W. Martin Dulcimer History

Ken Longfield
Ken Longfield
@ken-longfield
17 hours ago
944 posts

Dwain Wilder:

I always made those ebony fine tuners for Walt, and still do. Message me if you need them. I also make cases that fit Sunhearths, but the are expensive and hard to find materials for. None on hand.

This is good to know Dwain.

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."

Dwain Wilder
Dwain Wilder
@dwain-wilder
yesterday
25 posts

I always made those ebony fine tuners for Walt, and still do. Message me if you need them. I also make cases that fit Sunhearths, but the are expensive and hard to find materials for. None on hand.

Ken Longfield
Ken Longfield
@ken-longfield
yesterday
944 posts

I don't know of any makers of the fine tuners on the Sunhearth dulcimers. Walt made those himself. One was missing on the Sunhearth I bought, but I had some little pieces of ebony so I made one for my dulcimer. If you send me a photo of the the fire tuners on your dulcimer and rough measurements, I can make one for you. Send me a private message here if interested. Click on @ken-longfield and then look for  send message on the left hand side of the screen

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."


updated by @ken-longfield: 01/30/23 10:47:10PM
Badrepp
Badrepp
@bob-reppert
yesterday
5 posts

Hello All

I took my Dulcimer to the Illinois Guitar Show over the weekend.

I had the only one there that I could find. As soon as I unwrapped it a man came right over and wanted to see it. He said years ago he made them and was impressed with the quality of workmanship and conditions mine was in. He was selling cigar box guitars now but would like to get back to Dulcimers. Most people I spoke to, had little knowledge of dulcimers, (It was a Guitar show)

I spoke to Steve Scorfina, early REO Speedwagon member, who now collects vintage Guitars, Banjos, etc. was also impressed in the quality, but never collected them because he was head deep in guitars. He was very interested in purchase and or trade buy we did not have a value to start at.

I told him the next show I attend that I know he would be at, we will talk but not seeing another one at this show and not seeing a W. Martin up for sale online, they must be special, and I would more than likely keep mine and buy a guitar from him.

So, know I am looking for a protective case to store it in.

Also, just before the bridge, there are some black sides, Is there a place to purchase them, I am missing one.

Thanks for reading along.

Bob R. 

Ken Longfield
Ken Longfield
@ken-longfield
2 weeks ago
944 posts

You're welcome.

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."

Badrepp
Badrepp
@bob-reppert
2 weeks ago
5 posts

Ken,

I want to thank you for the Sunhearth brochures and information on Walter Martin.


updated by @bob-reppert: 01/16/23 03:07:46PM
Dwain Wilder
Dwain Wilder
@dwain-wilder
3 weeks ago
25 posts

Glad you liked it, Robin. One of my faves.

Robin Thompson
Robin Thompson
@robin-thompson
3 weeks ago
1,344 posts

Wow, thanks for sharing the video from Liliya, Dwain!  I enjoyed that lots. 

Dwain Wilder
Dwain Wilder
@dwain-wilder
3 weeks ago
25 posts

@Leo , @randy-adams , @robin-thompson , @badrepp p , thank you all. I don't have videos of my building process, and don't have the equipment for that. But there is one video of James Maguire, of Laliya, an Australian duo with his wife, Melissa. He is playing a Baby Grand with electronics and guitar synth output, the first dulcimer I ever made with advanced electronics. The composition is Weave.

@badrepp , forgot to tag you when I wrote that I'd be interested in how the Sunhearth is received at the guitar show!

Randy Adams
Randy Adams
@randy-adams
3 weeks ago
97 posts

And a video or two Robin. The vid 'carving the scroll' is worth the price of admission. 

Robin Thompson
Robin Thompson
@robin-thompson
3 weeks ago
1,344 posts

Yes, in the realm of art.  And Dwain posts photos of his processes in building Bear Meadow instruments.  It's neat to see them!   

Salt Springs
Salt Springs
@salt-springs
3 weeks ago
191 posts

True enough Randy......................

Dwain Wilder
Dwain Wilder
@dwain-wilder
3 weeks ago
25 posts

Randy Adams:

Ok I'll say it out loud. Dulcimers built by Dwain Wilder have far surpassed the level of craft and are in the realm of art.

Randy, I blush! I entered this craft standing on the shoulders of a giant, and feel I owe it to the community to demonstrate the craft's evolution at every opportunity.

Randy Adams
Randy Adams
@randy-adams
3 weeks ago
97 posts

Ok I'll say it out loud. Dulcimers built by Dwain Wilder have far surpassed the level of craft and are in the realm of art.

Dwain Wilder
Dwain Wilder
@dwain-wilder
3 weeks ago
25 posts

Hi Badrepp, Leo, Robin, Ken, Dusty,

Those photos bring back such memories of my old mentor. He was like a second father for me.

And I never knew Walt encountered L. Alan Smith! Ken, thanks for pointing Leo to my website's Sunhearth page. Glad you still have your Sunhearth!

Badrepp, 12 12 14 22PBW will work fine with the Sunhearth. You might find that the higher tension of this set sharps the tone in frets above the 7 (first octave), as Walt didn't know about intonation and compensation. But Sunhearth action was so wonderfully low that intonation problems could only be perceived by those with very keen pitch recognition. If you have trouble with the 14 string sharping, try a 13.

I'd be interested to hear how the guitar players assessed that Sunhearth.

Badrepp
Badrepp
@bob-reppert
3 weeks ago
5 posts

Leo,

Thanks and WOW.

I was purchasing old wooden church organ bellows and the Dulcimer was part of the lot. I restrung it with 12 12 14 22 hope walt approves. I will have to learn to play now.

I looked Lorraine and she is scheduled in a show in Connecticut that I may be able to stop at if a trip to boston aligns.

I am invited to a guitar show in Illinois later this month and I was asked to bring it alone.

Leo Kretzner
Leo Kretzner
@leo-kretzner
3 weeks ago
32 posts

I can tell you a number of things! And pictures! 

I met Walt and Mike Martin at the Flower Carol Dulcimer Festival in Watertown, MA (Boston area, near Cambridge), which had been started by Lorraine Lee (now L.L. Hammond), in May of 1982. They invited me out to Roaring Spring, PA, waaay in the middle of the state, near Altoona, a paper mill town, to do a workshop and concert, and 'paid' me with Sunhearth #692, 5-15-83, of course signed 'W Martin.' It was the Lorraine Lee model, which had added Grover geared banjo tuners (inline, with the trad look of friction pegs), a piezoelectric 'pickup' under the bridge (a crystal that converts vibrations to pulses of electrons) (!) (does not work worn on the body!) and an extended body, which required a custom made case at the time.

That quickly became and remains the main dulcimer that I play. Walt was mildly disturbed if not insulted a year later to see I'd put on strings that were "way too heavy" - 12's, 16, 28w! "That's not what Lorraine uses! I designed that instrument for 9-10's, 14's middle, and 22w bass!!" I felt on the spot, quickly assuring him his design and construction, in their excellence, had no problem handling the heavier string!! I think he may have admitted it still sounded alright, lol. That was Walt Martin!

Lorraine wrote a tune for one of his major birthdays called Walt's Waltz, but I don't recall it and can't find it w G or YTube. 

When I was there, the Martin homestead was Walt and his wife Helen, a wonderfully warm matriarch, their son Michael, who did a LOT of the building, and his partner, folksinger Debby McClatchy. It was a visit I wished I'd set aside more time for! 

I'll attach pictures. Wish there were more! 

It was in their workshop that I first laid eyes on a chromatic dulcimer, incredulously. It seemed overwhelming, especially as, on (I think) all of their dulcimers, there were no fret inlays of any kind! Walt said, "Oh, we built that for somebody somewhere who custom ordered it and then disappeared, couldn't reach him. It's been sitting here for years - why don't you borrow it, if you like? If he ever turns up we may need it back, but I doubt it..."  So, in an unparalleled experience of dulci-decadence, I left there with two Sunhearth dulcimers and was basically out a couple days mileage and gas money, which seemed 'bad' then!

BUT, as fate would have it - I kid you not - the very next month they suddenly heard from the guy, and he wanted his dulcimer!

Just as well. The last time I saw Mike Martin and Debby McClatchy was at a Claremont (CA) Folk Festival several years back, and they're living somewhere in California. 

Great memories! On to the photos. Never got any of that chromatic that must be out there somewhere! 

1. At Flower Carol Festival, '82, Walt Martin middle w beard, talking w dulcimer historian and author L Alan Smith, unknown HD player.   

2. Michael Martin at Flower Carol Fest, '82. I think they built a handful of HDs (?).

3. Wall of dulcimers. '83. They built both with and without the 6.5. I don't think they ever did a 1.5

4. More dulcimers and ribbons.  

5, 6: pegheads in progress

7, 8: bodies and templates

Dusty Turtle
Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
3 weeks ago
1,629 posts

I suggest you contact @dwain-wilder, who is a member here.  He owns Bear Meadow and learned his luthery skills from Walter Martin of Sunhearth, which is why @dan pointed you to that website.




--
Dusty T., Northern California
Site Moderator

As a musician, you have to keep one foot back in the past and one foot forward into the future.
-- Dizzy Gillespie
Ken Longfield
Ken Longfield
@ken-longfield
3 weeks ago
944 posts

If you send me a personal message and provide me with you email address I can send you two scans for articles about Walt Martin and Sunhearth dulcimers. Walt was quite a character. He could be very cordial and at other times acerbic. I met him at festival and talked with him for a bit mentioning that my in-laws lived near him. He invited me and wife to stop by to visit him and see his workshop. When we did, he wanted to know what the h*ll we were doing there. We did manage a brief but somewhat antagonistic (on his part) visit.

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."

Robin Thompson
Robin Thompson
@robin-thompson
3 weeks ago
1,344 posts

Sunhearth instruments are fantastic!  I had one and passed it along to a young person-- I was the caretaker for awhile and it was a privilege to have the instrument.  Enjoy your Sunhearth!  

Badrepp
Badrepp
@bob-reppert
3 weeks ago
5 posts

Thank you very much for the link

Dan
Dan
@dan
3 weeks ago
171 posts

Yes those are wonderful pieces with a very "big" sound!

Randy Adams
Randy Adams
@randy-adams
3 weeks ago
97 posts

Those Sunhearth dulcimer are top quality instruments.  Have real good rep

Badrepp
Badrepp
@bob-reppert
3 weeks ago
5 posts

Hello,

1st Post

I bought a Dulcimer at an estate sale. inside one of the star holes it reads:

Sunhearth #526  6-19-79   W. Martin

Looking for history or information on builder etc.

Any direction would be great


updated by @bob-reppert: 01/08/23 07:44:19PM