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One of my instruments is a fretless dulcimer type thing built from a giant gourd I found at the NC farmers market many moons ago. I call it a "gourdtar."  (Clever, I know.)

It looks like this


Here's what it sounds like with my band when I play it slide and drone style (using a slide like a noter, essentially):
Wire Mountain Shindig by twangdarkly


It's tuned CGC -- this tune is essentially a mixolydian piece.

Views: 412

Tags: diy, fretless, gourd, mixolydian

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Comment by Mike Goldston on December 18, 2012 at 9:21pm

Thanks for the reply and all the information Bucko.  I really like the sound of the Electric Gourd.  I'm sure it is popular with Twang Darklyu fans.

Comment by Bucko Futreal on December 15, 2012 at 3:04pm

Hi Mark

1) Is it basically a 3-string fretless dulcimer?

Essentially, yes, in that it's a zither with a raised fingerboard and three string courses.  It's also set up essentially like a dulcimer, with the bass string furthest from the player, with string gauges comparable to what you'd use on a dulcimer (in my case .024, 016, .012)

2) Is CGC your typical tuning?

Yes, CGC is my typical tuning.  It has a longer scale length than a typical dulcimer, so the lower tuning works well.  I sometimes tune it to DGC, or drop it to BF#B 

3) Is there any info available on how to make one?

Not really.  The construction was based entirely on the shape of this unusually large gourd and what kind of instrument it could accommodate.  I recommend looking up Bart Hopkins books if you'd like good information on instrument building.

4) Are you fingerpicking with the right hand or what?

Usually I finger-pick with my right and use a slide with my left.  Sometimes I use a pick, particularly when playing live with my band e.g. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gk_AZX7Wluk

Bonus information.. originally, the gourdtar had a transducer pickup adhered to the inside of the gourd shell.  This sounded ok, but I eventually switched to a magnetic pickup intended for dobro -- it's mounted upside down.  You can get some good views of in the Gourdtown video.  I often call it the "electric gourd" nowadays.  It gets a lot of attention at shows.

Comment by Mike Goldston on December 9, 2012 at 1:47pm

I really like the sound of your Gourdtar and would like to know more about it. Some questions if you have the time and inclination:

1) Is it basically a 3-string fretless dulcimer?

2) Is CGC your typical tuning?

3) Is there any info available on how to make one?

4) Are you fingerpicking with the right hand or what?

Also, really like your Gourdtown recording.  Thank you much for sharing...Mike

Comment by Bucko Futreal on February 25, 2011 at 10:12pm
Thanks Scott.  I'd love to be doing the music for Swamp People :-)
Comment by Scott Allen on February 25, 2011 at 8:40am

That is so cool! I love the sound. That instrument could be the forerunner of the dobro. You ought to be playing the background music for the show "Swamp People"!

 

Scott

Comment by Bucko Futreal on February 24, 2011 at 1:56am
Thanks, folks.  It's a lot of fun to play!
Comment by Jim Fawcett on February 23, 2011 at 5:05pm
What a different sound. I like it!!!
Comment by Dulcimer Diva on February 23, 2011 at 3:30pm
Oh WOW that looks and sounds so cool !!!!
Comment by John Tipton on February 23, 2011 at 11:51am
This sounds really good!
Comment by BJ Jordan on February 23, 2011 at 7:44am
Wow...what a great find!  Sounds awesome...!

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