it never hurts.
For you, and anyone else interested in dulcimer, shoot me a PM or whatever letting me know sort of what you're looking for and what price range and I can help you find one. For $50-75 you take a little risk of getting a fixer-upper off eBay, for $100-200 you can almost definitely get a pretty nice used one on eBay, or decent new student model. $300-400 can get you most any dulcimer on the market except for a few top-end makers that are mostly charging for non-functional frills.
For context, I own one of these and it's drat amazing; pros play this model, and it only cost around $450.
Bradley Fish rocking out on a Ewing baritone dulcimer.
Note too there are tons of different dulcimer tutorials online, a dedicated forum (Everything Dulcimer), and that dreadlocked dude Bing Futch is up to #100-something of a semi-professional quality video podcast called "Dulcimerica". Here's his blues tutorial; a bit more advanced, but it gives you a rough idea: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T_1P8eWR2eY .
|# ¿ Jun 1, 2011 05:14|
Sanguinary Novel posted:
I was given a mandolin a long time ago from a friend and this thread reminded me that it is a terrible shame that I have not done anything with it. Its been about, oh, 5 years since I received it. Should I take it into a shop and have someone check it out?
Not really; it's either probably going to be fine, or if he gave you some piece of junk there's no point paying money just to find that out. Can you give us a name off it, and/or a pic?
New strings are always good. Coupla caveats: change the strings one at a time, don't take off all the old ones and then put on all the new ones. You keep the pressure consistent and also minimise bridge movement that way.
Speaking of bridge movement (the bridge is the raised piece between the soundhole and the tailpiece which holds the strings up, it's counterpart up at the end of the neck is the "nut"), there's a chance your bridge may have shifted. This is easily fixed by checking the harmonic against the 12th fret. If that term means nothing to you, give a shout here in the thread once you get new strings on it and we can walk you through it.
I'm sure I at least need to purchase a new set of strings. Besides a tuner, can you think of anything else a beginner should have?
If the shop has a bucket of those little "string winders" at the front counter for $2, grab one of those. It's an extended lever so you can tighten the tuners with a big hand motion instead of tiny finger motion. It's not for daily use, but for the times you put new strings on so you don't have to make 40 little twisty movements to get the new string up to pitch.
Definitely a tuner, I recommend a little clip-on Intellitouch, around $20.
The single most awesome book I've ever seen for mandolin is Nile's Hokkanen's Pocket Guide to Mandolin Chords. It's not so much a starter book, but I'd say once you are able to play three-chord songs, you'll quickly be able to make use of the book. It's not a simple "A chord, B chord, C chord" reference book, but a conceptual book showing how all the chord formations are related and can be segued into each other. It's $4 and pocket-sized, so no reason not to get it.
For picks, get a small assortment at first: I'd say three of each main type, the broad leaf guitar picks, and the tiny teardrop picks mando-players favour. I'd get one medium-light, one medium, and one medium-heavy of each. If you're not sure, just describe what I just typed to the shopkeep, and he'll know just what I mean.
I can read sheet music, but I have never tried reading tabs or played a stringed instrument, so this shall be interesting.
edit: Also, thanks to this thread, I can identify a lot more instruments when listening to background music and movie soundtracks. It's a shame that there's so many to try and so little time.
It's a huge world of music. And while there's nothing wrong with learning guitar, there's no reason not to check out all the options before deciding.
First, this is a really awesome thread and I really look forward to the bagpipe discussion ; if there's a cheap way to get some uillean pipes up in this, I might have a new instrument to learn.
I don't play UP myself, but I've read up a little on it. I can tell you the one single maker of affordable student UPs, and I can tell you what the main discussion site is:
Chiff and Fipple - Uilleann subforum
Also check out Uilleann Obsession for info.
If you're interested in scoping out UP, your best bet it to spend some time reading through threads on C&F, especially the FAQ.
If cost is an issue, the first thing you need to know is to not buy any Pakistani clone UPs off of eBay or some general online music shop. People generally buy a "practice set" first, which is just the bag, bellows, and chanter (melody pipe). Later they add several drones to their original settup, making it a "half set". And then you can add the "regulators", several big pipes with keys you hit with your wrist to make chords, to equal a "full set". Though I'm under the impression a lot of folks just stick with a half-set.
For affordable "practice sets", the main affordable makes are David Daye (all synthetic, DIY kits for $388, assembled for $568), and Pat Sky (wood, $750). EDIT: Seth Hamon now makes a cast-resin polymer chanter for $350 for a practice set minus bellows (bellows run $150 and up generally). Alternately, if you ask around you may be to scrounge up a good-quality chanter, and then get a new bag and secondhand bellows to match it up with. Note that a "practice set" isn't the same as a "practice chanter", it's a full-on real UP just without the various accompaniment pipes. It's actually semi-common to play just the chanter in environments where you already have other instruments harmonising, and drones would be redundnant-ish. UP is pretty popular for film soundtracks, and for that it's almost always just the chanter, so don't feel you're missing too much getting a PC. Note: Daye pipes tend to be a bit on the louder side, but he does make an "apartment chanter" variant with a softer sound. UPs were historically softer until mid-20th C tweaks to the design, so the softer pipes aren't untraditional.
That's about all I can do for you on UP, but unlike many obscure instruments, the UP has a relatively strong online, English-speaking presence, so should be easy to chat folks up and get info. If you learn anything interesting, feel free to drop by here and share it.
For the other bagpipe folks, this weekend I'll aim to do an intro to Swedish bagpipes (my personal favourite and main pipe I play). For Scottish pipes, I'll cover them, with the caveat that if you want to play Great Highland pipes (the big loud ones where you march in a kilt), you do not want to teach yourself, you want to join a band as a noob. However, if you want to play Scottish/Celtic music in general, as in jamming in pubs, playing along with fiddles and guitars, you want the rather different "Scottish smallpipes" or "Lowland pipes". More on these later.
If you recall nothing else I say about bagpipes, recall this: do not buy Pakistani bagpipes off of eBay/random website/catalog/at all. They're cheap, but total false economy since they're basically unplayable, especially for a noob.
TapTheForwardAssist fucked around with this message at Mar 11, 2012 around 01:48
|# ¿ Jun 2, 2011 23:27|
sata andagi posted:
You don't happen to play the shamisen, do you? I'd like to know more about them.
I do not; I think I've messed with one a couple times, but that's about it.
There is, unfortuantely, not a ton about shamisen online in English. That said, apparently a really good book came out recently in English about it, and there are a few serious teachers in California and in Colorado.
Nice shamisen are really drat expensive for such a simple-looking instrument (thousands), but apparently decent student ones can be had around $450. I do see cheaper ones on eBay, like $200, but as a general rule don't buy random eBay instruments without having clear knowledge of the reputation of the specific make, or specific seller. The very similar Okinawan sanshin seems to go for cheaper, but I don't know if good shansin are similarly cheaper than good shamisen.
If you are seriously interested, I'd dig around a few of the English language sites about the instrument, ascertain what your odds are of finding a teacher, or how comfy you feel getting a book/CD tutorial and giving it a shot. And if cash is an issue, find out how cheap a shamisen you can buy without it being cripplingly shoddy.
Probably the best video I've seen explaining US shamisen issues is this one, so I'd take a hard look at as many of this guy's videos as you care to, and maybe email him for some advice:
It's a cool instrument, and (in a purely mechanical sense), it seems to be a combination of guitar, banjo, and violin, so in terms of just physical motion not unduly hard to learn. The real trick will be wrapping your mind around Japanese musical styles (unless you already listen to a lot of Japanese folk music), or else deciding to just use it for Western music.
EDIT: As a totally off the wall suggestion, if you want something shamisen-esque, but a bit more affordable/durable, I know a guy or two who might be talked into making you a fretless banjo with three strings, kind of a hybrid banjo-shamisen. Drop me a line if interested in that; it'd almost certainly be a decent bit cheaper than a decent shamisen, and if you're mostly wanting something shamisen-esque to play with rather than getting truly into the scene, it might serve you even better.
After watching the last third of this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sD9hfB9kIUA
General caveat: strumsticks are pretty easy to build, so there's a temptation for guys with not much real luthier skill to knock some out and sell them. I have one sitting in the corner of my room right now that I got for $50 on eBay. It looks great, but the neck is simply too narrow to play comfortably, and I'm not thrilled with the nut angle and general headstock.
If you want something strumstick-ish, I'd check the archives and/or start a new thread at http://www.everythingdulcimer.com to find out what makers have a good rep.
Do note too that most strumsticks have rather small bodies, so somewhat lacking in tone fullness compared to larger instruments. For an instrument with the same concept and fretboard but a full-size body, check out the "walkabout dulcimer" from Olympic Musical Instruments. I've messed with their stuff since the mid-1990s; they do nice work and at $450 you're getting a lot for your buck. It can't compete for cheapness with a strumstick, but something to bear in mind if you upgrade later, or if cash isn't a major problem right now.
8-string chromatic walkabout
Note that the 8-string chromatic is getting far enough from dulcimer that it's essentially identical to an octave mandolin, also called an Irish bouzouki. A similar 10-string instrument is called a cittern (not to be confused with the medieval cittern). If you like the overall big/drony sound, and you aren't dead-set on the diatonic (one scale only, like having just the white keys on a piano) of the upright dulcimers, consider a cittern/bouzouki/octave mando.
Here's a guy playing Breton Celtic tunes on a bouzouki
Here's my favourite Scots ballad, "Twa Corbies" on octave mando.
I want to learn the ruler. Right now finding the correct lengths to get the right pitch is hard, mostly because I'm tone-deaf and my guitar tuner won't pick up the sound. Any tips? Besides "practice more," I'm working on that. Suggestions for ruler-friendly songs as well, chords are downright out - currently trying the can-can.
I really don't think that most people who claim to be "tone deaf" actually are. It's about as drat silly as self-diagnosed Aspergers. You probably just need to sack up and apply some confidence.
That said, if nailing the right length to get the right pitch is your issue, you need to be a) taking your time and b) playing against something so you can hear how close you are. Pick a song that has some really slow background notes (maybe a song with a bass part that's only like one note a measure) and try to match the slow accompaniment, and play along with it on your stereo. If you try to do fast melodies you'll trip yourself up, and if you don't play along with something else you won't be able to easily tell if you're on-pitch or no.
Trying to accompany a recording is a great way to practice; not as good as live jamming, but definitely a useful technique, especially since it forces you to improve both your sense of timing and your pitch, both of which can be hard to track when it's just you by yourself.
TapTheForwardAssist fucked around with this message at Jun 4, 2011 around 05:46
|# ¿ Jun 3, 2011 05:36|
Sanguinary Novel posted:
Johnson is nothing fancy, but should be a solid starter. If you play seriously for about 6mo or so and still plan to continue, that may be a good time to upgrade. Also, if you're not short on cash, it may be good karma to gift the Johnson to some poor friend, same as how you got it.
Good initiative on checking action but note that height above the body is of little significance, the issue is height of the strings above the frets. On a lot of instruments you can quick-check action without tools by using coins. In the case of a mando, the measure appears to be a dime set atop the 12th fret:
A dime makes a reasonable gauge to judge the height of the strings on a mandolin at the 12th fret. A dime measures about .050 inches thick. A mandolin that is setup properly with the frets level and properly crowned and a straight neck or a neck with slight relief (very slight bend) can have low action. The height of the string from the top of the fret to the bottom of the string can easily be .050 inches on the bass side at the 12th fret and .040 inches on the treble side at the 12th fret. So a dime should just about fall out when put under the bass strings at the 12th fret and hold snug under the treble strings at the 12th fret. #Please keep in mind that a mandolin setup includes all of the factors like angle of neck to the body of the mandolin, straightness of the neck, how level the frets are, how deep the slots on the nut are, where the bridge is positioned and its height, so these are just general guidelines and a good setup really involves interpretation of all the factors together. That's my dimes worth.
Also, YouTube video on dicking with mando action.
If you're curious about it, spend a little Google time checking "mandolin action" to get a feel for different ways. Fortunately, you have an adjustable bridge; those little serrated-coin dealies raise and lower the bridge. I say be bold and try to get it where you want it. If you start getting fret-buzz you're too low, but otherwise low action is generally a good thing.
Anyone familiar with Puetro Rican Cuatros? They are like a cross between a mandolin and a guitar, 10 strings with 5 courses, tuned BEADG so guitar chords work, just in different voicings. I got mine for less then 100 bucks off ebay and love it.
If you're okay with a soft case, any medium-sized "gig bag" should do. You can sometimes get those really cheap from panwshops. If you want a harder case, you might need to either find a specific quatro case (not sure how standarised they are), or else get a square case and some foam and cut out an interior padding for it.
I haven't had one, but I have had a couple of the very similar Colombian tiples, which is the same as guitar/ukulele tuning, but with tripled metal strings. The Cuban tres is another fun member of the family, and plays a very distinctive role as the main backing instrument of Cuban son music, and old school salsa.
Most of these Latin American guitar-ish instruments are pretty affordable and have good basic instructions and YouTube tutorials online. These can be a great option if you want something kind of close to guitar or mandolin, and something where the skills are all very interchangable, but still want to mix it up a little bit.
As the above poster mentioned, this is actually one of the instruments it can be okay to buy on eBay. Just make sure you're buying a brand that has good word-of-mouth on Google, and is sold by a seller with lots of good feedback.
|# ¿ Jun 4, 2011 21:35|
Okay, next bagpipe.
To start off with, yes there are tons of very different kinds of bagpipes. Depending how you count them, about 100 or so, from as far west as Portugal, as far south as Oman, as far north as Lappland (the arctic areas of Scandinavia), and as far east as India.
To head off any question: no, the Scots positively did not invent bagpipes, nor were they particularly early adopters. The slightly more intellectual misapprehension is that it's a "Celtic" instrument, with the Breton of France and Galicians of Spain being further evidence as the remnants of European Celts. However, this is also disproven by the fact that the non-Celtic neighbors of these folks also have bagpipes, and then plenty of areas with little/no Celtic influence. Bagpipe origin is still disputed, but primary theories are that it's a Middle Eastern instrument spread by the Crusades, an Indian instrument spread by the Romany (gypsies), or a Roman instrument spread by colonisation, though again there's no evidence that the Romans brought the pipes to the British Isles. In any case, Swedes had bagpipes too. The last traditional player shuffled off this mortal coil pre-WWII, but the instrument was revived around the 1980s.
I play Swedish pipes (sackpipa) myself, and they're awesome. They're of moderate volume, so easy to play indoors or along with guitar/fiddle. They have a very distinct mellower tone than the more popular pipes, probably because they use a very different type of reed, and cylindrical bore. On the practical side, sackpipa are also great because they're small, take little air, can play several different scales (which not all pipes can do), and are quite inexpensive.
If you're interested in taking them up, a good-quality student pipe made from synthetics costs $385 from Seth Hamon in Texas. If you're dead set on wood, either Hamon or Boris Favre (Vancouver, BC) can hook you up for probably $700-800. If you go with Hamon, I'd definitely pay for the small upgrade to synthetic reeds, as that eliminates one real hassle for noobs.
There are plenty of players online (both English and Swedish speaking), a forum for each language, and an entire instructional website with massive detail, technical tips, tunebook, etc. If you're interested in this at all, you simply must read Olle Gallmo's "Swedish Bagpipes" site.
- Lφrdagsvisa, my favourite Swedish song, played with a modern hybrid sackpipa with bellows under the arm (rather than blowing by mouth) and bass drone.
-Ljugaren, played with a sackpipa, fiddle and drum
-The Miller of Dee, an old British folk tune on sackpipa
In a few days, I'll cover the next type of pipes the Scottish smallpipe. Again, if you want a Scottish bagpipe for marching around or playing funerals/weddings, before you buy anything find yourself a band or teacher. The Great Highland pipe has a very specific tradition, and (IMO) is great in those traditions but not very versatile outside them. If you want a Scottish pipe for jamming with friends, playing in a band with fiddles and guitars, kicking back in your apartment with a beer and playing some jigs, you definitely want a Scottish smallpipe instead of the Great Highland pipe.
If interest holds, later on in the thread I can delve briefly into Spanish, Italian, French, and German pipes. I don't play those myself, but can provide you some resources to explore. The Italian pipe is chronically short of players in the US, so if you're an Italian American wanting to get in touch with your heritage, I highly recommend looking into those. Here's the trailer for a great documentary on Italian pipes, shot by an Italian-American piper.
TapTheForwardAssist fucked around with this message at Jun 4, 2011 around 22:59
|# ¿ Jun 4, 2011 21:57|
How about the didjeridoo? I picked one up in Australia a few years ago and figured out the circular breathing but haven't done much with it since.
The Cleaner, above, opened himself up to didg questions; I'll ping him on PMs if I can.
The main thing I'd imagine comes up with didg is not so much how to get better at it (keep playing, watch YouTube tutorials, read threads about it), but what to actually do with it. I haven't played on seriously, but I'd be curious to know what folks do with this skill. It sounds cool, but do you back up certain kinds of jams, play along with albums, just meditate, or what?
Do you have any recommendations for a good tiple (any kind)? I've actually been looking for one since getting my cuatro, but ebay doesn't have much of a selection.
Your Google-search is as good as mine, unfortunately. Do you read Spanish at all? Might be more threads on some Spanish forums for it. I know that Lone Star had a pretty good rep, and looking into it I see they're now called Paracho, and that is the main make sold on eBay. Is Lone Star also the one you got your cuatro from?
I don't know what you do on your cuatro (just strum it uke/guitar style?), but you might find it really interesting to watch some YouTube of tres players. Traditionally, it appears the main thing tres does in backing up is to play complex arpeggios; that is, to form a simple chord with the left hand, and then the right hand plays a series of fingerpicking patterns, then change chords and keep playing a similar pattern. It's very distinctive once you get used to listening for it, and makes a relatively simple string sound ornate.
I'm inclined to cover autoharp next, but before I do, does someone already here specialise in that? I can give some general advice and cool clips, but don't have a ton of specifics. You can do really complex stuff on one as you get good, but for basic "chord... strum-strum" stuff it's an extremely easy instrument, fast to sound good on, and there are plenty of quite inexpensive used ones of good make on eBay.
PJ Harvey does some freaky stuff; she is to autoharp what Rasputina is to cello: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Va0w5pxFkAM
|# ¿ Jun 6, 2011 04:14|
I've actually had a mountain dulcimer inside a closet in my house for as long as I can remember. This topic has given me a reason to dust it off and learn how to play it.
Awesome! After you mess with it for a day or two, you'll probably want to spend $5 on a new set of strings (online may be easiest). If your tuners misbehave and keep slipping, or if you get it tuned up perfect but a few notes sound off when you play, post here or PM me and I can walk you through some really simple basic maintenance.
Note the above posts for all the online tutorials, book, etc.
I'd love to learn the steel pan drum, I love the sound and I've played one once before and it was a blast. Anyone have any advice on learning that isn't "spend a grand on one and see if you like it?"
You might want to do a little google-research here. I glanced around, and I'm finding some brands like Panyard that carry a broad range, some as cheap as $150 or so on Amazon. Also there's Rockcreek who appear to be pretty serious folks and have a "single guitar" drum for $595. They also have a variant called a "tongue drum" (not to be confused with the wooden tongue drum) that aren't true classic steel drums, but are similar and a lot easier/cheaper to make; those are $145 for a 9-note, but I'd suggest going up at least a size.
Neat clip of hand-playing the above.
I'd definitely go digging and read up on it; maybe see if there's a good big percussion forum that has some steel pan threads, or where you can sign up and post a noob thread?
The Mutato posted:
Dulcimer question here!
Coupla things. US/AU$500 is pretty steep for dulcimers unless the guy has a seriously good rep. And even then, I generally wouldn't advise a noob to spend too-too much on a new custom dulcimer, mainly because you might not know what you like until you get a better feel for the instrument. So you don't want to buy something high-quality but arbitrary, and a year later realise that you definitely want a cedar-topped, walnut-body baritone with Schaller tuners and the 1+ and 6+ frets. Not to say that you shouldn't buy a good dulcimer as your first if you can afford it (and they're really not pricey instruments), just that paying extra for new and custom may lock you into something you'll transition away from.
If your budget is anything near $500, I would definitely look into buying a good used custom or top-end production dulcimer from the US. I've seen McSpaddens (respected workshop company) go in the mid-$200s used (often with nice case), and some good custom makers like go for $300-400 new, so $250ish used. Even with hefty shipping and tariffs, you should be able to come in well under $500, and again unless this guy has a serious online rep that's a high price for just some dude. I'd feel fine getting a used McSpadden off of eBay, and for used custom I'd hit up the Sales forum at Everythingdulcimer.com and stick to buying dulcimers from current/recent/living makers, and ones who have a butt-ton of threads oohing and aahing over them as folks squeal about getting their new Maker XYZ.
That said, if you consider yourself a good judge of guitars, and you get a chance to check out this custom Ozzie's work, if you get a warm fuzzy about it, his stuff sounds/feels great, and you have some general idea of what you want and can afford $500, I wouldn't flat out advise not to.
So far as left handedness. Barring the odd one made with an irregular body shape, dulcimers are internally and externally symmetrical, so to switch handedness all you need to is swap out the bridge and nut, though depending on how the cut them you might be able to literally just take it out, flip it around, and now it's lefty. If you get a brand like McSpadden, they may have a bunch of extra slots cut in the nut for re-configuration already. And/or with any dulcimer where the maker/outfit is still running, you can probably have them just send you an extra nut and bridge in the mail for cheap, and pretty much any guitar shop could fabricate you a new nut/bridge and set the action height of your choosing, which shouldn't cost more than $50 or so.
Long post, but basically you have a variety of options. If you decide to track down a good used US dulcimer, PM me and I can help you find a good one.
You don't happen to know anything about the double flute, do you?
There are quite a few different kinds of double-flute. Fortunately for you, I have at least passing familiarity with several of them. Which kind are you talking about :
-Eastern European? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Li0C...feature=related
-Native American? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PqxQ0XqZxG4 (this guy has a ton of awesome clips)
TapTheForwardAssist fucked around with this message at Jun 8, 2011 around 03:46
|# ¿ Jun 8, 2011 03:32|
Got to get to bed; dulcimer/psaltry replies later, though glad for the good news on both.
Have any tips on where to get an alpenhorn? They're quasi-famous from the Ricola commercials in the 80's.
Yes, you do. Alphorns and bugles both fall into the category of "natural horns", horns where the body is fixed (no valves, no slides), so primarily you can play the "harmonic series". Think of tunes like Taps, Reveille, etc.; those sound like that because those are some of the only notes they have, ones occurring in the harmonic series, discrete mathematical steps of increasing pitch.
You can game the game a bit with some lip adjustment or (on instruments where you can reach) sticking your hand in the bell. Natural trumpets in general are pretty cool, and most parts of the world have one kind or another. I'm partial to the Tibetan dragon horn myself:
Though the Tibetan dungchen is cool too:
So far as alphorns, they're drat pricey, like $2,000-4,000. However, there are other ways to go about natural horns. There are a few folks online who have built alphorn-type things out of PVC and whatnot, so that's looking into. And actually, a didgeridoo is a kind of natural horn, just with a larger embrochure than we're used to.
It may sound a big odd, but you can get a feel for natural horns by spending a few bucks and making a hosaphone:
Basically, you buy a brass-instrument mouthpiece (probably cheap on eBay, you need to read up and figure what kind you want), buy a length of hose, a funnel, and connect them all. Kinda DIY, but the result is a no-kidding natural horn, and they don't sound bad for the price, and if you're going to enjoy playing any kind of natural horn you'll have weeks of fun just messing with a hosaphone.
Note that most clips are just folks experimenting, mainly brass players who just made one for kicks, though there are a few professional performance clips. Overall, it is mainly treated as a novelty instrument, though generally as capable as natural horns are, but in general people really into natural horns are baroque geeks that own $5,000 instruments so aren't going to focus on the hosaphone for long.
In any case, if you want a natural horn at all, a hosaphone is somewhere to start, and if you dig that you should look perhaps into building something more substantial of PVC, getting a good quality bugle, a starter baroque classical horn, etc.
Also, not a natural horn, since it has finger-holes, but a cool obsolete brass instrument is the serpent: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eMwTv4hfQv8
There are a few folks online who've build PVC serpents, and I reckon you could always build a hole-less serpent to play as a natural horn if you want something more portable than a alphorn.
If you end up messing with any of this, definitely let us know. It sounds pretty cool, and for the price a hosaphone seems a sure thing.
Glad I found this thread, I've been having an itch lately to play an instrument again but have no idea where to start. I played the clarinet for a year in middle school and have pretty much forgotten how to read music but I can probably relearn. I did bass and banjo for a couple months each but had to stop both for various circumstances. Any advice for what I should try to pick up for this bout of musical experimentation?
Dang bubba, can you narrow it down a bit for us? What kind of music styles are you interested in playing? What social role do you want to fill?
If you, say, like bluegrass and want to be able to go to bluegrass jam sessions at bars, jam out at music festivals, etc, you could get a mandolin.
If you want to just smoke a bowl, lay on the couch, and make some soothing and melodic sounds, get a Native American flute.
If you're into singer-songwriter stuff, and want a mellow instrument to back up your voice but something more interesting than guitar, get a concertina.
Not that any of these apply to you, but just showing that it's a pretty open-ended question. Post back and let us know what kind of music you want to do and why, maybe a little info if you want this to be a serious study or just something casual you can dick with and be sounding good on with little practice, and some idea of price so that we don't try to excite you about expensive stuff (there are tons of inexpensive instruments too).
EDIT: If anyone is looking for some cheap but usable Scottish bagpipes, there are a couple eBay options that look good:
Piper's Choice "kitchen pipes" @ $49 and three days left. Not an amazing brand, but not terrible, and since these retail for $325, I'd say a pretty good deal for $150 or under.
Seth Hamon Scottish smallpipes (mouthblown) in Bb. I know this guy personally and he makes good stuff, these are with 1+ days left, $300 bid and $390 BiN, so even at $390 I'd say these are a decent deal, and at $300 a steal.
TapTheForwardAssist fucked around with this message at Jun 9, 2011 around 06:32
|# ¿ Jun 9, 2011 05:03|
Chin Strap posted:
Ive always wanted some sort of concertina or accordion type instrument, but wonder if the cheap ones are any good at all. How much am I looking to spend on a servicable one?
Stand by, this is going to be a long one. I'll try to give you the wave-tops and not get into undue detail until you give some indication of what direction you want.
Accordion and concertina are conceptually similar, but have somewhat different feels, have very different musical roles, and the communities of players don't really cross over that much.
Generally, if you're interested in a squeezebox (to use a generic slang term for both), which you pick will generally be decided by what type of musical tradition you want to fit into. Exceptions being if you're going for "LOL random!!!" just playing along with your indie band, or if you're more interested in backing up your singing, jamming with a guitarist doing general American popular acoustic, etc.
EDIT: As with most things in this thread, do not just buy some random squeezebox off of eBay without discussing it with someone knowledgeable. There are a variety of lovely import boxes on the market, and obsolete boxes with are 95% likely broken and completely uneconomical to fix. I or members of various musician forums would be happy to help you find an affordable and quality deal, just make sure you don't just buy the first piece of poo poo that looks shiny and is cheap
General definitions: on accordions, the buttons push at right-angles to the bellows, on concertinas they push in the direction of the bellows. Sounds a minor distinction, but its follow-on effects make the big differences.
Bi/Uni-sonoric: on both accordion and concertina, the big divide in types is based on whether they're bi or uni-sonoric (pause for joke). A bi-sonoric instrument has different notes on the push and pull, kind of like a harmonica where you get different notes breathing in and out. A unisonoric instrument has the same note on push and pull. The upshot of this is bisonoric squeezeboxing is defined by having to change directions a lot, adding a lot of rhythm. Unisonoric you just keep pushing until you run out of air, then start pulling until you run out of air, so they're flowier.
Speaking in very general terms, the main unisonoric accordion is the "piano accordion", probably what most people think of when they hear "accordion":
It has a standard piano-type keyboard on one side, and on the other a bunch of buttons which give bass notes and chords. They're not at all bad instruments, but they're rather heavy/bulky, culturally seen as a little cheesy, and I dunno I just never really got into them. In fairness, they do have a lot of range, and can play in any key:
These, for our purposes, are generally bisonoric, so in YouTube clips you can note folks doing some bouncing to change notes. I was going to say "there's a huge variety of these", but come to think of it, most of them are pretty similar, it's just that a wide variety of traditions use somewhat different distinct variants. For example:
Cajun (not Zydeco, which is more varied) about exclusively uses one-row, 10-button accordions. These are drat awesome.
Clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H0PJRetnkIE (rarely played purely solo like this, but sounds great backing up his song. Usually played in a Cajun combo with guitar, fiddle, triangle [seriously] and bass)
Don't know much about these, but they usually play three-row button. Apparently one of the gods of Tejano never used his bass buttons, so imitators stopped using them, so now there are Tejano boxes that come from the factory with no bass reeds since nobody uses them anyway.
The Irish mainly use the 2-row button accordion, though there are some minimalists using the one-row. I'm a contrarian, so I like the one-row, also called the "melodeon"
The Irish one-row melodeon is almost the same thing as the Cajun, but slightly different voice and usually a different key.
The two-row has two rows in two different keys, and by alternating rows you can get more in-between notes, and also only "bounce" when you want to for rhythm, and other times cheat around it by changing rows.
Okay, that's the utter basics of accordions. Moving onto concertinas. Speaking very generally (and using unofficial terms), there's the "concertina" as known in the English-speaking world, and there's the "konzertina" or "Big Square German Concertina" played in Germany, Argentina, Upper Midwest USA, etc.
These are a bit big, about the size of a largish button accordion, but smaller than a piano accordion. Bisonoric in almost all cases. Crucial to both Argentine tango and Milwaukee polka. The Argentines got it when German immigrant sailors were asked to play some background music in Argentine brothels, which makes for a cool backstory.
Clip of tango: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4c-B7dPBzaU
Clip of Americana alt-country band 16 Horsepower: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wu_d_tyroMI
Briefly, small hexagonal/octagonal boxes with buttons on the end. I won't post a ton of pics, since the major variants look about the same except for key layout.
Anglo concertina: bi-sonoric, popular for Irish and English traditional folk-dance. Called "Anglo-German" until WWI made German stuff unfashionable (calling frankfurters "victory sausage", etc.)
English concertina: unisonoric. The scale alternates between the two sides, so since the scale is divided between two hands you can do lightning-fast runs, so not as good for chords but great for melody, fiddle-tunes, classical, etc.
Clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3BQJOucVnCw (she's playing a rather rare baritone/bass concertina)
Duet: unisonoric, but the low notes are on the left hand and the high notes on the right. Kind of a compromise between the two above, and in my opinion one of the more flexible boxes for folks who want to do basic jamming, backing up a band, singer-songwriter, etc. I play one myself, and I've been really happy with that choice.
So, that about explains the basic. If, reading this, anyone is interested in one kind or the other, shout out and I can walk you through the thought. Squeezeboxes aren't unduly expensive for starters, but it varies a bit by type. There's a very reputable line of starter concertinas (of any of the three types) for around $350, Concertina Connection. I imagine we can probably find you most any of the above boxes in the $300-600 range.
Lastly, in all seriousness, if you're interested in button accordion, blow $20 on one of these. It's better if you can try one out in a store that happens to have them so you can check out a bunch and make sure you get a good one, but for $20 I'd take the risk on eBay just to try one out.
Additionally, I have a buddy who, for about $90, can gut the insides of these and put in top-quality reeds, so you can actually end up with a decent knock-around box. I've had a few of those, and they were perfectly in-tune, good tone, and great for jam sessions. Overall a good buy if you kind of want a squeezebox but don't want to get too deep at first.
TapTheForwardAssist fucked around with this message at Jun 10, 2011 around 03:50
|# ¿ Jun 9, 2011 23:37|
Black Griffon posted:
Bill Bailey is the main reason I love weird instruments.
I'd try checking the NMD:ML goon thread on Bluegrass music: http://forums.somethingawful.com/sh...hreadid=3385681
I know there are tons of relatively cheap fiddles (mostly Chinese, and some Eastern European) available online, but I'm not familiar with which brands. I'd ask there, and also do some basic Google research. If you can find a mention of a reputable brand, you can't go too wrong. Though I would also weigh the costs of getting a used semi-okay instrument online vice a new cheapie. There are just so many zillion violins on the market, you can't help but find a good deal on a decent Czech or something make somewhere. Heck, I'd even check whatever your Craigslist equivalent in Norway is.
Though speaking of Norway and fiddles, if you ever do get serious about fiddle you owe it to yourself to save up for one of these:
Hardanger fiddle: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hardanger_fiddle
Basically, a violin with open-tuned strings, a slightly flatter bridge for bowing multiple strings, and four extra sympathetic strings which are not stroked with the bow, but just vibrate due to the vibrating air around them, giving these resonant effect.
Do note: if you happen to buy a relatively sturdy cheapie fiddle, and are willing to butcher it, there are some folks who have had musical success (if not aesthetic) converting cheap fiddles to Hardangers. Here is one such fellow, who's a mad genius of musical experiments: http://dennishavlena.com/hardangr.htm
And dang, here's another one with some great pics: http://feedbacksolo.wordpress.com/
That settles it: get a cheap fiddle, prioritising getting one that's not Chinese, and ideally rather over-built and clunky (to give you more meat for conversion). Play it for 6-12mo or so, and if you like it then convert it. I would also recommend that, even if you get a normal fiddle, that you consider swapping out the classical strings for Norwegian folk-strings which are made to accommodate alternate tunings. Everyone plays the drat fiddle GDAE, so even if you don't intend to play purely Norwegian, try some alternate Norwegian tunings even if you're playing Irish or whatever, give yourself some cultural distinction.
Sorry, shouldn't type when I'm feeling tired. I'd be looking for something to just kick back and play with, not really looking for jam session with folks nor am I anything close to a singer/song writer, just kinda looking for a new hobby on a simple instrument. Price wise $100 or below is good but there's some flexability in that.
Okay, still a little vague, but we're getting more of an idea. Do you have a particular style of music you're interested in learning? Or a specific kind you like to listen to and would enjoy playing, and/or kick back on the couch and play along with your stereo (a really overlooked way to practice)? Clue us in on those, and it'd help.
Given low price, easy to learn, and past but not much recent musical experience, I have a few ideas, most of which are mentioned above. For dicking-around music, particularly if you don't sing, you probably want something a bit more melodic, as doing backing chords along with nothing is a little monotonous.
Most of the easier string instruments are more used for chording backup, at least at the earlier levels, with dulcimer being a major exception (and cheap!). Maybe check out the dulcimer clips and stuff I posted above, bounce link-to-link on YouTube and see if it grabs you.
Other than strings, a lot of wind instruments are pretty inexpensive, easy to just pick up and noodle with, and they're melodic so you can do more of playing familiar melodies by ear, or playing a harmonising line along with your stereo. Of the above winds, I would most strongly suggest tinwhistle, as it's extremely inexpensive, durable, and has a less-mellow sound that's more aggressive. If you happen to like Irish/Scottish music, question answered, positively get a tinwhistle. And even if you don't, still a good option. The basics are very easy to learn, and there are still plenty of ways to keep it challenging. Plus, seriously, under $10.
If you want something even easier than tinwhistle, basically impossible to sound bad on, but a little bit quieter/mellow, consider Native American flute. They're a little pricier than tinwhistles (everything is), but we can still get you in for probably $50-60 on a decent one. It's not generally ideal for specifically saying "I want to play along with this Modest Mouse song", but for just zoning out and improvising on a very forgiving instrument that it's really easy to sound good on, NAF is a great option.
If you like blues or country, we can talk harmonica, but maybe you've already thought about that. A good mouth-harp is about $20-30, lots of learning materials online.
So there are four options. If you dig any of those, or don't like any of them, post back with some details.
Attention graphics goons: I'm dead-set on getting goons to play music, and I'm an actual adult with a job. I need a banner ad, to advertise this thread. If you can design a banner for me, and I choose yours to purchase on SA, I will either buy you the avatar of your choice, archives/plat, or inflict the avatar of choice on your enemy.
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Suggested texts: "Don't let your summer slip away..." "Now is the time to learn a weird instrument" "See our A/T thread to learn about learning: dulcimer, tinwhistle, ocarnia, theremin, autoharp, and various bagpipes"
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TapTheForwardAssist fucked around with this message at Jun 11, 2011 around 01:22
|# ¿ Jun 11, 2011 01:10|
Exploding Barrel posted:
I always have wondered about playing the harmonica but it always seemed like a difficult instrument to me for some reason, so I'd love to hear your opinions on it. I'm probably going to scout the local music store for a tin whistle as it seems my best option for a gently caress around instrument as well.
I really don't know much about harmonica; I've messed with it some, but mostly the folk "straight harp" styles, so really don't know the "cross harp" blues styles. If you're really big into blues or country, I'd say just get a harmonica anyway and use online tutorials to learn.
However, if you're more interested in playing melodies (and particularly if Celtic stuff appeals to you) you can't beat tinwhistle.
So far as choosing a cheapie, check out: Chiff & Fipple's Guide to Inexpensive Whistles. There are just a few lovely makes of whistle out there, which is baffling because even decent ones are ultra-cheap. I want to say that the Schylling or First Act I bought at some kids' toy store sucked (and was made, bafflingly, of steel), and the Cooper I bought at a museum giftshop was pretty lame.
Depending what brands you run across, I've had good experiences with Soodlum, Oak, Feadog, which are all pretty much like Generation but maybe a bit better fipple (mouthpiece) design and QC. Waltons are a bit odd since they're very lightweight (aluminum) and a bit more fragile, but played well. Clarkes are good but very different, very breathy/soft, and the most fragile since they're a conical design that's more crushable, so don't just toss a Clarke in a backpack (like a certain girlfriend once did).
Get one in D, hands down. Once you get it, start at Chiff & Fipple for info and forums, and start following the trail of tons of free educational materials. Once you learn the basics, if you do have an interest in Irish and Scottish there are tons of sheet music online. As in "more songs than you could ever possibly learn." And if Celtic isn't your thing, you can still sound good playing whatever, though I would advise you pick up a few extra cheapies in alternate keys as you go along.
The single most important thing when starting out on 'whistle is breath control. Varying breath pressure bumps you into higher ranges, so spend a little time at the beginning playing in the lowest parts of the scale, where you blow as softly as possible to still get a note. Don't let initial squawks or octave-jumping throw you; it's very easily fixed with a little steadying of the breath, and once you get used to the breath nuances they'll be totally second nature.
For upcoming instrument intros, anyone have a strong preference between Celtic harps and autoharps? I'll try to cover the hurdy-gurdy in the next day or so as well. Before anyone gets their hopes too high, they're kinda pricey and take a lot of maintenance/tweaking. But they are pretty awesome.
Clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZJTn...feature=related (Page/Plant of Led Zeppelin, with a 'gurdy on Gallows Pole)
|# ¿ Jun 11, 2011 02:23|
Xiahou Dun posted:
Just checked with my girl who plays fiddle : cheap fiddles are really, really awful. If you have a buddy who plays, you might be able to find some wheat amongst the chaff, though.
That is one bright spot: it's way easier to ask some friends "hey, does anyone play violin and can come with me to the pawnshop to find an okay cheapie?" than it is to do the same for, say, an Indian sarangi or an early 20th C. American dolceola.
I played violin/viola/fiddle for quite a while back when I was younger, but that was before I was involved in buying lots of music gear, swapping stuff, pawnshop hunting, etc. By all means, do a little internet research about the advisability of buying cheap, how cheap, how to get a decent deal on a non-lovely fiddle, etc.
I still vote you get something moderately-priced and hack it into a hardanger though. It's your duty as a Norwegian.
|# ¿ Jun 11, 2011 03:26|
Exploding Barrel posted:
Well, I picked up a Feadog whistle in D and a Hohner harmonica today. Really need to work on my breath control for the whistle or all I'm going to do is scare my cats at this rate.
Oh yeah. One suggestion: get in position, with all your fingers closed, and just breathe as soft as you possibly can into the whistle. Increase pressure slightly, slightly, until you start to get a tone, and then a nice even D tone. If you start to sharpen or leap/shriek, back off a bit. I'd try to spend a few minutes at a stretch, several times throughout the day, just trying to get a nice even tone at the very lowest note. Once you have that down, you do just the lowest D, and then raise one finger to get the lowest E. Over a couple days, and again several times per day, just keep doing that.
Not that you need to do nothing but scales for weeks or anything, but for at least a few days try to just pick it up for three minutes, work on getting a perfectly smooth note, set it down, and pick it up again next time you walk by it an hour later.
Do you know any more about them? I'm going to try to get one, but Chairman Mao is a complete bitch about letting foreigners into Tibet.
No idea, but if you're in a city of any size, perhaps there's a Tibetan diaspora population? Try asking a few folks if there's a certain part of town where the Tibetans hang out, or any Tibetan restaurants, temples, clubs etc. where you can go and ask some folks about where to find such a thing.
There are some smaller Tibetan horns too, so if you can't get a huge one, maybe a smaller?
TapTheForwardAssist fucked around with this message at Jun 12, 2011 around 00:35
|# ¿ Jun 12, 2011 00:20|
I can ask questions about the erhu, if anyone's interested.
Awesome addition! Back when we had the shamisen question, I was wondering if we had an erhu player (just in terms of how they're vaguley of similar construction). If you have interest, it could be cool to have a post on it in the above format: name, description, how hard/easy, cost/availability, why it's cool to play and what you do with it, pics, videos.
I was talking to my cousin today, and she'd just seen Arcade Fire play and was stoked about the hurdy-gurdy. So with that, and since it's been asked above, and because it's a topic of perennial goon interest:
First confusion to address: the "hurdy-gurdy" as in "wheel fiddle", as in "Arcade Fire", as in "medieval music" is absolutely NOT the same thing as "hurdy-gurdy" in terms of "oversized music box", "organ-grinder", "Italian dude playing for coins with a little monkey holding out a cup", etc. Long etymology story, but suffice to say two totally different instruments:
This is what we're talking about :
The hurdy-gurdy is a string instrument wherein a crank turns a wheel, and the wheels spins, rubbing a number of strings and acting as a perpetual violin bow. One or more of the strings are "fingered" via a series of push-buttons which push into the string and raise its pitch, while other strings are left to be simply bowed as a constant drone. So like the dulcimer it's a "string bagpipe" but endlessly bowed by a wheel.
It's first clearly attested in a big carving in Spain around 1100 or so, showing a two-man box. Nerd that I am, when I was backpacking in Galicia I absolutely had to go see this in person:
The instrument spread throughout most of Europe, generally as a peasant instrument, though in areas like France it was adopted by the aristocracy and made hoity-toity when a fad for pretending to be hicks and play shepherd instruments came into vogue. Pretty much the 17th Century French equivalent of wearing trucker hats and drinking PBR.
In the modern day, the hurdy-gurdy is used for various types of traditional music across Europe, as far east as Russia. A few folks also play very primitive versions of it (the symphony or chifonie) for Early Music. In the USA, it's primarily associated with traditional French folk music, and with backing up English folk-ballads.
From what I understand, it's relatively easy to play simply, and you can add fancier stuff as skill builds. However, they are somewhat finnicky, with various moving parts and close alignments, so it's not something you just chuck in the corner, haul out a month later, play for five minutes, and set down. If you want to get into gurdy, you want to me ready to take some care of it and learn a lot of little tricks to keep it running smooth.
Pricewise, as you may guess they're not cheap. They're a very small market, take a lot of skills and time to build, as well as a lot of start-up costs. The main folks in the US making them are some nice folks I've known personally, Alden and Cali Hackmann up by Seattle. Their base models start at $2500, and they're busy enough making the stock models that they've stopped doing custom for a while. If you're serious about gurdy, and have $2500, check them out at their info-filled website: http://www.hurdygurdy.com/
I will caveat that there are a variety of makers in Europe, but a lot of them don't seem easily accessible to English speakers. I'd presume there are a decent number in Eastern Europe, but they don't seem to be clearly linked into the larger scene, so I don't know how you'd go about trying to find a bargain deal on a small Hungarian gurdy, etc. EDIT: Some of these guys are up online now, see below link for some makers in the $800-1500 range.
As noted many times in this thread: do not buy the first "bargain" gurdy you see on eBay. It will likely suck, and you'll have blown money you could be saving for a good one. Don't buy a gurdy unless someone who knows gurdys gives you objective advice.
Hurdy gurdy is a complex topic, and I only know it indirectly, so if you want more info, I'd hit up this forum: http://www.gurdy.co.uk/forum/index.php
*http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_DX08nQows0 Cool dark Russian playing
*http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jDAqO4cA_Y0 Ritchie Blackamore (formerly of Deep Purple)
*http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oZKQf-JIvRU Matthias Loibner, a drat genius (though he is using some effects pedal trickery)
TapTheForwardAssist fucked around with this message at Mar 23, 2013 around 21:56
|# ¿ Jun 12, 2011 02:05|
Right, then, I'll do the best I can.
Looking at some clips, it can sound relatively similar to the fiddle. Got any comments on what aspects of playing it differ from fiddling, what new perspectives/angles it gives you? What kind of music do you play on yours?
|# ¿ Jun 12, 2011 13:14|
So what's the best of the under $10 tin whistles? Also, the forum linked doesn't have a tin whistle section...where should I be looking for help with that?
??? It's the very first subforum in the main section: http://forums.chiffandfipple.com/vi...5b32b761e52e953 100% whistle-talk, all the time.
Mradyfist might have his/her own opinion as to the best $10 cheapie, but I'd say either Soodlum or Feadog for the cylindrical style, or Clark for the (breathier, softer) conical style. In all cases, get one in D unless you have a clearcut reason to get a C.
For the ocarina, I did do a decent bit of Googling to find those two brand recommendations, so just do a search for that name, read the mentions in musician forums, and I think you'll find the word on the street is quite positive. That's why I'd mentioned the whole "get a brand with good rep" since there's no point getting a $9 no-name when a $13 Brand Y is recommended across numerous forums.
Anyone know where you can pick up a Cardboard Dulcimer in the UK? I've google'd it to high heaven but not found anything. The site linked to in the OP is charging ~$100 for delivery :/
I don't, though you might check Everything Dulcimer and post a question thread with a nice explicit title on this issue.
Alternately, you could either get or make a one-piece dulcimer fretboard, glue it onto a sturdy box of appropriate size (curtain-rod box?), and that'd work about as well. All the weight-bearing etc. is on the fingerboard in that sort of model. You might be able to get some local English luthier to make you just a fingerboard awfully cheaply, or if you're handy you can buy literally just a piece of wood, glue on a template (which you can print off online or buy) that'll show you where to make some hacksaw cuts for the frets, pound them in, and add tuners. In any case, something like this as a result:
Note this guy just made a basic fingerboard, and glued it to some cigar boxes. Note the fingerboard is literally just a piece of wood with a couple basic cutouts, guitar tuners, nut/bridge, and frets. If you have any woodworking skill it should be no problem, or if you can find a hobbyist luthier in your town, he can probably knock one out in a few hours, and you can affix it to any resonant box to amplify the sound. Dulcimers are pretty crude (but effective) so don't be afraid to improvise.
Again, a good question thread at Everything Dulcimer can probably set you up to acquire a fingerboard and start improvising.
I have a wooden lap harp I'm willing to part with. It sounds very much like a dulcimer, but it is a little more basic. You can pluck it and even change the tuning to suit your needs.
Not to cock-block your sale, but "lap harp" is used for two totally different things. Of the two pics below, I assume yours is like the upper:
If the upper, just note that there a ton of cheap Russian lap harps/psalteries/zithers of this type (though the pic is a nicer expensive model of the same thing), so if yours is a cheapie they don't sell for much. Also, though they're not necessarily bad instruments, I have trouble getting excited about them, but if anyone's interested in getting one, definitely cruise around YouTube looking up "lap harp" or "zither" and see if you like what you hear.
Clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Zbd...feature=related Finnish tune on an inexpensive lap harp. I just like the actual Finnish kantele (first post) more.
For folk interested in the upright/Celtic lap harp, here's what little I know. I've dicked around with them, but nothing serious (I play Anglo-Saxon lyre instead, more on that if anyone is interested).
There are, like most instruments mentioned above, lovely Pakistani ones floating around eBay, but the main inexpensive but reputable maker of Celtic harps in the US appears to be Harpsicle. List price $399, whereas a Dusty Strings small harp of similar type is a $695 (though admittedly a very nice harp).
I've read up various harp forums, and the general agreement is that of the various <$500 harps, Harpsicle is one of the only ones worth recommending. I've noticed that the few people advising against Harpsicle aren't so much against the make, as objecting to buying something other than "a floor-length harp with a bunch of strings and sharping levers", or in some cases, basically implying "what you really want is a massive Classical pedal-harp"
Speaking not as a harpist, but as a general musician, I kind of object to that perspective. While a 26-string with no sharping levers (or some levers) is less versatile and impressive than the huge harps, an affordable but sturdy harp with good sound that fits in the lap isn't necessarily an inferior choice. Hell, a lot of the history of the harp has been made on lap-sized harps with no sharping levers, and folks got by for centuries with that. If you want to play folk music, or improvised/artsy modern stuff, a Harpsicle is probably a good first instrument. Not great for jazz or classical, but plenty good for getting started on Celtic, etc, and at a price point most noobs can save up to.
Definitely do your research to make sure that a small harp is good for your purposes, but do know that there are some affordable, simple options.
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uUYTPDeJ3Pk Dude doing some awesome stuff in alternate tunings on a harpsicle
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SGfsoX0fT4g Girl playing Renaissance music on a harpsicle
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dFV8gHFvQ4M An Irish tune on a Dusty Strings entry-level harp
TapTheForwardAssist fucked around with this message at Jun 13, 2011 around 01:44
|# ¿ Jun 13, 2011 01:25|
What's the recommended option between cylindrical and conical? Do you have any good videos I could compare the two in?
I find the wooden ones have a softer, more recorder-like sound. The metal ones are definitely more traditional, and metal ones don't vary much by sound, mostly by body shape, bore size, but primarily from the constructions of the mouthpiece.
So far as comparison, the Clarke certainly feels a bit different from the cylindrical when you play, but the sound difference is pretty subtle:
Note the cylindrical are a just a little bit of a sharper/edgier tone, and the conical (Clarke) a bit wispier and more mellow.
If you don't hear a difference, or it doesn't matter much to you, get a cyindrical because they can take more abuse. It's possible to dent them if you try hard enough (or on the very light aluminum whistles), or crack the mouthpiece, but I often chuck a cheap cylindrical into my backpack, car glovebox, etc. and don't sweat it, while a conical can be crushed if you slam it in a door or something. Don't let that stop you from getting a conical, just don't do crazy negligent/abusive stuff with a conical, like hitting someone over the head with it.
EDIT: Here's a side-by side clip, though the guy's technique is a bit rough: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=agOB9K2KSP0&NR=1
And here's a whole clip of just 'whistle comparisons: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Z4P...feature=related
TapTheForwardAssist fucked around with this message at Jun 13, 2011 around 02:16
|# ¿ Jun 13, 2011 02:12|
Gumby Orgy posted:
I was thinking about getting a melodica, kalimba, and an array mbira and starting a hipster band.
I have a friend who plays the Marimba, he says it's quite hard, and he's practiced for several years. He's a bit of a musical genius though, and the best drummer I've ever met personally.
Marimba =/ mbira
A "marimba" is a wooden xylophone from Central America. An "mbira" or "thumb piano" is an African instrument with tuned metal tines which are plucked with the fingers.
The "array mbira" is one particular modern-design custom mbira that's simply huge (3-5 octaves). There's one maker, and he makes lovely but expensive instruments, like $1200. I don't know if there are any good alternatives that are of similar size/type.
However, there are many good makes of kalimba/mbira/thumb-piano. I think you can find pretty good ones around $40 or so if you shop around. I bought my da a nice but pricey one from Kalimba Magic, and the folks there seem pretty serious about carrying good stuff. I'd just shop around designs you like, and then google to see if they have a good rep, good demos on YouTube, etc.
A few mbira clips:
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fb9qoEHLgVo African musician playing something modern
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zo2g4ibGaNI Bach and some Gminor improv on a larger kalimba
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5fAAGheYTFA Jazz improv on a real, expensive, array mbira
|# ¿ Jun 13, 2011 03:14|
Gumby Orgy posted:
I'm not talking about just a mbira, I'm talking about an array mbira.
Hey, if you got $1500 burning a hole in your pocket, don't let me slow you down. I'm just saying that if you're into the array mbira and don't have much experience in that kind of thing, buying a decent mbira (which you could always retune to be a smaller version of the array system) is probably a good way to get a feel for the instrument.
If I want to play Kwela as well as Irish stuff, is D still the best key to get it in?
Since Mradyfist is the house expert, I'll defer here, though personally I just am not warm-fuzzy about Susato. No real problem with them, I just find the tone too "clean". Agree though that a D is all-around just the easiest way to start, and that's what 95% of online instruction is recorded in. Though if you have a spare $10, it wouldn't hurt to buy a Bb at the same time. Down the road, if you want a nicer, tunable Kwela Bb, take a look at South African whistlesmith Ian Turnbull of iMpepe Whistles. I'm thinking to order a Bb and a soprano F from him, both because his whistles are described as being great for the price ($60ish) and because it's be cool to have a Souf Effriken 'whistle.
Oh, and Mradyfist, I'm blaming you for the used Kerry Low D and Elfsong A I picked up off forums sales yesterday. That Tully looks awesome though, lucky cat. Also, I updated the OP to reflect your comment that Oak/Feadog/Soodlum are better buys in a D, though mentioned that Generation is the only real choice for Bb, F, etc.
How about comparing it to a de gamba, then, if you can?
Minor detour, but if you're interested in odd bowed strings, I can kick off an instrument family I've been meaning to cover. Not sure how many goons will be into this, but they're pretty inexpensive, extremely easy to build (I built a 2-string of scrap wood and tuners in an hour or two), and pretty awesome.
These have been seen throughout the Middle Ages, but died out in most of Europe. These days, mainly experiencing small revivals in Wales, and Scandinavia and the Baltic.
Most of these (except for the crwth) have no fingerboard or anything, the strings are fingered by pressing the back of the fingers against the string in mid-air, changing the pitch. This is actually not too uncommon of a method for bowed strings, being used also on the Balkan gadulka and other such fiddles.
These are pretty slick, not too expensive, and really easy to make. Except the crwth is a bit harder/pricier because of that fingerboard. They have a really distinct and haunting sound, so maybe an axe that Xiahou Dun may consider selling his girl on, or learning to show her up.
Cool articles on jouhikko in the Lord of the Rings stage show.
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rZPK...feature=related Pekko Kappi doing some awesome singing backed up by jouhikko
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xm5j...feature=related Swedish haling on talharpa
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RTQGXIu5QHA David Sedayne (on crwth) is a drat lunatic. Though he seems the musical equivalent of some guy handing out pamphlets full of aphasia about lizard people, contrails, and LSD in the water, his music is quite compelling.
TapTheForwardAssist fucked around with this message at Mar 11, 2012 around 02:05
|# ¿ Jun 14, 2011 00:12|
Gumby Orgy posted:
I don't have 1500 dollars burning a hole, but my anniversary is coming up!
Kalimba, mbira, sansula, and dozens of other names pretty much refer to what we call a "thumb piano". There may be some minor variations between certain types, but they're all basically the same. If you want a kalimba with the most similarity to an array mbira, you could buy a good quality, very large kalimba. Also, if you get a model where the tines are easily removable, you could read up on the array mbira arrangement and set up your times in an imitative manner. There are probably some World Percussion forums where you can ask about that, and/or you can email the owner of Kalimba Magic (who seems very into such things) and ask his advice.
I was dimly aware that there was some instrument out there kind of similar to an array mbira in size (if not complexity), and finally the word "rumba box" jumped to my memory. More formally called a marνmbula.
There are various of these, of various complexities/ranges in the $300ish range online. Schlagwerk seems to make some pretty cool ones (24"x8"x16") that are 245, and they have a US importer (no idea of markup).
JBH Guitars also builds a wide variety of sizes and arrangements.
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eqnBgfGC0sg JBH Guitars demo
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RIEqx1_M0lc Sin dar el corazon (marimbula and voice arrangement)
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OJ_t...feature=related Schlegwerk model (not a great clip)
Edit: I play french horn. Is there some weird instrument available like it?
So glad you asked:
The serpent was originally made around 1600AD to back up church vocal music, since it had could hold up the bass end, but blended well enough with voice not to be ostentatious.
These were until recently ungodly expensive, since makers had to carve a bunch of interlocking wooden parts, channel them, wrap them in leather, etc. Then some geniuses started making them from fibreglass, and now Kaiser Serpents makes them for an eminently reasonable $635.
These are somewhat tricky to get used to, apparently, but not (as I understand it) crazy difficult. More that you have to get into a certain groove, get a real feel for the dynamics of your air column, instead of a "I blow and push X button and get an F#". So a touchy-feelier brass. However, from the results I've heard the thing sounds loving gorgeous:
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C5-_YVS9CcQ Jazz tubist Michel Godard is a drat genius and welcome to nail any of my better-looking female relatives.
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1xuxzJkuJWI Michel jamming with some Arabs
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8VbXMQRs_MM drat, but Michel is awesome
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sc4pWAIRY58 And here's a less technically awesome but nevertheless brave teenager who saved up his paper-route money, bought a serpent, and plays it in church. It's not great playing, but it's a neat illustration that even a relative noob can get into the serpent vibe.
Given the awesomeness of both these instruments, and your upcoming anniversary, now might be a great time to engage your wife in a productive dialogue along the lines of "hey honey, I was just thinking what an amazingly awesome marriage we have. And I was also thinking about how much and deeply you must love me. And on a semi-related note, I've been thinking of how my love for you is so overwhelming that it can only be expressed through music..."
TapTheForwardAssist fucked around with this message at Jun 14, 2011 around 05:06
|# ¿ Jun 14, 2011 02:22|
Gumby Orgy posted:
Also: my husband will love to know a random internet person called him my wife.
Just tell him that you're just that hardcore on the internet that people assume you're some 6'4" dude with a handlebar mustache.
So it's your husband you're mooching anniversary instruments off of? That's even easier, just work that thing and you should be serpenting in no time.
Holy poo poo. The serpent!? That is right up my alley. I have an amazing talent for being able to play scales on my french horn without pressing any keys. I'm cool with touchy-feely brass. I honestly have never heard of this instrument until reading your post. I kind of love it.
Gear. Serpent is definitely awfully cool. The guy at Kaiser Serpents is clearly a fanatic for serpents, and presumably is not exactly innundated with email, so if you're feeling the serpent urge () you can probably just write the guy with questions to figure out if serpent is right for you. If you're a girl with exceptionally small hands, you may want to ask about finger span, but I think it's actually pretty moderate on serpent due to its bizarre design; fingerholes on a serpent just aren't at normal ratios like other wind instruments, they have some more complicated relationship with the air column that I don't totally grasp.
Edit: Now I'm reading up on cornett which has led me to shawm, which now lead me to crumhorn. Such a delightful, annoying noise! Are crumhorns hard to play?
I really don't know much about crumhorns, but I'll go out on a limb and guess that they can't be that bad. They're a "capped reed instrument", so your mouth doesn't have to deal directly with the reed at all. Fingering should be pretty easy; my impression is that it's akin to the recorder, since there seems to be a high overlap between the recorder community and the crumhorn community (however many dozen people that is). I'd imagine the main issue is just breath pressure with the reed.
One thing to consider: the stretch on a crumhorn can be a long finger-reach on the larger sizes, so to accommodate that the kelhorn was invented. It's basically a crumhorn made to zig-zag inside a fat body to keep the length down:
I'd check the Crumhorn Homepage for more info. The only non-botique maker I know of off the top of my head is Susato, who makes both crumhorns and kelhorns starting a little over $300, and going up by size.
I still say the serpent is far cooler, but if you're good at batting your eyes maybe you can get him to get you both.
|# ¿ Jun 15, 2011 02:22|
Next up, an item that's come up once or twice in the ukulele thread.
The oud is an Arabic instrument dating back some long drat time, apparently some 5,000 years per Wikipedia. Wiki also notes that, per legend, it was invented by Lamech, sixth grandson of Adam (as in "and Eve"), when he hung his dead son's body from a tree, and was then inspired by his bleached skeleton. But despite having a rather shady backstory, it's a terrific-sounding instrument which is spread throughout the Middle East and North Africa, and spilling into neighboring regions. It also achieved pretty solid penetration in Europe when it came up through Spain. In Europe its bastard child is the "lute", which you may have heard of.
The oud has a very deep round-backed body which gives some impressive resonance, a rather short neck, and a bunch of (generally) doubled nylon or gut strings. Unlike the lute, and most plucked European instruments, it has no frets (the little metal bars which divide the neck into set increments). The cool thing about this is you can hit every micro-note between notes, so key for playing the various complex Arabic scales, as well as any other tradition that uses notes other than the modern Western scale. Some avant-gardey folks like it since you can get all the microtonal notes, and French musician Titi Robin uses it for the scales of traditional Breton Celtic music.
I've only messed with the oud off and on, but I will say that it's pretty different in feel from guitar. The strings are very, very low tension, and the picking style is pretty different from guitar. If you're a noob, you might want to start out on a Western instrument with frets first (unless you're really into oud specifically), since, being fretless, you have to develop an ear and feel for exactly where on the fretboard you put your fat finger to get the exact right note. But definitely a fun instrument for guitarists to transition to and get a new understanding of music through.
There is a great English forum for oud, Mike's Oud Forum. I'm no expert in the oud market, but perusing some of their noob threads, the key takeaway is that starter oud's aren't terribly expensive, but you don't want to go too cheap and get below the $400 mark. This does indicate that you shouldn't just go buy on on eBay or from your local hooka shop. Ouds are built very lightweight, and have a lot of strings on friction tuners, so if it's not built right it'll tear itself apart, and in the meantime you're going to be re-tuning every five minutes with lovely tuners.
The general advice for noobs appears to be to get a Sukar brand oud, which starts around $650. There are a few folks who say that the Gawharet is an acceptable starter oud for around $400. Do your own research on Mike's forum too, but just giving you a basic summary of the noob threads. There are also some Mike-recommended DVDs and the like teaching basic oud and Arabic scales, so there are apparently some good materials to start home study. This is pretty key, as you are drat unlikely to just figure out Arabic music on your own unless you've grown up with it.
Personally, even if you don't intend to play Arabic music on it, but just dick around doing medieval stuff, jazz, modal improv, it probably wouldn't hurt to blow $25 on a good instructional DVD and try to learn at least a few new concepts from the old tradition.
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S9tGPTYqfCs Nubian oudist Hamza el Din. This was the first guy's recordings of oud I ever heard, and it blew me away.
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=69hj...5437D2B3370D510 Iraqi monster of oud, Munir Bashir
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QcaZBNBCODk Frenchman Titi Robin uses oud to back up old-school Bretagne Celtic song. You should listen to every track from this album you can find on YouTube. Or better yet, buy the album, since the liner notes have all the lyrics and the full written music (which also indicates all the microtonal notes)
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VVEGxS2PGcA BONUS: short documentary on American Marine sniper Iraq veteran who got into oud
TapTheForwardAssist fucked around with this message at Jun 16, 2011 around 03:52
|# ¿ Jun 15, 2011 03:51|
Mradyfist: would you care to guess how many tinwhistles you forced me to buy this week?
|# ¿ Jun 16, 2011 03:56|
Just think of how many different whistle keys you don't have yet!
Let's see... I have a couple cheap Ds, a Low F, just picked up both a Low A and a Low D this week. And I just agreed to buy a 3-set of bodies for High F, High G, and High A (!). I've never even heard of a whistle as high as High A, so this will be interesting...
All this talk about whistles is seriously tempting me to buy a low F
The only Low F I have is a Susato, which I got mainly because it's one of the more affordable Low Fs, especially for having a key (for the lowest hole). I like it fine, but as mentioned above I just find Susatos to be too "clean" sounding. I think that on a low F with relatively tight finger spacing I could make it work without a key.
I just got a Kerry Low D used in the mail today, and I can sort of reach the lowest hole, but it's going to require modifying my technique, so I don't know how I feel about that.
even though I pretty much stopped playing it after I bought a Nyckelharpa last year
You have a nyckelharpa? That's loving awesome. Would you be up to writing a post vaguely after our format for this thread? Not that many folks are going to learn nyckelharpa this summer, but it's always good to have a writeup/pics/clips about anything cool.
|# ¿ Jun 17, 2011 03:19|
Grape Juice Vampire posted:
If I were to pick up one of the toy accordions mentioned on the previous page, how difficult do you suppose it would be to pick up a few simple tunes? I'm not looking to become some sort of musical genius overnight, just be able to squeeze out a few sounds that don't sound like death and be mildly entertaining at parties. Could I realistically do that over the course of two months or so?
Oh, definitely. For "sounding fun at parties", I would mainly suggest you focus not on melodies, but on being able to just play a three-chord progression. If you don't know about music, don't sweat it, you probably have a guitar friend of someone who can walk you through it.
Have you ever messed with harmonica? That's pretty much what a diatonic accordion is. In other words, buttons next to each other tend to harmonise together. So in order to play a basic three-chord progression (the basis of a good 80% of American music), you mash down three adjoining buttons and push, mash the same three and pull, then shift your fingers a couple buttons down and push again. Clearly, there are many much more complicated ways to build from there, but there's no reason you can't, in a few days, have a decent grasp of playing four or five chords, figure out a few songs that only use that few chords, and be able to back yourself up singing basic rock/country/blues songs. Melody work would be slightly more involved, but just from dicking around with it around the house you should be able to puzzle out nursery rhymes in a day or two.
So far as what to get, you want something that looks basically like this:
The colour and markings don't matter, but this exact design is made by various manufacturers: Schylling, Barcelona, Hero. Hohner makes one in this design but with translucent plastic; I don't know that they're any better, so I stick with the other brands I've tried. Don't get the kind with the piano keyboard, or the kind where the key is a bent piece of metal (though they're cooler-looking), get one that looks just about like this picture.
The slightly tricky part is the QC. Out of the box, some of these are horribly tuned, and others are totally decent for $20. There are a couple ways to make sure you get a decent one.
- If you live in a decent-sized town (not even "large") and you have a phone that's not costing you per-call, try calling a number of music stores, toy stores, childrens' educational stores. Ask them all if they have "toy accordions". If so, try and verify over the phone that it's something like in the above pic. If so, ask how many they have in stock. If they have like 6-12 of them, you should be able to show up, try them all, pick the most in-tune one, and you're golden for $20.
- Alternately, you can buy from an eBay seller, but contact the seller in advance and say "hey, I'm a musician, can you guarantee that you'll make sure the one I buy sounds like it works before you mail it?" This might be kind of iffy unless the seller has any sense of music.
- Given that each note in the scale has two reeds playing in unison, you can always play the odds and just buy one blind, and then for each double-set of reeds cover the least in-tune one with a smidgen of tape inside the instrumet, silencing it. That way you'd have a single reed per note (which sounds a little cleaner) and have eliminated the worse-sounding of each pair. Do note that these 'boxes are really drat simple, like "half-wit chimp" simple, so you can do basic repairs on these with the tools in your kitchen drawer.
- Lastly, you can just get one, and either play it a couple weeks and decide you don't like it, or if you like it and can imagine getting semi-quasi-recreationally serious about it, mail it to Irish Dancemaster, send him $100, and he'll fit it out with totally in-tune Italian reeds in the tuning/key of your choice. It'll still be cheap pine coated in plastic, and they keys aren't amazing, but they're actually relatively sturdy little boxes, and with decent reeds in them sound actually really good for $120ish out of pocket.
CLIP: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O3e7iYw7jj4 Irish Dancemaster re-reeded box, playing the melodies of Irish tunes.
If you look around YouTube, there are quite a few clips of toy accordions, only a couple of which are re-reeds. For the others, folks either got lucky, played several and picked the most in-tune, or else taped off the worst reeds.
I'm really, really overexplaining above (it's late), so don't let the level of detail throw you. The "toy accordion" is actually pretty decent, probably no worse that a lot of the cheaper accordions sold back in the day. The quality control isn't great, so you just need to be a little clever picking out a good one. But they're extremely easy to play; I wouldn't bother trying to learn to read sheet music for them, I'd just either ask someone here how to play a few basic chords, or let a decently skilled piano or guitar-playing friend dick with it for a few minutes, realise themselves how easy it is, and explain it to you.
Just to randomly pick a song most people know: Ring of Fire by Johnny Cash. Provided you get someone to explain what a chord is to you, you should be able to learn the three chords to it pretty much your first couple hours messing with it. And if you practice that for 15-20m a day for a week or two, you could probably do a pretty credible "hey guys, I'm-a do a Johnny Cash cover on my toy accordion" about two weeks into it. This ain't chess, it's checkers.
Feel free to ask any follow up questions if I've failed to painfully over-explain any of the above.
TapTheForwardAssist fucked around with this message at Jun 18, 2011 around 06:51
|# ¿ Jun 18, 2011 05:51|
Grape Juice Vampire posted:
Wow, thanks! Pretty excellent of you to go into such detail!
Not in the slightest. On your trombone comparison, the bellows are your lungs. The easiest comparison is to a harmonica. Each button opens up a little passageway that allows air (from the bellows) to flow up the channel and vibrate a given reed. Each individual note has its own (in this case doubled) reed, so when you hit the "C" button, the button pulls a wire, pulling back a small wooden cover from a doubled-channel, the air rushes up that and pushes past two little metal reeds blocking their escape to the sweet outside. As the air rushes past the reeds, it makes them vibrate. And this being a diatonic instrument, when you stop pushing on C and start pulling, little flapper valves on the outside of the C reeds get sucked inwards as well, silencing them, while the flapper valves of the D reeds sitting right next to them (which are on the inside of the body) are sucked out of the way, allowing the D reeds to vibrate. Practical upshot: press button #3 while pushing on the bellows, you get a C. Press #3 and pull, you get a D.
If the above sounds complicated, once you get your 'box just take some pliers or whatever and pull out the little pins holding it together, look inside, and it'll be really obvious how the thing works. Again, these things are really cheap and decently durable, so don't be afraid to take them apart and dick with things. Just avoid manhandling the reeds themselves, except to tape off out-of-tune ones you don't want vibrating.
Reed-block, notice the little leather flappers that only allow air to hit the reed going one way, and the reed block is the same but reversed on the inside of the block for the other reeds.
Hell, go ahead and paint or bedazzle the thing when you get it, just avoid getting paint on any moving parts/mechanisms. These are really underrated little instruments, though it does annoy me that the factory won't offer a "toy plus" model where they take 10 drat seconds to actually do the reeds right. I would happily pay $10 extra to get one where the reeds were guaranteed to be set right. Though again, if you get one and actually play it more than "haul it out once a month at a party", that's the point where $100 to re-reed it actually starts sounding really reasonable.
TapTheForwardAssist fucked around with this message at Jun 18, 2011 around 15:47
|# ¿ Jun 18, 2011 15:36|
The next instrument, and one where I ended up convincing myself to get one based on writing this thread.
Back around the late 1800s to early 1900s, there was a tremendous surge in new musical instrument designs, particularly those designed to be easy for novices to play. My understanding is that this was linked to the expansion of mail-order catalog in the US; rural folks without musical skills but a minimal amount of local entertainment were considered a growth market for "you'll be playing popular tunes in minutes!!!" innovative products. For a variety of technical reasons, zithers of all stripes were huge in this effort. Most of them were long-run failures, all kinds of freaky designs now mouldering in antique stores, hanging on the walls of restaurants, etc. Fretless Zithers.com is a great online museum of all these oddities.
Of all these zithers, the only two that really had success carrying to the modern day are the bowed psaltery (which our Norwegian goon earlier in the thread is getting), and the autoharp. The autoharp mainly gained popularity in its target market: rural white folks. Its role in Americana music was secured when it achieved nationwide attention in the ensemble The Carter Family (which June Carter Cash came out of). The Carter family kept it popularised into the start of the Folk Revival of the 1960s, and since then the instrument has maintained at least a small level of popularity.
The autoharp is actually a relatively clever concept. You have a flat box with a large number of strings covering most or all of the scale. If you strum all the way across, you get a mish-mash of notes across the spectrum. But the instrument has a series of spring-loaded bars with felt at the bottom; push down the C Major chord bar, and every note which does not fall into the Cmaj chord will be muffled by felt pads, leaving you free to strum all the way across with only the proper notes ringing out.
Unlike a lot of the "play in minutes!!!" instruments, the autoharp is genuinely easy to chord on. You push a button with your chord, strum all the way across, and there you are. If you have a decent amount of ability to move your hand in a rhythmic manner () you can probably be at the equivalent of a guitar "three chord chump" in a half-hour or so. A lot of folks just stay at that level, which is fine, but doesn't really make the most of the instrument. As you build up skill, you can do impressive amounts of melodic work with rich chords backing up the melody line, on an instrument that does a pretty drat good job covering "ethereal" and "haunting".
So far as buying one. The good-ish news is that the instrument was only decently made by one or two major makers, which produced absolutely scads of them in pretty good quality: Oscar Schmidt and Chromaharp (sometimes sold under other brand names). Also, the instrument isn't in high demand these days, so on any given day on eBay you can pick one up for $50-100. With the market being pretty full, stick to buying ones that look 1970s-ish or later, and are in good condition, ideally from a seller who has the confidence to say "I know music and the felts and bars are good", vice "I dunno, I know nothing about music buy this looks okay. A+ L@@K!!!" The main issues to watch for on used: any kind of visible structural flaws, particularly bowing or cracking of the face, is total no-go. Next major issue is the condition of the bars. If the felt on the bars is torn or missing you won't get right chords. This is not hugely difficult to fix as a DIY, but adds another step before you can get started. If you do have to disassemble an autoharp, that'd be a good time to replace all the felt, and probably put in better quality springs, etc.
If you want to be safer, you can just buy a new one; they're not at all expensive even new for an OS or a CH. There's a good Facebook article here Choosing an Autoharp. It's pretty conservative in adamantly supporting buying properly-refurbished used, or a new one that's been "set up" by a knowledgeable seller. Apparently the difference between a $230 new 'harp that they just ship from the factory, and a $280 'harp that's been adjusted, tweaked, QC'ed, is well-worth the $50. If you have the cash and are serious about learning, you probably want to buy new from a seller who specifically details the extra tweaking they do on the new harps they sell. If your budget is more like $75, watch eBay and be picky about what you bid on, and be prepared to have to put in a little unskilled labour informed by the internet.
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dgVDqXVK_dQ A good example of really basic chord playing. Not offered due to massive quality, but because this is a good example of where a noob can be at a few weeks in.
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ze21Z6M53Wo More basic chording, but pretty catchy Misfits cover
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TyxL...feature=related In contrast to the above, Bryan Bowers, probably the most famous autoharpist since the Carter Family. Oddly enough, best known for an acapella piece he did that was popularised by Dr Demento: The Scotsman, the song about two chicks looking up a drunk guy's kilt. In any case, the guy does really awesome melodic work on the autoharp. What he's doing in this clip is, I believe, moderate intermediate, so nothing that a goon couldn't be doing a year down the road.
So far as websites and whatnot, the autoharp community seems to be one of those with a more sporadic internet grip. Their main discussions are on mailing list vice forum (I hate it when musicians do that), so I'd mainly check in with them there: Autoharp mailing list, and its parent page autoharp.org. Again, relatively small and friendly community, so should be able to set you straight. There is also, somewhat unusually, a pretty active Facebook discussion page for autoharp.
All in all, a relatively easy instrument to at least sound basically decent on, a very distinct sound, and available quite affordably. In the last week, I went on eBay and bought one tiny kid-sized one for a buddy's toddler, and one tricked out diatonic 'harp for myself for $80ish.
|# ¿ Jun 19, 2011 19:13|
Doc Faustus posted:
TTFA (or whoever), tell me about buying and learning the Balalaika!
No worries. I couldn't find any goon players on Google, so here's my best shot based on dicking around with them in shops, and some internet research.
The balalaika is a traditional Russian instrument. Skinny neck with three strings, and a triangular body with a roundish back. There are various legendary histories about where it came from, but I'm inclined to believe that, like a lot of Russian culture, it has a Central Asian background: "if you scratch a Russian, you find a Tartar."
Balalaika come in a variety of sizes, which put together make up a "balalaika orchestra". But for the purposes of this post, we'll refer to the prima size, the most common version, and also used as a solo instrument. The balalaika is traditionally tuned EEA, though some tuned it GBD to make it easier for guitar players to cross over. Compared to similar instruments, the balalaika is unusual because the left thumb is also used to fret notes, and the prima is usually played with the fingers instead of a pick.
So far as buying a balalaika, this is one of those instruments where there's a bunch of miscellaneous junk floating around. Balalaikas weren't really formally exported en masse to the US, so much as they were an obligatory souvenir for anyone who went anywhere near Russia throughout the Cold War. They're not terribly uncommon to find old 1970s ones in weird music stores, occasional pawnshop, and plenty on eBay.
Like many things, this is one where the serious folks say not to cheap out and buy a piece of poo poo. I'm in general agreeance with that, but, as noted for other instruments, sometimes you just want to risk $50 on a potential piece of poo poo just to figure out if you like something without sinking in too much cash. There is one legit-looking place that has Chinese-made balalaikas at $275, as student alternatives to their $1000+ Russian handmade ones. If your budget is more like $500+, you probably want to do check some of the links at the bottom and start doing some digging.
If you fall into the category of "I want to buy one for $50 just to dick with for a bit", I'd get yourself to eBay. I'd buy one that's pretty plain wood (less likely to be a decorative souvenir) and not pay more than $60-100 including shipping; note that some are like $30 shipping, so that's a huge factor. A balalaika is relatively simple, so the main things that could be wrong are lovely tuners (easy to swap out and replace), warped/bent neck (will really cramp your style, but can be partially suffered through for a week or two of practice), and just general lovely build that's unstable. Do note, if you buy one used, get new strings for it, and also note that the bridge (which is movable) might be out of position, so either ask me here how to fix that, or read up online for any instructions about emplacing mandolin/banjo floating bridges; same concepts apply.
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gcx0...feature=related Awesome tutorial on playing Коробейники (the Tetris theme song). This guy is the one with the website, below. And unlike a lot of YouTube clips which are just dudes strumming guitar-style, this guy is doing actual balalaika technique.
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pczm...feature=related Some virtuosic stuff by a modern Russian dude who's apparently really into it
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OrI0Cw0QKAE Some hipster playing the balalaika guitar-style. Apparently too many playing ukulele for it to be hip. Not really a trad clip, but not a bad example of what you can do with balalaika despite now knowing any Russian stuff.
So far as sites, note that a variety of American cities with Russian population have balalaika associations; there's also the Balalaika and Domra Association of America, which may be a good place to start meeting people, ask if anyone has a decent student axe to sell, etc. The dude in the tutorial above is Alex Sinavski, who runs iBalalaika; he does charge for some of his material, but seeing the quality of his material I'd say it's worth buying if you're serious about learning actual Russian technique.
Overall, an basic instrument that can do a lot of intricate work. Lots of cheapies on the market, but considering you can get some of them for $50-100, might be worth the risk. Ideally, check Craiglist or local used-guitar stores, bring along a guitar-playing friend to judge the action height, etc. But eBay is always an option, and $40 is the kind of money folks spend on cheap starter ukuleles anyway.
TapTheForwardAssist fucked around with this message at Jun 22, 2011 around 03:53
|# ¿ Jun 20, 2011 03:20|
Will do more on udu later, but for the moment just note that there is a company (Meinl) making fibreglass udus in the mid $100 range, in case folks want one but are concerned about having fragile, expensive ceramics.
EDIT: there's a Meinl Tri Tone udu (the one that has the extra mini-drumhead on the side) for $111 with free shipping on Ebay, so about $50 cheaper than the usual: http://cgi.ebay.com/Meinl-Fiberglas...=item3cb940b954
I just wanted to chime in that this thread finally made me pull the trigger on getting a musical instrument (NA Flute). The only experience I've ever had was playing the sax way back in elementary school so I am drat exited and my fiancee has ordered a box of earplugs.
I can't believe we've gone this far in the thread without getting into detail on the Native American flute. I'll have to fix that in the next few days.
I reckon your girlfriend is over-concerned; NAF is a pretty drat mellow instrument. Just make sure to start out practicing just getting a consistent tone with all fingerholes covered. Don't just start huffing into it; blow as softly as possible, and then increase slightly-slightly until you get a consistent low-note.
It's a common beginner mistake (especially on tinwhistle) to blow as hard as possible, wiggle your fingers aimlessly, and then wonder why it sounds like a cat being violated. Instead just try to get the lowest notes right in the lowest register, and then add note by note until you can go smoothly up the scale with a solid tone.
First things first: scope your poo poo. Do you have the instrument in your possession? Just as is, check it all over for any splits, separations, cracks, etc. Especially check load-bearing areas, like where the peghead meets the neck, the neck meets the body, where the strings secure at the butt-end, and check the soundboard (face) carefully for bad cracks.
Next, any missing parts? Does it currently have three strings on it, and three tuning pegs at the top of the neck to tune it. Most importantly (and losably) does is still have the "bridge", a wedge-shaped piece that sits below the soundhole and holds the strings up like a bridge support:
If it doesn't have a bridge, that'll take some minor solving, and the next steps will make no sense without it.
Next, try to tighten up the strings, at least partially. The point is not to be in tune, the point is to check the action and see if the instrument gets squirrely under pressure. Assuming the three strings are relatively loose, tighten them up (alternate between them every couple twists, to try to keep the pressure of all three relatively even). Tune them each until you can still wiggle each one about a quarter-inch side to side without difficult, but not so tight that it starts feeling really firm.
Now, look at the instrument from the side, so that all three strings are lined up in your vision so they look like one strings. Does the neck have severe bow to it, or just a little bit? Next, get some random small change (US or otherwise). Without pressing the string down or up at all, see what coins you can slide in between the fret (raised brass bars that go across the neck) and the string. As in, coins are in a stack and balanced on the middle of the fret, and just scrape but do not press upward the string. Do this on the 7th fret, and on the 12th, and let us know how many coins (of what mixture) can fit. The reason for this is to see if the strings are way too high, or are at a playable height.
The above is basically how to do a checkup on an instrument, but described in a way that hopefully a non-musical person can walk through and feel comfortable with. If any questions, check back in here. Otherwise, let us know what you find out.
If you don't have the instrument on hand at the moment, no problem, I can answer the rest of your question about learning.
I can expand at length as needed, but long-short, it depends on how you want to play it.
-If you want to play it just strumming it guitar-style (like the hipster in the clip I posted), this will be really drat easy. About as easy as the ukulele, and scores of goons in that thread have learned uke with no music background.
-If you want to play proper balalaika, check out anything you can find on YouTube with "balalaika tutorial" to get a taste for it, and that one dude's website. Those probably start at a certain minimum level of skill, but we can start you out here learning just the basics of how to play chords and notes to ease you into it. EDIT: this link is really comprehensive: Kaikracht.de balalaika school.
I have recently come into a second-hand accordion, of the many-button and piano key type. Does anyone know of any good online resources for learning? I don't want to get super good at it, just enough to plonk out a couple of songs for yuks at parties.
I probably know less about piano accordion that any other accordion type, but on the bright side the odds are highest that we have a few goons who play accordion. Do you have archives to check on that and see if you can PM any of them to the thread?
Do you have any previous musical background? Again, no expert, but piano accordion seems one of the least "tricky" kinds to learn; it has a lot of stuff going on, but it's basically a piano with a bunch of chord/bass buttons, so if you have any kind of musical background I'd say you have a fair chance of teaching yourself. Any luck finding YouTube tutorials or anything? EDIT: google "piano accordion tutorial", there are several good clips, an ehow, a knol, etc. on the first page. That should give you a decent start.
How many piano keys (white and black) and how many left-hand buttons (not counting the air button)? Once you know how many bass/chord buttons, you should be able to find an online diagram of what your chords/bass are, and print it out for reference.
EDIT: A few points on accordion maintenance, which apply to anyone obtaining an accordion or concertina.
DO NOT try moving the bellows without holding down a button of some sort (the air button is good). The buttons are what direct the rush of air, and if you push/pull the bellows with no button held down, the air has nowhere to go, and will start trying to force gaps through the bellows seal, which is bad.
The one exception to this, since you have a used 'box in unknown condition: use the air button to open the bellows part-way. Now gently push very slightly to see if the bellows are airtight, or if you have a major air-leak in the bellows. I mean like try pushing a half-inch or so, and stop even before that if the bellows put up any resistance. If they close very easily, push a little harder; worst case scenario is the bellows put up no resistance to closing a couple inches. If that's the case, you'll want to track down that leak. Have a friend get a hand damp (to better feel rushing air), open the bellows all the way (with the air button) and close them with no buttons engaged, and have him run his hand over (not touching) all points of the bellows, by the air vents, etc. to try and feel the leak. Only do that if you have significant leaking (as in no resistance at all from the bellows to being closed with no buttons engaged). If you have a major leak, google "accordion bellows repair" for ideas on how to patch it. Otherwise, just count it as "tight enough" and from then on always have a button engaged while moving the bellows. You should have button-snaps that keep the accordion closed; make sure you always close those when not playing so that you or a dumb friend don't pick up one end of the accordion and leave the other half dangling by the bellows.
In the meantime, I suggest you just dick around with your accordion to get a feel for it. Try feeling out melodies on the piano keyboard, and separately try to have some fun alternating between several good-sounding chords on the left hand. I'll try and go dig up more info on where you can find more professional instructions.
TapTheForwardAssist fucked around with this message at Jun 25, 2011 around 23:50
|# ¿ Jun 22, 2011 03:04|
Angra Mainyu posted:
I just wanted to chime in that this thread finally made me pull the trigger on getting a musical instrument (NA Flute). The only experience I've ever had was playing the sax way back in elementary school so I am drat exited and my fiancee has ordered a box of earplugs.
Now is as good a time as any.
Native American Flute
The Native American flute (NAF) is somewhat of an amalgamation of various American Indian influences, introduced European ideas, etc. Suffice to say, it's pretty hard to nail down the real history of it, and it's tangled up with a bunch of pseudo-history, legend, wishful thinking, etc. But long story short, they're generally wooden flutes, with a fipple (mouthpiece that directs air onto a blade, like a tinwhistle), and vaguely associated with some designs from the Plains Indians like the Lakota. They're generally tuned in a distinct scale, a "pentatonic minor", so the number of familiar American pop-music tunes you'll be able to play is limited, but on the bright side most things you play will sound really interesting since it's hard to mess up a pentatonic scale.
These are basically about as easy to play as tinwhistle, maybe easier since the design is harder to mess up the blowing pressure due to its double-chamber airflow, and less danger of sounding shrieky. If you're more interested in improvising and chilling out (and/or actually playing American Indian music), this is probably one of your best instrument options.
Here's the design that gives it that unique tone. Note the air actually leaves the body, hits the plate (usually ornamented with a "fetish", a small carving) and then is directed back into the body:
Do not buy a random no-name NAF off of eBay. If it's from a specifically-named maker with a good rep, sure, but if it doesn't specify any name at all, or has a name that gets no Google hits on flute websites, that's a pretty drat big red flag. Do not ask me how I know this.
Fortunately, there's a very well-developed online community of NAF players. The key place to check out is FlutePortal.com, which I strongly advise you read up on if you're interested in the NAF.
For makers, here are a few folks making good starter NAFs in the $50 range:
- Butch Hall, the most consistently recommended starter NAF maker. A little minimalist, but supposedly great flutes.
- Island Flutes has some budget bamboo flutes that are supposed to be great for $40-60.
- Northern Spirit has very durable starter NAFs made from black ABS plastic, so a good option if you're going to be taking this into rough weather, camping, don't want to wince if your flute falls off a table, have dumbass roommates, etc.
- Jonah Thompson is the only one of the main recommended starter flutes who is actual no-poo poo Indian, Navajo Dine, and therefore can legally call his product "Native American Flutes". In the USA, it's illegal to call a product "Native American" or similar unless the maker is legally one, so you see a lot of "Native American-style flutes" on the market. The "-style"s aren't necessarily bad, but if you have some spiritual/cultural angle involving supporting the Navajo, the man has a good rep and is a real Indian.
So far as what key to get, Am and F#m are the most popular. Am is probably the best way to go, though if you want something with a lot of bass, and have good finger reach or larger than average hands, you can look into F#.
Kind of a sideline issue, but I'm pretty set on getting a drone flute, a bagpipe-like NAF with an additional tube providing a constant drone. There are also "double flutes" with fingerholes on both side so you can do changing harmonies. Those are a bit beyond the beginner stage, but maybe something to look to as you gain experience, or if you're already an experienced musician looking at NAF:
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HMkhQ1Vq14o Mary Youngblood is apparently one of the top NAF players
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PqxQ0XqZxG4 This dude has a ton of great clips of the NAF drone flute,
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uyh9...feature=related Just to show that some Anglo songs sound good on NAF, a cover of House of the Rising Sun
|# ¿ Jun 23, 2011 03:47|
This is a fascinating thread. I never knew what a kantele was before reading it, but I really want one now.
Kantele is awesome. Personally, I'd go for the 5-string version. Not only is it a lot less expensive, but the sheer minimalism of it will make you really focus on using what you have. With a larger instrument, it'd be tempting to just use it as a psaltery, but with 5 strings you're so limited that you can freely adventure without worry of messing things up.
Fortunately, a kantele made by the main expert maker in the US costs less than a used made-in-Japan guitar at a pawnshop, so saving up $135 shouldn't be too problematic for you.
Though just plucking the 5 strings can be cool, I would recommend that anyone thinking of kantele also observe the "block-strum" method. In this kind of playing, you muffle the strings with your fingers, and then selectively raise fingers as you strum to allow strings to sound. Here's a guy doing the same technique, albeit on a lyre: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PkC1ohl2Knk&feature=fvsr
It gives it a much more driven sound, a lot more ancestrally Scandinavian .
|# ¿ Jun 24, 2011 21:36|
Just to reinforce this: back when I was buying a lot of pawnshop guitars, this was my go-to solution for guitars with dicked-up nets or fretting. $20 panwnshop guitar with shot neck? Toss on a $10 nut-riser and sell it on Craiglist for $30 for some college kid to dick with. On a dobro-type guitar the strings are pretty much just suspended in the air, so mechanically not really much drawback to just converting a cheap steel-string guitar. Granted, the tone is going to be nowhere as good, but it's a cheap way to try out this type of instrument.
Just buy whatever cheap steel-string at a pawnshop that doesn't seem to be made from balsa wood. Alternately, you could call a couple shops that sell lots of used guitars (your basic hipstery-type guitar shop) and ask if they have any cheapies with shot necks that you can convert to a slide. I've seen some pretty upscale guitar shops do this with 1920s-1930s guitars that are overall nice, but had no truss rod to keep the neck straight and are just not playable as standard guitars.
N183CS, once someone has a cheap guitar and a nut riser, any comment on what they should do to re-string it so as to be able to hit common dobro tunings, and what bar to get as a noob?
One related variant is the Hawaiian guitar. A cool option is you like the slidy sound, but not the metallic twang. Basically once enough Hawaiians played slide guitar (originally all just cheap guitars with raised nuts), luthiers figured that the neck didn't need to be usable for slide, so just more space to expand the soundbox forward:
Same slidy sound, just mellower tone. Clip:
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z2oQAQFpKFo Fernando Perez does a Hawaiian medeley
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xdTa9MzgF6s Bobby Ingano playing an electric Hawaiian guitar; interestingly enough, a ton of the earliest electric guitars were of the Hawaiian slide type, vice the currently-popular fretted. Crazy how styles change.
Yet another variant is the Indian slide guitar (or Mohan veena). It's late and I don't recall all the historical detail I once knew on these, but suffice to say that slide guitar entered India mid-last century from the USA, and found a particular niche in film music. Over time, some neat variants occurred with sitar-style sympathetic strings, buzzing bridges, etc.
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t_omCsitGYs Manish Pringle (in the above photo)
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wZgF...n_order&list=UL British dude who home-converted a guitar to Indian-style, with all the cool extra strings
TapTheForwardAssist fucked around with this message at Jun 27, 2011 around 06:17
|# ¿ Jun 27, 2011 06:01|
i did this. it's not going to explode on me, will it?
Nah, it's just that you might have more issues getting the right notes, getting the right payoff for holding steady breath pressure, etc. NAF isn't the worst instrument you could buy blind, since it's not impossible to get it decently-right on the cheap.
I really need to add in huge bold letters in the OP: "Don't buy instruments on eBay unless you know about the exact make you're buying."
In any case, what kind did you buy? Any links to the seller's other auctions? Definitely let us know how it looks when it comes in; you could be totally fine... depending.
EDIT: While we're here talking flutes:
I'll caveat right off the bat that I don't play Irish flute, but hang around with some people who do, know folks from forums, etc. So what I'm putting here is mainly "five minute summary of the common knowledge from Irish forums", and the strong encouragement to actually go to said forums and socialise if you're interested in learning this instrument. Honestly, that goes for about everything here: if it has a forum/e-list, get on it, talk to people, and learn about what to get and how to start playing.
In any case, what we commonly call the "Irish flute" is called such because English-speakers mainly use it for Irish music, but it's used plenty throughout Europe in all kinds of folk traditions. The main distinction between the Irish flute and the modern Boehm-system metal flute is that the Irish has a tapered bore (vice cylindrical on a metal flute), is made of wood, and often has no keys, just bare holes. For the folks who are into it, it's an amazingly expressive instrument, and has a definite pure minimalism to it.
Like most things here, do not buy a random Irish flute off eBay. There is a whole thread at Chiff & Fipple about how this is a Bad Idea. For cheap options, Doug Tipple makes simple (cylindrical) flutes from PVC for $50 which get surprisingly rave reviews. Tony Dixon is a British shop, and though their 1-piece IFs are a bit tricky to use, their 2-pieces are said to be good, and 3-pieces pretty solid. The 3-piece retail for $185 or so, and you can probably encounter any of the models cheaper used on forums or eBay (where you would not be buying random, but a recognised decent make). Going up in value, there are quite a few flutes in the $300-500 range of respectable but not fancy. Casey Burns makes a really stripped-down version from solid wood that's said to be a great buy. Many flutes in that range are turned from Delrin plastic, said to be a good material for flutes, and the Irish Flute Store seems to have a good community rep, and an every-circulating stock of new and used flutes, some quite affordable. Do note that plastic is not necessarily a bad thing in this context, and as a noob will save you money and avoid any maintenance risk of having to care for a more finnicky wooden instrument.
Do perform your advance research and discussion on a good forum, Chiff and Fipple's Flute Forum being a good call, or The Session.org. If you have particularly tiny hands, make sure you ask about reach, as you might want to go for a key of A or G rather than the standard D, if hand-size is a major issue (or get a make of D flute suited t small hands, see thread). Do note that there are usually plenty of used IFs on Chiff and Fipple, and/or you can always just start a new thread asking if anyone has a cheapie laying around to cut a good deal for a young, poor noob.
Once you have one, there are a good amount of learning materials online. And fortunately the instrument is fingered basically the same as a tinwhistle (though sounding an octave lower). So a lot of the educational materials are relatively transferable. The instrument also has a great presence online, so easy to meet other players and get starting tips. Once you've got some basic skills down, try googling up an "Irish session" in your area, drop in to check it out even if you aren't comfortable enough to play along with them yet. The only way to learn traditional Irish music is to be around it, so dive in.
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QFeKXaFYJo0 Tommy Coen's Reel on IF
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PvQsgtSWGQQ A Breton tune on IF
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mzhe...feature=related Swedish tunes being played on the same kind of wooden flute
One last side note: what if you want to have that low, breathy flute sound, but just aren't down with blowing across a tiny whole? There is a solution, the low whistle. Basically a big honkin' pennywhistle. If you have at all small hands, don't try going much lower than Low G unless you get to try one out in person, and even with normal hands you have a use a different grip with the Low D just to be able to reach. But they're relatively affordable compared to flutes (I got a Kerry Low D used for like $70), and not particularly harder than the smaller tinwhistle. Again, read the Chiff & Fipple forum, and here's their Guide to Low Whistles.
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0NXy3s_I87M The Lochaber Badger/The Glass Of Beer (Low Whistle & Guitar)
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FTIXotjy9VI Breton tune played on a Low G whistle by a small chick
TapTheForwardAssist fucked around with this message at Jun 28, 2011 around 03:50
|# ¿ Jun 27, 2011 21:11|
... and just to close the loop here:
Folk fife or band flute
Pretty much along the lines of the Irish flute melded with the tinwhistle. These tend to be conical bore with a flute-style head. Smaller, easy reach, generally pretty affordable.
Two makers that jump to mind are Dixon (as above, $39 for High D combo) and Ralph Sweet ($125 for High D in plastic, $125+ for A/G/F fifes in wood). Both also make combo sets in D, where it's a High D body that can take either a tinwhistle head or a fife head, so a good way to be able to try both methods of playing.
EDIT: Does anyone play the shakuhachi and want to do an intro post on it? If not, I can basically cover done, as I have a couple jinashi that I dick around with. I'm by no means a serious player, but can speak to the utter basics. I'd think we'd have at least a couple real players on the forum somewhere though.
TapTheForwardAssist fucked around with this message at Jun 28, 2011 around 02:55
|# ¿ Jun 28, 2011 02:38|
Glad to hear folks checking in; no surprise that the tinwhistle and ocarina are doing so well, given the overall ease of learning, durability, and great affordability.
Seriously, even if you're getting another instrument anyway, go ahead and get a tinwhistle too. They cost less than an appetiser at Bennigan's dammit, and can last you for decades. My uncle bought me one back in late 1980s when I was 7 or so. It sat in my toybox, then junk drawer, for years, until I picked it up as a teenager and suddenly figured out how to play it. So even if you don't have an immediate need, get one and keep it around.
I saw a dude on the street jammin with a hang the other day. I'd kill for one of those.
They are pretty awesome, though pricey at $1000+. Are you going to break down and buy a steel drum in the meantime?
EDIT: There appears to be a competing product called the HAPI drum ($345 and up), but I just found out about it now. Anyone want to dig into the reputation of these and report back? EDIT2: Also there's an Argentine instrument called a Garrahand, runs £349 in the UK.
I suppose it was inevitable that the success of the Hang would inspire similar designs. Overall I'd say that's a good thing though, as Hangs are pricey and long-waitlisted, and these other variants are pretty cool in distinct ways. Offhand, I think I might actually like the Hapi most, and it's also the cheapest.
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oLl2...feature=related Dutch busker playing Hang
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c0xx...feature=related Pretty awesome Hang duet
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IRGqSHZLqlw Here's that HAPI drum one-off; it actually sounds pretty solid. These may be worth looking into.
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uxrQDZprAYs ...and yet another, the Argentine Garrahand
UPDATE: because I'm just that serious about getting goons to play music, I bought us a banner ad:
EDIT: @ Super Fly, any advice on where to actually get a good jug? Can you just use an old jug emptied of Gallo wine, any old jug at all? Or do you have to mosey on down to Pottery Barn and get a stoneware jug, or what?
TapTheForwardAssist fucked around with this message at Jun 29, 2011 around 03:20
|# ¿ Jun 29, 2011 01:59|
I don't have much to contribute, but I'm really enjoying this thread. Keep the weird instruments coming. I think I may pick something as a gift for my 13-year-old godson, who is turning out to be quite musically talented.
Heck, have the kid drop by and check out the thread. I think it's been reasonably PG-13. And we do have yet more instruments on the way, some more goons dropping in from other subforums, etc.
Rotten Punk posted:
Where the hell can I get a decently priced hurdy gurdy? Like, do they make chinese knockoff hurdy gurdies like they do for guitars and violins? I'd love to have one but I don't have a spare several thousand dollars lying around.
Generally speaking, you can only go so cheap on a 'gurdy. They have a variety of very precisely-aligned parts that take time and skill. I built one back when I was a teenager, but even after re-truing the wheel several times it was still just enough misaligned or out-of-round that it gave this notable pitch skew as it rotated.
There are a couple kits, and the aforementioned Susatto symphony (medieval box 'gurdy) mentioned earlier in the thread. And I think there might still be a few individual makers making the symphony in the $600-800 range. Given though the importance of getting one that works right, I would definitely check in with the Hurdy-Gurdy Mailing List. If you read their archives, I'm sure "how do I get a cheap one?" must come up all the time, but I would positively read up on the subject before trying to decide.
In the meantime, if you're looking for an inexpensive alternative to the hurdy gurdy, I would strongly suggest trying out an Appalachian dulcimer. We can find you one used under $100, and its an instrument built around the same drone concept as the 'gurdy:
If you want to try a dulcimer, post or PM me and we can check out which are the best deals on eBay. Buying there takes a bit of knowledge, but if you know dulcimers you can get awfully solid deals.
|# ¿ Jun 29, 2011 12:33|
|# ¿ May 22, 2013 12:06|
Anyone play the banjola?
I wouldn't get a banjola just for practice, as they're not terribly cheap. Though if you want to get creative you could probably take a beater guitar and banjoify it by restringing, and then using a banjo "railroad spike" to peg down the drone string at the 7th fret.
Alternately, have you seen the clips of playing clawhammer ukulele? Wouldn't be the same thing, but would use the same basic skills, be a lot quieter, affordable, and fun.
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D5V4mtZ-0qg "Greasy Coat" clawhammer-style on a reso ukulele; of course, it'd be softer/mellower still on a wood body.
Or, you could just get a banjo mute.
With the Uke, I have found that I am not good at all with stronged instruments. I think their is just too much going on by strumming and pressing down on the neck at the same time and it feels a bit overwhelming. I can sing, but not well. I am leaning towards a basic melody instrument. Are their any others besides the whistles and the ocarina?
If you want a really non-intimidating instrument that is easy to sound good on, I'd stick with melodic-type instruments with relatively simple interfaces, and for extra ease consider pentatonic tunings. Overall, "pentatonic tunings" are 5-note scales, so pretty much everything tends to harmonise, "no wrong notes", etc.
- Native American flute is a bit more mellow and stable instrument than ocarina or whistle (not that those are hard, just that NAF is even more mellow), and can be played as pentatonic, but can add the in-between notes with refined fingerings if you want to work at that later on. Definitely one of those "a week to learn, a lifetime to master" instruments that you can sound decent on very quick. As low as $50 for a good starter, $135 for a good drone flute.
If you want a little more accompaniment sound on the NAF, get a drone flute NAF like this. It's not any harder to play, but just has a secondary tube taking some of your breath to hold one constant note in the background.
- Kalimba (thumb piano) is quite easy and intuitive, and in your case we can help you find one set for a pentatonic or similar simple scale to start with. Check out this clip and related clips for an idea of pentatonic/set-scale kalimbas.
- Did you also see the HAPI drums, last page? Those come in a variety of pre-set scales, and pretty much all you have to do is just strike the surface, and pretty much any points you strike will sound good together, so you just combine them all in different ways. They're a little pricier, in the mid-$300s, but are definitely unusual and distinctive while still being really accessible.
Those are a few ideas, any of these reach out to you? Again, I think a lot of it in your case is just comfort and confidence, so I wouldn't be at all surprised if you tried one of these out for a few months or a year, and then found out that you could easily branch to other instruments too. And yet all the above are great instruments in their own right, and pentatonic instruments in general are great for zoning out and getting in a groove, again because it practically takes concious effort to sound bad on pentatonic instruments.
TapTheForwardAssist fucked around with this message at Jun 30, 2011 around 01:14
|# ¿ Jun 30, 2011 01:03|