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Frets Magazine Interview, Part 1

Updated: Oct 2, 2022

One of the best experiences in the research for Pluck happened whenever I found an obscure source that opened many more lines of inquiries. One teased-out thread would lead to many more informative threads about David's personal history specifically and dulcimer history in general. This happened many, many times.

David in 1988 posing for Nashville photojournalist Alan L. Mayor. David borrowed one of his favorite Vince Farsetta's handmade jackets for the shoot. Note the big Texas belt buckle. Courtesy of Alan L. Mayor Estate.

One such source was an old interview with David in Frets magazine some thirty years ago. Here are just a few of the gems I found that provided clues and led me to more sources; more in Part 2 to come.


  • David shares his preferred tunings up to that point: "I used primarily a DDAD tuning (high to low) [and also] DDGD,. CCAD and AABE".

  • His dulcimers have a 26 or 261/2 VSL.

  • He prefers gauges that are a little heavier than most players used at the time: Melody: .012; Middle: .014, and bronze wound of .026 for the bass. He says, "That way I'm able to be gentle with the instrument and still have some volume." (I tried those gauges on my own dulcimer, and, sure enough ...!)

  • During performances, he plays about half the time with four, evenly-spaced strings, and the other half with paired melody strings, like those on a mandolin.

  • About half the time during performances he frets with his fingers; the other half he uses a noter.

  • The first song he picked out when he was learning was the Rolling Stones's "Ruby Tuesday." He admits that he didn't know much about the instrument's Appalachian history when he started. (That would all change dramatically during the course of his career.)


Next post: more to come in part 2 on this topic.


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