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DF-Mark

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Hi there, I'm the designer and builder at Dragonfly Tapping Instruments and new to Tappistry. We make handcrafted 6, 7 and 8 string instruments and I am always surprised by just how different it is to play one or the other ... each one seems to be quite a different beast and its not just a matter of an extra string or two. Perhaps it has to do with the way the hands and body relate to even fairly subtle differences.

I notice that a number of members own and play multiple brands of tapping instruments and, given that the only differences between our models relate directly to the string number, I wonder about how you all cope with the more drastic differences between radically different instruments. Does it take a while to get used to playing one or the other? Does one adapt to the instrument or make the instrument adapt to oneself? Does the particular sound, or feel of one instrument or another affect your playing?

Since I've never had the chance to play (or even hold) another tapping instrument, I'm interested in your comments. Thanks! ... and happy new year to you all! Mark

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russogermaine

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I'm a bass player (upright acoustic) and just borrowing a Megatar from a friend for a few months. I guess I'm used to kind of wrapping my arms around my bass - embracing it - so I'm liking the way I wrap my arms around the Megatar. The string tapping business is giving me some challenges. I've been moving back and forth between the Meg and my bass and really going through some confusing mental shifts. I don't know how to really describe it....I'll have to work on that. I notice that some guys on this forum seem to have a LOT of different instruments, and I also kind of wonder how they keep it all in order. For me it's just an acoustic bass and a Megatar, but I'm still getting confused. I took a look at Dragonfly and like the look of your instruments. You sound pretty good. How long did it take you to get some proficiency on the instrument? Which of your instruments do you like playing the best (6, 7, or 8 string)?
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Jtmart

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Welcome to the forum! Someone posted a link to your site a few days ago and I looked over your instruments. Very good workmanship and style, also I see some very innovative design around the nut and headstock. I know that's not what you posted about but maybe on a seperate thread you could share your insights that lead you to that design. You also do some great work musically with you instrument I think you would adapt to a melody/bass configuration very quickly.

Jeff

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DF-Mark

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Reply with quote  #4 
Thanks for your comments Russ and Jeff!

Quote:
How long did it take you to get some proficiency on the instrument? Which of your instruments do you like playing the best (6, 7, or 8 string)?


I don't regard myself as being particularly proficient and its not something that I have consciously worked on ... I just like to see what can be done with every instrument I make or get my hands on!! If I was forced to choose between our 6, 7 or 8 string models I think I would stick to the middle of the road, the DF-7. The DF-6 is a great versatile instrument (for tapping, strumming, plucking hammering, bowing etc.) and with the DF-8 I feel like I'm a bit more tied into tapping ... that can be a good thing in some ways! Its always nice to have a something extra in the bass though so I think I'll stick with a DF-7 [smile]. Mind you I'm glad I don't have to decide to only have one!!

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I know that's not what you posted about but maybe on a separate thread you could share your insights that lead you to that design


Theres always some interesting design decisions involved in new instruments and yes, its possibly best to explore that a bit more in a separate thread. I'll post something under the 'building' topic.

http://www.tappistry.org/post/design-decisions-7224295?pid=1285568776#post1285568776

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Tapladder

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Reply with quote  #5 
Quote:
Originally Posted by DF-Mark
Hi there, I'm the designer and builder at Dragonfly Tapping Instruments and new to Tappistry. We make handcrafted 6, 7 and 8 string instruments and I am always surprised by just how different it is to play one or the other ...

I notice that a number of members own and play multiple brands of tapping instruments and, given that the only differences between our models relate directly to the string number, I wonder about how you all cope with the more drastic differences between radically different instruments....


I think there are advantages and disadvantages involved with all matters of tuning (4ths, 5ths, crossed, uncrossed) associated with specialty two-handed tapping instruments. 

I started off with two 4ths/inverted 5ths instruments from different manufacturers, both required "cross-handed" playing technique.  The possibilities are tremendous.  For me, I found the inverted 5ths are really good for playing 2-handed bass lines.  I ended up with ergonomics problems, though.  My hands aren't big enough for cross-handed play, and I could never figure out how to play for a long time without developing some joint or tendon pain.  Maybe I was the only one with that problem.

The two instruments I tap the most are a Megatar in uncrossed 4ths, and a 7-string guitar in straight 4ths.  There main advantage of an uncrossed tuning for me has been with regards to ergonomics.  I have played something like 150-200 gigs with the Megatar over the past 5 years, some of them 2 hours long, and never have any pain.  The two hands never interfere with each other with uncrossed play, and that's a plus. 

I do enjoy tapping my 7-string guitar, and it is a completely different animal.  The ergonomics are gentle on my hands and wrists, but the two hands are always in each other's way with my style of play [smile].  It is a bit of a puzzle, to arrange a tune with the left hand playing the bottom 3-4 strings, and the right hand playing the highest 4 strings, because sometimes the left and right hand want access to the same string.  But, since I play the instrument through a simple effects pedal and then into headphones, it only needs to sound good to me. 

So regarding the many tunings and configurations used for 2-handed tapping...there are advantages and disadvantages to all of them, I think.  I started out with cross-handed/4ths/5ths instruments and have gravitated to 4ths instruments over the years.








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bergland

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Reply with quote  #6 
Quote:
Originally Posted by DF-Mark
 I wonder about how you all cope with the more drastic differences between radically different instruments. Does it take a while to get used to playing one or the other? Does one adapt to the instrument or make the instrument adapt to oneself? Does the particular sound, or feel of one instrument or another affect your playing?

Mark:

I own a studio full of woodwind, brass, digital, and string instruments. Each one has its own essence and soul and demands that I adopt an entirely different attitude and approach in playing it. I believe that learning to increase my awareness in the kinds of differences each instrument embraces, is one of the many great psychological/spiritual benefits of instrumental obsession. Musical learning is not just resident in how my fingers can move gracefully from one position to another, but in observing myself in relationship with the entire object I intimately seduce in an attempt to release its authentic voice. 

I've owned 3 touchstyle instruments in my life - Megatar, Chapman Stick, and Warr Guitar. Although each is a 12-string with the same tuning (standard/classical tuning), each has its own unique and distinct personality and voice. They share certain similar attributes, but I treat them as the separate characters they really are.

Please understand that the descriptions of instrumental characteristics listed below are personal and subjective. I don't mean for anyone to share or even agree with any of these observances. They are simply expressions of my own conditioned aesthetic values.

My first touchstyle possession was a Megatar, purchased as a temporary stand-in while I waited for a Chapman Stick. Although I was initially contemptuous of the Megatar's visual appearance, I softened after doing a bit of research and discovering that the shape was modeled after the vintage Vox Phantom guitar. The body of the instrument is perfectly weighted and allows me to manipulate it in various ways when I'm seated. I was impressed with the no-nonsense authentic feel and sound of the Megatar, and easily translated my love of blues to its performance. I liked the wide open feel of the fretboard. I could grab and clutch at notes with a sense of merciless desperation (required by any serious player of blues). My fingers never stumbled over each other. The system of strapping the instrument on felt natural and comfortable. I could get in and out of the Megatar in seconds. The Bartolini pickups gave me a deep and resonant low end. It didn't need much processing in order to get a decent sound. The instrument felt substantial. It had authority to its soul. The whole instrument felt as if it would be at home in a sawdust-littered gaslit blues bar somewhere - exactly what I was looking for.

When the Chapman Stick arrived, I was excited to explore it, but was soon met with many disappointments. My first was in the "appearance" of the Stick. I'm a professional visual artist and designer with a Ph.D in visual aesthetics, so I don't treat shape and form in a casual way, nor do I lack the vocabulary and understanding to assess these attributes in an articulate fashion. It was just a plain rectangular "stick." If one were interested in avoiding any attempt to bring a visual element to an instrument, this would be it. It seemed unfinished to me. I've always thought of the body of a guitar as a visual anchoring mechanism. It offers that thin-looking fretboard a sense of weighted balance when in relationship with the human body. I know that many devotees admire the Stick's minimalism, but it wasn't the aesthetic that attracted me. My next disappointment was in the support mechanism. I felt hindered and constrained when climbing into the strap mechanisms. And then, when my hands touched the fretboard, that sense of constraint magnified. The freedom and sense of roaming play I felt with the Megatar was gone. My fingers were tightly connected and felt regimented. The fretboard was just too narrow for me.  Unfortunately, I had become used to the large physical and conceptual playing field offered by the Megatar. I could never get the sound I wanted out of the Stick. It seemed contrived and mechanical in nature. It always sounded too harp-like for me (even though I went through dozens of processing devices). Again, this is all a very personal assessment and I realize that the Stick is a joy for thousands of people.  I never really felt comfortable with the characteristics of the Stick, however. Our personalities didn't seem to mesh. I put it away in the back of my studio and there it remained for many years. I finally sold it to finance a long-term trip to Mexico (where I purchased a 10-stringed Jarana from Veracruz).

A number of years later, I had the opportunity to purchase a Warr guitar. I took the chance, hoping to re-invent my involvement in touchstyle play. Mark Warr had offered me an instrument that another owner defaulted on. So, I didn't have any input into its design. I decided to invite it into my studio as a guest and see what it had to offer. Well, this instrument has offered a plethora of complex challenges. There is no problem with the visual appearance of the instrument. The shape and design contours are stylistically proportional and the quality of woods are amazing. The tonality of the instrument is massive. It needs restraining, instead of coaxing. My time is spent trying to tame its explosive sound, to temper its desire to conquer existence through the sheer authority of its voice. But when I'm finally able to put audio restraints in place, the Warr can speak with amazing precision. Simply placing one's finger on a string brings forth sonic poetry. The touch and feel of the instrument is amazing. Although the fretboard is almost identical to the Megatar's, it is light years away in terms of tactility. Somehow, moving ones fingers across the strings on the Warr seems effortless. I can play sequences of notes and arpeggios much faster on the Warr than I can on the Megatar. It is like my fingers are being pulled to their destination, rather than my having to move them there. The Warr and Megatar fretboards are basically the same, so I have no understanding how this happens. But it does. The Warr guitar is a prima donna and it knows it. It continually informs me that I should feel honored to play it. I don't know how this happens, but it does. Of course, I am well aware that the experience one elicits from an instrument is in large part psychologically shaped and that real objectivity has been shown to be mostly mythical. So what does this mean for luthiers in the promotion and descriptions of their wares?

Each of these instruments has provided a completely different experience for me. The Megatar allows me to feel a natural and genuine intimacy with an instrument. I am connected with it in a very primal and basic way and we are friends. The Chapman Stick made me feel mechanized and contrived. I felt distanced from it through sight, sound, and feel. The Warr guitar is a prima donna. It puts me in touch with my musical intellectuality. I want to push my performance skills to match its capacity. I reach for the Megatar when I want a friend and just want to express myself in a natural way. I reach for the Warr when I'm looking to push my performance levels to their maximum capacity.

And sometimes, I look at them all just waiting for attention, and I reach over and slowly grab a Mexican vihuela, turning my back on all of them. 




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- Megatar Classic, Max Tapper 12-String
- Warr Guitar, Artist 12-String with MIDI
- Chapman Stick, Grand, Satine, Classic
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DF-Mark

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Reply with quote  #7 

Quote:
So regarding the many tunings and configurations used for 2-handed tapping...there are advantages and disadvantages to all of them, I think. 


Quote:
Musical learning is not just resident in how my fingers can move gracefully from one position to another, but in observing myself in relationship with the entire object I intimately seduce in an attempt to release its authentic voice. 


Well said, both of you!! ... thanks very much for your thoughtful input. 

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jdavies

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Reply with quote  #8 
Quote:
Originally Posted by bergland
Somehow, moving ones fingers across the strings on the Warr seems effortless. I can play sequences of notes and arpeggios much faster on the Warr than I can on the Megatar. It is like my fingers are being pulled to their destination, rather than my having to move them there.


What tunings do you have your Warr and Megatar in?

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gebass6

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Reply with quote  #9 
Hello all.I'm new to this forum.This may not be the right thread for this question.Sorry!
Does any one know who makes this instrument. 546435_10151114198663345_1108016901_n.jpg  Tuned F#BEADGCFBbEb 28 FRETS.jpg

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DF-Mark

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Reply with quote  #10 
Looks interesting gebass06! I certainly haven't see it before ... it may be a one-off build. Where did the photos come from?
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ixlramp

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Reply with quote  #11 
https://www.facebook.com/fudakowski

Ah i remember that, It belongs to Mike Fudakowski, looks like he made it too.
I saw that because he is a friend of Kalium (formerly Circle K) Strings, who are a very innovative company i have been following the progress of, they offer ERB strings from .008p to .266 in hundreds of sets with intelligently designed (= non-traditional) tension.
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gebass6

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Reply with quote  #12 
Thanks ixlramp.He goes by the name "Namazu"Apparently it's made by Peter Stephen Custom Guitars.Out of New Zealand.Thanks for the lead.
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