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Cheryl Johnson very kindly sent me a noter of the design that Phyllis Gaskins uses for Galax playing and also a couple of the Dunlop 0.46mm nylon picks she favours.

 

I've been trying out the new noter this evening and also the pick.  Here is a short recording of my Dave Lynch Galax dulcimer using first the Dunlop pick and then a quill.  Personally, I'm more used to using the quill and think it is a little 'snappier' than the pick sound.  Unfortunately quills are also 'snappier' in the 'break easily' sense of the word too

 

The noter is great and very easy to use.  I have watched Phyllis on video and read her book, and so have used her noter grip too.

 

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Replies to This Discussion

Hi Robin,

Great playing as usual. That looks like one of the noters I sold to Cheryl. Jatoba I believe or also known as Brazilian Cherry. I'm making these in Rosewood, Ebony and Jatoba as well as a few others species now and again :) As far as pics, Quills work fine, but have a tendency to chew up the wood and as you said, they break easily. I heard that Phyllis doesn't use them anymore because of the damage to the wood. Raymond Melton often used a piece of twin lead old style antennae wire trimmed to a triangle. He liked the snap it made on the fretboard without eating a hole in the top. Ralph Lee Smith also had some pics made for Galax style. I think he has them for sale as well. Play on dude!

Ben Seymour

www.kudzupatch.net

Hi Ben,  I'll drop you an email about noters as I could do with a few (and a replacement to Cheryl for the one she sent me to try out).  The quills do chew up the wood a bit but the tone is just soooo good!!!  The quills I have at present are flight feathers from Black Backed Gulls that wash up on our local beach.  They are a little softer than goose or turkey and so don't do so much damage.

Surprising how many folks seem to like those Jim Dunlop 46 nylon, I've used little else for more than 30 years now.

Just the right degree of flexability and toughness I find.

John Pearse shows a design for a replacement to a quill made of 2 or 3 pieces of heavy nylon guitar string bound to a small handle, never tried it though. I think someone on FOTMD had a clever design using strimmer line too.

john

I'm sure the gull feathers are not as tough as the Goose or Turkey quills. Just let me know how many noters and of what woods and I'll get them done for you :) BTW my ancestral home was in Wales. Known as Penhow Castle but it looks more like a manor house :)

Ben Seymour

www.kudzupatch.net

Robin Clark said:

Hi Ben,  I'll drop you an email about noters as I could do with a few (and a replacement to Cheryl for the one she sent me to try out).  The quills do chew up the wood a bit but the tone is just soooo good!!!  The quills I have at present are flight feathers from Black Backed Gulls that wash up on our local beach.  They are a little softer than goose or turkey and so don't do so much damage.

That's pretty good going Ben to trace your famly back to the 1300s !!!  I've never looked at my family tree beyond the fact that my mother's family name is Anglo-Saxon and my father's Scottish.

 

I'll send you a message about noters.

Hi Robin, John Pearse sells "Mary Faith's Dulcimer Quills"  which is a 2" x 2 3/4" (50mm x 70mm) piece of delrin which can be cut to the desired shape.  I've never played with a quill so can say if the sound is similar but the delrin is pretty flexible.  I could send you a bit to try if you liked.  Nick

That should read "can't say"

I'm glad you like the noter!!  Ben makes the best noters...I am biased of course.  I will say that his ebony has become my preferred version of this type of noter for both sound and feel.  Although I'm quite partial to olive wood too.

 Although I appreciate the sound of the quill, I've come to prefer the extra percussive sound of the pick, especially when playing in a mixed instrument group.  I was playing in an old time jam last week and there was a dulcimer player (I was on geetar).  She used a thin pick similar to those dunlops and I really liked hearing the rhythm from the pick...was so good I found myself following her....we all did.

Pretty much everyone I play with plays with a pick, so I suppose I've become accustomed to it.  The part of the recording where you used a pick sounds like phyllis...but don't tell her I said that!  :)

Enjoy!

Cheryl

I was at a session at the George III pub last night and had a Galax dulcimer with me (as always ).  It was a pretty noisy evening as the local rugby club were out on a stag night!!!    I was using quills mostly but did I try a dunlop 0.46 pick and the instrument just didn't cut through - it was like playing with a wet lettuce!  So I went up through the pick grades until I finally broke a string    I felt that the extra sharp attack of the quill carried the instrument's sound around the bar room better than the slap of the pick (across the grades) and meant that I was easily heard.  I did snap a quill and had to re-cut the tip on another but I can see why Raymond Melton may have stuck with quills, despite their downsides.

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