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