Tuning a Scheitholt Jun 25, 2007 20:12:01 GMT 1
Post by Dick Glasgow on Jun 25, 2007 20:12:01 GMT 1
Here's a piece, by Ellen Kuhfeld, on tuning a Scheitholt:
Tune the melody strings (those passing over the frets) to B an octave below the B on a guitar tuning pipe.
Play up and down the scales; ideally, all notes should be sharp and clear, with no great effort to push the strings down and no "buzzing" caused by the strings touching inappropriate frets during their vibrations.
With shallow slots in the bridge, you will probably have to press down on the strings exceedingly hard.
Adjust the action by gradually deepening the slots in the bridge until it is easy to fret your notes, but the string is still high enough not to buzz against the neighboring fret. (You don't have to remove the string to deepen the slot -- just loosen it enough that it can be slipped out.)
Cut all slots in the bridge to this height, then touch up the raw wood surfaces with a Q-tip dipped in boiled linseed oil.
When you have found a satisfactory action, tune the fretted (melody) strings until you find the key your scheitholt sounds happiest in.
Tune the three unwrapped strings in unison; tune the wrapped string a fifth down.
(Press the melody strings at the third fret; the wrapped string should be an octave down from that.)
The two strings closest to you form a double string, on which the melody is played; the remaining two strings will give a drone effect much like the bagpipe:
For details of playing, see a book such as Jean Ritchie's The Dulcimer Book.
The scheitholt is most easily played by ear, or from the old shape-note notation.
It only plays in one key at a time, though it is capable of all the classical modes of music.
The tuning I give is for the Ionian mode, which evolved into the modern major keys.
Another useful tuning is the Dorian mode, wherein you leave the two drone strings alone and lower the melody strings two semitones (so that the melody strings, stopped at the first fret, will sound the same note as the unwrapped drone).
This is a minor mode, used for a lot of early songs.
The scheitholt is a self-sufficient, quiet little instrument – nothing to take to parties, but excellent for meditation.
It can be tuned like a bagpipe, and most pipe music sounds good on it – yet it sounds nothing like a bagpipe.
Its sound is most like that of the Appalachian dulcimer, but gentler and less resonant.
It has an aura of simpler, quieter days about it, with its sound as uncomplicated as its body.
It's an excellent first instrument, both for woodworkers and for musicians.[/size][/color]
Making a Scheitholt[/quote]