Refurbishing/fixing a mountain dulcimer

Maryann Lang
11/27/13 02:08:07PM

This newbie did what everyonewarns not to, purchased a dulcimer on Ebay -- I knew what I was in for, but loved the shape and ocean theme,so was willing to take the chance. It arrived in a muchrougher conditionthan the seller described: quote"this is the most beautiful dulcimer I have ever seen and Ihave been to a lot of dulcimer festivals" --granted it is pretty if you overlook all theflaws and dirt. See pic below (this was taken after I cleaned it up). I think the issues are mostly cosmetic,but I will not be able to play it until the nose is reglued (it is loose at the bottom)and tuning gears replaced (they were rusty). There is a heart shaped label inside "Handmade by Larry Charles Eaton in the year of 1976." (Looked the name up online and did not find anything.) My goal is to refurbish it to working condition, and also make somecosmetic improvements. So far I have cleaned it andsmoothed/evened out the finish with fine steel wool. The top appears to be a solid wood, the sides are veneer, bottom I am not sure butit is not a solid wood.I thinklemon oil is all it will need after fixing the loose/chipping veneer on the right edge near the tail. I also plan (with help from guitar-maker friends) on replacingthe homemade nut and bridge with rosewood (the strings appear to be resting too high off the fretboard).And, if possible, replace the hideous poorly done inlay of a jellyfish(?).A wood artisan friendcan make awood inlayreplacement for me. I don't know if this lastfix is even possible --I was hoping that the entire first fret(with jellyfish inlay)up to the fret barcould becut out. The fret board is laminated, the top layer is 2/8" the entire depth is 5/8".

So my question for this group is, has anyone ever relaced asection of a fretboard? Most would probably advise leaving the inlay as is but it is awfully ugly up close and really detracts from the beauty of the rest of the dulcimer. Sorry for the long story, any comments would be welcome!