Wednesday, March 29, 2006

First Dulcitar Pics

As you can see in these pictures, the Dulcitar is starting to emerge from raw materials. The basic shape has been cut and the beginning stages of texture-placement have begun.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Vroom, vroom...

For the longest time, I just could NOT get this piece of sheet music printed out. It's been finished for a while, but there was some kind of error that was proving to be impossible - until today. So, here is another original tune ready for download in .pdf format:

This Road This Moment (.pdf)

This is the music for the final track on clear blue trickling. Right now, I've been notating the music into Sibelius and then exporting it to graphic form, dumping it into Adobe InDesign and then exporting it as a .pdf file. When it works. It's quite a process and I know there are easier ways - I'm just not sure what they are, besides TablEdit - which I'm working on getting. I'm pretty sure that the version that actually saves is a donation of some sort, and funds are kind of tied up and precious currently. So, what I've got to use is free - and that works for the time being, right?


Wow, this thing is pretty nifty! Now granted, it's made for guitars, even down to the string-spacing, so I knew that applying it to a dulcimer was going to be tricky - but within a half-hour or so, I was getting the most incredible sounds, from soft, woodwind-type hoots to mad fiddling action ala Beethoven. It requires a very delicate touch, and it sure is taking some getting used to - but a whole new avenue of sound has just been opened up to me - and hopefully, by the time the Dulcitar arrives, I'll have it down enough to really leap in with both feet. I'll upload some sound samples as soon as I've got something cool put together. Giddy fun! And speaking of the Dulcitar...

Dulcitar Update

Doug writes that the veneer for the topside will be a little different, as you can see to the right, it's "a wide deep curl rather than a quilt. Bookmatched down the center- sweet!" He also reports that "As of today, The body is cut out, sanded and top is veneered..starting to look like a dulcitar! Meanwhile, control/pickup cavities need to be routed and 'handle' cut out. That will keep me busy for a day or two. Then Dolphy is carefully shaped and inlayed into top. After first sanding, sealer is hand painted onto Dolphy but not wood- to protect the pearl from being stained. Corner of back and sides will be rounded off with half round bit, sanded and sprayed. The top/sides use a smaller bit and will have to wait until after staining and application of color- black for the back, turquoise for the top. Top and back are colored and sealed for protection from the router base from scratching the top. The results are a nice clean line all around needing little or no touchup. The final finish coats are then applied."

"Dolphy" refers to the mother-of-pearl dolphin that he's going to inlay into the top for me. This is truly going to be a one-of-a-kind instrument!

What really made my eyes pop is his description of how he's going to get the effect that's pictured here on this guitar. "To bring out the contrast in the grain, I will first stain the wood after light sanding using my finger tips, leaving the ripples. The a coat of sealer is then applied. Next the tops of the 'hills' are sanded off using a flat block, leaving the 'valleys' still sealed. Several more coats of stain are applied to the hills, making them darker than the valleys and so increasing the contrast. The pic below is what I'm shooting for... six parts emerald green to one part deep blue comes pretty close. Maybe a drop of yellow?"

She's gonna be one dreamy-looking axe!

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Mucking Around

Dulcitar Progress Report

Doug writes that "this is the veneer I have ordered for a top laminate. The body wood has also been purchased. I hope to start cutting wood next week." I'm like a little kid on Christmas Eve. Already. A couple of days later, "Lexan template made, maple body blank sections laid out, rough shaped on band saw.
Next- body halves glued up and clamped today......expect veneer to arrive today or tomorrow."

There's a whole month of this left, I don't know that I can take it.

New Toy...Er, Technology

I went and picked up an EBow from Guitar Center yesterday. It's a little handheld device that produces an energy field that vibrates and sustains your guitar string; they call it Direct String Synthesis. I just call it Fun As All Get-Out. In the little brochure that comes with it (it's wrapped in a little velvet bag, like a bottle of Crown Royal), among the "fun things to do with an EBow" listed are "use with a slide", "violin-like bowing strokes" and "annoy the neighbors."

Which I'm planning to go do, right now.

Thursday, March 09, 2006


The latest news is this: we're not going to Curacao. Sure, they still want us to play, but the terms of agreement have been changed. Originally, the Festival Curacao organizers were paying for each band's round trip airfare, hotel rooms for the week, issuing a per diem for meals and sending everyone home with a percentage of American ticket sales. Just recently, however, the organizers put out the word that they were hoping bands could cover their own transportation, room and board. Seeing as how we're all poor people, we simply couldn't rise to this particular occasion - so we sent along our regrets in not being able to attend.

Yeah, it's a bummer - I was looking forward to the trip if ever-so-slightly, because I always keep it in the back of my head that nothing's assured until you're there on the day of show going "wow, we're here." Usually.

But no frets and worries - those play dates would've fallen on Jae and I's second wedding anniversary, so this year, we'll continue our tradition of celebrating in Key West, where we were married.

I just put a deposit down on my Dulcitar and I'm super-stoked. It'll be the first production model made after the prototype, which is pictured here, and Doug's doing some crazy-great customizations on it, including:

4 string design Chromatic scale
Color- transparent turquoise/blue burst, gloss top, flat black back/sides, “routed binding”
Finish type- 2 part Dupont or Imron
Custom inlay- dolphin as specified, left/upper bout
LED Fret markers- green/blue 12th fret
Wood- plain maple
Fingerboard- rosewood
Tuners- chrome Goto mini buttons
Custom bone nut- Standard cut slots(doubled bass strings, 2 melody strings with extra slots for equidistant spacing
Electronics- 2 p-bass pickups with piezo saddle/bridge

It's gonna be sexy. As production pictures are available, I'll post them here - but suffice it to say that I'm drooling over mid-April, which is around about when I can expect this baby to be shipped! I told Doug if I really liked it, I'd order another one, this time with a traditional dulcimer fretboard (well, with 6+ and 3+ frets).

Patrick McKinney, who was the luthier behind creating Angelique out of a Cripple Creek acoustic kit, is ready to go for bout number two, during which we're going to fashion a solid-body hot-rod of a dulcimer with traditional fretboard to be played in the original style. Based on his suggestion, we're going to make it a real speciality of an instrument and offer up a few for sale online - a signature dulcimer. We're in the design phase now.

Man, 5:30 a.m. comes quickly - heigh-ho, heigh-ho, and all that fiddle-jazz!

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Great Show

Fat Tuesday rocked - it was a great day for music and food, chilling with friends and celebrating life. The other bands were great, High Octane, which is Chuck Zayas' new band (he of Rocket 88 fame, as well as Nutrajet, for a brief and highly experimental time), Cosmic Sweat Society out of New Orleans, who really put on a hell of a show, and our friends Cadillac Recipe who put the crowd into the dancing mood.

The Mohave set was extremely pleasurable; it felt good, sounded right and was nothing but fun from start to finish. Mark and Rob truly stepped up to the plate and delivered home runs across the board and Uncle Charles really fired up the mix - it wasn't the first time I'd jammed with him, we'd done some big jam sessions at Hard Rock Live with about twenty people on stage, but we'd never actually had a chance to go one-on-one and it was really quite fun. At one point during "Caught", we were trading licks with each other during the break.

Steve, the sound guy, was really on it, kept it sounding incredible out front (as evidenced by the video) It was good to be back onstage again, playing this music, good to see bodies dancing and smiling, bopping heads and making noise. It's a real good feeling to communicate the vibe and pass it around. That's going to be something I pay close attention to in the coming weeks. Developing stronger connections and rhythms to truly get inside of the music.

We should have some info about upcoming gigs soon - in the meantime, check out these photos from the show, taken from video shot by our Goddess of a friend, Tina DeMasi.

Thanks to all who came out to party with us - yes, we were hurtin' the next morning!