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recording the dulcimer

03/11/2009

How to record the mountain dulcimer to get a great sound 

 

Being a quiet instrument, especially when played fingerstyle, there’s a risk that the mountain dulcimer will sound thin on a recording.

 

Firstly, good microphone technique is important.  When mic’ing up stringed instruments it’s best practice to position the mic at about 45 degrees to the deck. A square–on mic can capture strange and rough sounds from the back of the instrument.

 

Secondly, my hour-glass dulcimer gives noticeably different tones from its upper and lower bouts – so I use two mics, one on each bout, panning them apart so that the dulcimer occupies a space (not just a point) in the mix.

 

All my instruments have saddle-type transducer pickups fitted for stage use.  A pickup on its own can sound a little unnatural in the studio as it has different attack and decay characteristics from a microphone. However, pickups are resistant to squeaks and fingering noise – the signal is very clean.  So thirdly, we mix in a little of the pickup sound with the two mics to achieve a clean, rich and smooth sound.

 

Lastly, I patch in some stereo effects.  Along with two microphones, the pickup and stero effects, the dulcimer takes up 5 channels in the mix.  The sound is full and strong. 

 

read related articles

 

 Dan playing dulcimer

 



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