Forum Activity for @ken-hulme

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
11/27/20 02:37:41PM
1,767 posts

Action is too low


Instruments- discuss specific features, luthiers, instrument problems & questions

If you are getting together with the builder, DO NOT DO ANYTHING until he checks it over.  If you live that close to the builder, don't be doing things yourself.  That's just silly.  Let the builder do any modifications he feels are necessary.

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
11/27/20 06:50:23AM
1,767 posts

Action is too low


Instruments- discuss specific features, luthiers, instrument problems & questions

You've got the nickel & dime idea WRONG. 

The strings should just touch a dime setting next to the first fret.

They should also just touch a nickel balanced on top of the 7th fret not the 6th fret.

If open strings are sharp before playing  -- how sharp is sharp?? A few cents?  Half way across the dial?  If the instrument is in tune when you put it away --- and is sharp when you come back to play again -- you have some serious environmental issues going on.  Where are you storing it.  in direct sunlight at any time?  In a cold back room?

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
11/26/20 05:09:07PM
1,767 posts

What's fer dinner?


OFF TOPIC discussions

Dinner for four instead of twelve or more this year. 

I made red-cooked turkey breast, walnut-lentil loaf for vegetarian Lady Sally, dressing, fresh cranberry mold (no canned stuff), sweet-and-Yukon potatoes au gratin, green beans with shaved almonds, sunshine lemon pie and a nut and graham cracker topped cheesecake.

Others watched the parade while I made The Meal.  Afterwards we took a two hour nap.  Spending time now researching background for a new historical fiction novel I'm working on -- set 30 years either side of 1066 in the area that will become the Anglo-Scottish Borders.

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
11/25/20 04:19:21PM
1,767 posts

New McSpadden Flatwater Dulcimers


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Looks good.  I don't think there has been a production trapezoid-shape ever, except for the cardboard dulcimers; they've always been one-offs by individual builders.  Looks good and sounds good, and it's a decent price point.

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
11/25/20 01:44:17PM
1,767 posts

New McSpadden Flatwater Dulcimers


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

At $265 it's not a version of a $75 cardboard dulcimer!  Call it an Entry Level instrument.  Good to see though that they're being more frugal  -- using not necessarily uber-attractive pieces of wood for their own builds.  

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
11/24/20 01:47:10PM
1,767 posts

Curved back dulcimers


Instruments- discuss specific features, luthiers, instrument problems & questions

There are two curved backs of course which can be utilized separately or together.  Curve from fore to aft; and curve from side to side.  Each by itself is easy enough to incorporate into a design.  I've seen dulcimers with 1/8" rise from side to side or head to tail.  Several builders incorporate one of these two techniques to help direct the sound upward (to what degree this is successful I don't believe anyone has subjectively proven).

A 'bowl back' is hard to accomplish unless the builder starts with a thicker plank and "carves" the bowl shape into what will become the inside of the instrument.  This is done the same way a violin top is carved -- with chisels, rasps and sanding.  I don't know anyone who does this for backs-- it is certainly time consuming -- but Ken Bloom does it for the soundboards on his bowed dulcimers, but not, I think on the back.

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
11/24/20 07:00:36AM
1,767 posts

Native American Flutes


Adventures with 'other' instruments...

I like your flute case.  Great use of PVC.  I'll have to make a couple of those for some of my handmade bamboo Mirliton flutes.

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
11/22/20 11:21:02PM
1,767 posts

No wonder everyone has more than one.


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Let's see... 7 dulcemores and 1 dulcimer; in two different keys and four tunings.

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
11/22/20 04:48:34PM
1,767 posts

How to re-glue a bridge


Instruments- discuss specific features, luthiers, instrument problems & questions

That other Ken has given you the straight dope.duck   The "intonation"  as you call it is set by the distance from the inside edge of the nut to the face of the bridge. Just don't use epoxy or "super glue" as they are realllly hard to remove if needed.  Titebond can be released by an appropriate application of heat.

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
11/18/20 11:07:37AM
1,767 posts

McSpadden v. Folkcraft?


Instruments- discuss specific features, luthiers, instrument problems & questions

LisavB -- for the record, most of us who build instruments get as excited as you are when we string up a new build and bring it to life for the very first time.  Every dulcimer has its own voice, created by us and brought to life by the player.

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
11/17/20 01:27:05PM
1,767 posts

Bridge and Nut fix question


Instruments- discuss specific features, luthiers, instrument problems & questions

No real excuse for a high action on a mountain dulcimer.  Slides and tremelos are easier to do with a properly set action.

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
11/16/20 04:12:14PM
1,767 posts

Bridge and Nut fix question


Instruments- discuss specific features, luthiers, instrument problems & questions

V notches are much more "acceptable" as string notches!    The string, regardless of gauge, will settle into the bottom of the V and not move back and forth.  The U shaped notches allow small diameter strings to shift back and forth which can cause issues including odd noises.  

For the gauge of strings shown, the V notch is not too deep or too shallow.  A notch does not need to be more that 2x the string diameter deep.    The fact that one string of the couplet will set not as deep as the other, might conceivably cause an issue, but the individual strings of a melody couplet aren't picked individually.

If you have a small triangular file you could deepen the new notch a hair with a couple strokes of the file.  I have a cheap set of half a dozen jewelers files that I got from Ace Hardware for under $10, and the triangle file has made a few hundred perfect notches.

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
11/16/20 11:22:58AM
1,767 posts

Bridge and Nut fix question


Instruments- discuss specific features, luthiers, instrument problems & questions

Can't really tell what we're seeing here.  There appear to be a V notch and a couple round bottom slots, but what's the old and what's the new and where's the edge of the fretboard.  Which is which?  Are the round bottom slots the new fixes?

A saw slot is a fix.  But as a luthier I would have asked whether you wanted new slots or a new nut/bridge. 

Does the fix work or are you getting weird tones?  You should have said something to this person at the time, or specified "cut new slots versus replace the nut/bridge,  

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
11/08/20 05:27:03PM
1,767 posts

Where do I add the Strap Buttons on a OLD McSpadden.


Instruments- discuss specific features, luthiers, instrument problems & questions

Usually under the flathead near the bottom and the same low-location on the tail block.

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
11/07/20 11:29:05PM
1,767 posts

It Came today.


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Congrats on your new friend.  FWIW, who signs a McSpadden dulcimer has nothing to do with who built it.  Maybe back in the 60s when Lynn was just getting started, but every instrument since then is a group construction effort.

Little bit of terminology for you.  When you say you're going to tune dADD, do you mean it has two melody strings?  Or two bass strings? 

These days we almost always describe a tuning from the bass string to the melody.  That is DAA or DAd -- the bass string is D, the middle drone is A.  Also, if you have doubled melody strings, we mostly don't write two letters -- DAdd -- unless the two strings a different notes like DAdA.  Lastly, the capital D is more or less reserved for D4 -- one note higher than middle C.  The lower case d indicates that that string is one octave higher in pitch than the D.  So, we mostly write DAd or perhaps DAdd meaning the bass string is D the middle drone is A five notes higher, and the melody string(s) are d, an octave higher than D.

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
11/07/20 11:15:09PM
1,767 posts

Dulcimer Dimensions


Instruments- discuss specific features, luthiers, instrument problems & questions

One person's "jumbo" is another person's average.  Did you actually compare the listed dimensions to the instrument you already have in hand to see how different it was going to be?  Is the new body significantly wider, deeper, longer than the one you have in hand?

Is it common to be only "near"?  "What's "near"?  Your "near" may be my "rounded up". 

Is it common to be "only near" when describing a dulcimer?   Probably.  Depends on the builder/website where you ordered.  Was it a mass market outfit like MusicMakers, or a custom builder?  

Not everyone (hardly anyone) measures and reports dulcimer specifications to the nearest millimeter.   Forget "overall length".  That's a measurement only truly useful for a shipping department and has virtually no significance to the sound quality because tuning heads and tail blocks extend beyond the vibrating body of the instrument.   If an instrument I build is 38-13/16" overall length (a measurement almost no one cares about),   I would not hesitate to say it was 39" long.  

What does matter to the sound quality of an instrument is the interior volume of the body (cubic inches under the hood), but certainly not fractions of an inch or a few cubic inches.  A dulcimer of a given shape which is 1.5" deep and 5.5" wide, will be less "mellow" than the same shape of dulcimer which is 3" deep and 8" wide.   

VSL not being exact?  Often.  We often talk about a 27" VSL because it's a convenient number and trips nicely on the tongue.  Much nicer than saying  "twenty-seven and one quarter inches" every time you talk about VSL.   Many are actually built to 27.25" or even 27.5".  Why? because there are common frets-pacing calculators that are set for 27.25" for example, and a quarter inch difference is not going to affect the sound of your instrument in any way that 99.9% of people have any way of measuring.  There are certainly more substantial differences between 26" and 27", or 27" and 28".  Substantial meaning perhaps 1/10" differences in fret spacing -- but not significantly effecting the sound.

If you feel the seller has lied to you, why not contact him/her directly?

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
11/07/20 04:13:36PM
1,767 posts

About Picks.


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Picks are very subjective and very personal to each player, that's for sure.  I make wood and bamboo 'strummer' picks, and have picks made from ivory-nut palm, various plastics (credit cards, plastic strapping, etc), corset stays, and large bird primary wing quills.

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
11/05/20 10:48:49AM
1,767 posts

McSpadden v. Folkcraft?


Instruments- discuss specific features, luthiers, instrument problems & questions

@LisavB -- wood types are strictly subjective.  There are over a hundred variables that can affect the sound of a dulcimer, and wood choice is pretty far down the list -- not even top ten. 

A good luthier can make plastic or cardboard or balsa wood sound really good. A recent Winfield dulcimer champion played a cardboard dulcimer.  

I always recommend that you buy the dulcimer that LOOKS the best -- woods you like the look of -- and coincidentally sounds good as well.  Don't buy a spruce top, or walnut body or cherry/maple instrument because someone tells you it's more mellow or whatever.  Buy what sounds good -- to your ears.  A good luthier will play you various instruments he/she has in stock -- over the phone if you can't shop in person.  All you have to do is ask.  

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
11/03/20 10:55:20PM
1,767 posts

Questions about the bridge


Instruments- discuss specific features, luthiers, instrument problems & questions

Looks like some form of Delrin plastic -- essentially the same thing they use today.  Doesn't look like bone.

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
11/02/20 02:13:06PM
1,767 posts

Can you tell me about a Ron Gibson Barbara Ellen 3 String


Instruments- discuss specific features, luthiers, instrument problems & questions

Ron Gibson makes very fine instruments.  I've played several but don't own one. 

The Barbara Allen tm model is Ron's nod to a traditional teardrop shaped 'Virginia' style dulcimer; but with a deeper than traditional body and the 6+ and 13+ frets which, as the + sign indicates, are not traditional.  Check out his website.

DAd, DAA, and CGG can all be tuned from the same set of strings.  DAA and CGG are the same Ionian Mode tuning but one is the key of D, the other key of C.  DAd is also called Mixolydian Mode.  The melody string in DAd or CGc is tuned an octave higher than the bass string note, usually indicated by the lowercase letter d or c.

Tuning up to Ggg is not particularly "Asian", but it will require different strings to prevent snapping the bass string.  It is what we call a Bagpipe Tuning in the key of G.  The three strings are all tuned to G but the middle and melody strings are tuned an octave higher than the bass string.   

You may want to have a read of the article/booklet I wrote a number of years ago which answers many beginner questions about tuning, playing, care and feeding of the dulcimer,  It's called I Just Got A Dulcimer, Now What?  and can be found here:

https://fotmd.com/forums/forum/dulcimer-resourcestabs-books-websites-dvds/17129/i-just-got-a-dulcimer-now-what-article
 

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
10/31/20 01:14:28PM
1,767 posts

Strings


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Lisa is correct, of course the actual tuning is DF#A, not DFA.  And the F# is higher than the bass string and lower than the Melody string. 

I use the Strothers String Calculator:  http://www.strothers.com/string_choice.html  You plug in the VSL of your instrument at the chosen open tuned notes you want.  The calculator is noticeably a bit light, so you can easily go 1 or 2 gauges higher.

I belong to the "change your tuning" school, not the "one tuning per instrument" so I'm constantly changing tunings to match my mood and the moods of the songs I play.

I spent close to 30 years tuning mostly to Ionian DAA and the minor Modes Aeolian DAC and Dorian DAG.  All based on one set of string gauges.  These days I mostly play dulcemores set up to play Bagpipe tunings Ddd and Cgg, and plus a museum replica fretted zither set up for Unison tunings of ddd and ccc, and another "high strung" for GDD.

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
10/31/20 09:03:44AM
1,767 posts

Strings


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

What are you currently tuned to??   DAd?  That .024 is a bit heavy -- .019 to .022 is more common.  An ideal string set for DFA (1-3-5) would be .020/.016/.012.   

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
10/25/20 08:37:47AM
1,767 posts

Bill Davis 1960’s Hourglass Dulcimer


Instruments- discuss specific features, luthiers, instrument problems & questions

Strothers String Calculator:  http://www.strothers.com/string_choice.html

Diameters of the strings will vary depending on the VSL and the Open tuning notes you want.  VSL is the distance between nut and bridge.  DAA will be slightly different that DAd,  CGG vs CGc the same.  A given set of strings will let you tune up or down two steps before getting too floppy or starting to break.

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
10/14/20 08:12:26PM
1,767 posts

Dulcimer repair question


Instruments- discuss specific features, luthiers, instrument problems & questions

Exactly right.  Those bits are designed to work in a multitude of situations.

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
10/14/20 10:38:40AM
1,767 posts

Dulcimer repair question


Instruments- discuss specific features, luthiers, instrument problems & questions

After you trim the nut/bridge to length and slot fit, you're ready for The Nickel & Dime Action Adjustment!  You'll need: strings, a nickel, a dime, more of that sandpaper 60 grit and maybe 100 grit, and a hard-flat surface to sand on,

1.  Put the Nut and bridge in place.
2.  Put the strings on tight, but not tightened all the way to pitch tuned.
3.  Set the Dime next to the 1st fret; notice how large the gap is on both sides.  
4.  Balance the Nickel on top of the 7th fret (not the 6+ fret) and notice the gap there as well.
5.  Slack the strings enough to slide the Nut out of its slot.
6.  Place some 60 grit sandpaper on your hard surface, grit up
7.  Sand a dozen or 20 strokes off of the bottom of the Nut.
8.  Slide the nut back into place and re-tighten the strings.  Notice the gap.
9.  Repeat Steps 5-8 until the strings are almost touching the surface of the dime.

Now it's time to work the Bridge end of things.

1.  Slack the strings and slide the Bridge out of its slot.
2.  Sand a dozen or 20 strokes off of the bottom of the Bridge.
3.  Slide the bridge back in place and tighten the strings. 
4.  Balance the Nickel on top of the 7th fret and check the gap.
5.  Rinse & repeat until the strings are just touching the nickel on top of the 7th fret
6.  Now that the Bridge is lowered, you can go back, if you want, to the Nut
     and lower the strings a tiny bit more using some 100 grit sandpaper, if you want,,,

This is not the absolute lowest Action height you can have, but it's a good place to start.





Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
10/08/20 07:02:17AM
1,767 posts

Updated website for Knopf Dulcimers


FOR SALE:instruments/music items/CDs/Wanted to Buy...

Nice site, John, and even the new prices are a really good buy.  I love my Knopf/Thomas replica!   Guess I never realized that you build a modern Scott Antes style dulcimer with geared tuners in addition to your replica dulcemores.

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
10/08/20 06:46:59AM
1,767 posts

Dulcimer repair question


Instruments- discuss specific features, luthiers, instrument problems & questions

When you're ready to set the new nuts/bridges, start a new thread here so that we can talk you through the simple process of setting the "action height" -- distance of strings above frets -- to something that won't slice your fingers!


updated by @ken-hulme: 10/08/20 06:47:38AM
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
10/07/20 02:11:20PM
1,767 posts

Dulcimer repair question


Instruments- discuss specific features, luthiers, instrument problems & questions

Thanx Ken, I completely missed the bridge in that second photo.  You're right, that looks like a common Delrin(tm) bridge from McSpad or Folkcraft, and it really needs replacing.  

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
10/07/20 07:17:59AM
1,767 posts

Dulcimer repair question


Instruments- discuss specific features, luthiers, instrument problems & questions

Those brass brads are very common as string pins even among the best of dulcimer builders; they do not get tapped in to hold the string in place.  Pressure of the strings being tightened is what holds the strings on the pins.   

Are the existing pins actually loose, or are you just interested in making them look more aesthetically pleasing?  

The 'odd' bit is that someone used a ball-end string to make a loop-end rather than using all loop end strings.  I suggest using only loop-end strings on instruments with this string-pin arrangement.  Or, if you want to be able to use ball-end strings as well as loop-ends, use headless string pins of small enough diameter that the ball of ball-end strings can be slid onto the shaft of the pin.

The simplest repair is to just put new 1" brads in place a half-inch up from the old positions.  Sink them in about as far as the existing brads -- say 3/4" deep,  Then sand and fill the old holes with glue-dust or wood putty.

You didn't post any photos of the nuts/bridges, so we can't tell what kind they are, how they are set into or onto the fretboard, or whether they actually need replacing.  

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
10/04/20 04:04:23PM
1,767 posts

How do I know what key I'm in?


Playing and jamming difficulties...HELP ME!

Normally, "the key I'm in" is the open note of the Bass string.  That is, the entire instrument is tuned to a particular keynote -- C, D, G, whatever.  

The + frets are not there to supply notes -- not just sharps or flats -- above and beyond the diatonic scale.  The 6+ fret in particular was added to the fretboard because people wanted to be able to play a C natural as well as the C# which is 'natural' to that diatonic scale. 

When I first learned all this we talked about Modes, and the idea that players wanted to be able to play in more than one Mode with re-tuning.  DAA (a.k.a. Ionian Mode) is what guitar folks think of as the Natural Major Scale.  DAd (a.k.a. Mixolydian Mode) is almost the same -- except that the 7th note of the scale is "flatted" (a half step below what it would be in the Natural Major scale).  The 6+ fret was added so that players could play both the natural and the flatted 7th note of a scale starting on the Open fret.

Years ago I wrote the attached article about modes (scales) and the diatonic nature of the dulcimer.  It might help you understand things...


Uncontrite Modal Folker.pdf - 92KB
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
09/29/20 03:57:59PM
1,767 posts

Help me identify this MD (if at all possible)


Instruments- discuss specific features, luthiers, instrument problems & questions

File for "fit" reasons not aesthetics.  A string will normally set firmly into a V notch, but can slip around inside a saw kerf.  I have a set of small jewelers flies - triangle, square, round, half round -- that attach to an included handle.  I think the set was $10 at Ace hardware.

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
09/29/20 02:09:24PM
1,767 posts

Help me identify this MD (if at all possible)


Instruments- discuss specific features, luthiers, instrument problems & questions

FWIW, we almost never leave a nut or bridge full height and cut slots down into it; we cut the height of a blank down to something reasonable and use a triangular file to make the notches (they don't have to be very deep -- not more than 2x the diameter of the string).

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
09/15/20 07:04:58AM
1,767 posts

I ordered my own dulcimer


Instruments- discuss specific features, luthiers, instrument problems & questions

Congrats on a new BFF!   Actually, you could tune it B-F-F and play DAA two steps lower!

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
09/03/20 06:24:48PM
1,767 posts

Want to get a fretting printout for a 24" VSL


Dulcimer Resources:TABS/Books/websites/DVDs

Patty -- you probably will not find a dulcimer fret calculator that includes all those plus frets.  The Wfret calculator does include 6+ and 13+ but not the 1+ and 8+.   This is the only calculator I know of which actually allows you to print out a template which you can then tack-glue to the fretboard for cutting.  All other calculators simply give you a list of fret positions in inches or millimeters.  Use millimeters, they're more accurate.

Simplest solution is probably to use a guitar fret calculator, which will have all the chromatic frets.  Then ignore the frets you don't want. 

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
09/02/20 11:24:59PM
1,767 posts

Choice of Wood: Pertinent or Purism?


Instruments- discuss specific features, luthiers, instrument problems & questions

@cj-smith asked "Given the same craftmanship (2 dulcimers built by the same quality builder), what do you hear is the difference in particular woods."

A competent luthier can "tune" a dulcimer to create whatever "sound" you want to hear.  There are at least a hundred variables which affect the sound of a dulcimer, and wood type is pretty darn far down the list.  

Talk to the luthier and tell him what sound you are looking for.  Ask him to play the three you are considering over the phone for you.   Buy the one that sounds the best to you.  Or buy the one you consider the prettiest. 

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
08/28/20 01:30:37PM
1,767 posts

Loaner Dulcimer


Instruments- discuss specific features, luthiers, instrument problems & questions

Capitals and accent marks indicate the octaves.  The first letter of a tuning name is usually the bass string, then the Middle Drone, lastly the Melody string(s).  CGG/CGc and DAA/DAd are the most common tunings.

C D E F G A B c d e f g a b

The Bass string is usually C or D.  The Middle Drone is then G or A.  If you are tuning to CGG or DAA, the melody string(s) ae the same as the Middle Drone.  If you are tuning CGc or DAd, the Melody string(s) are an octave higher in pitch -- as indicated by the lower case letters c or d.  If you refer to the line of letters above, and count 8 letters to the right of C or D, you will find c or d.   

The system goes both higher and lower than shown here, with accent marks indicating other octaves.

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
08/28/20 10:20:33AM
1,767 posts

Are there fretless dulcimers?


Instruments- discuss specific features, luthiers, instrument problems & questions

Randy is "da bomb" when it comes to fretless dulcimers.  I don' think you can call the sound "sweeter"... just different.

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
08/28/20 10:17:14AM
1,767 posts

Loaner Dulcimer


Instruments- discuss specific features, luthiers, instrument problems & questions

Not necessarily "one size down".  The Strothers string gauge calculator shows that for a 29" VSL tuned DAA/DAd or CGG/CGc, you want .010 for the two Melody strings, a .012 for the Middle Drone, and a .020 wound string.
,

Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
08/28/20 07:06:52AM
1,767 posts

Choice of Wood: Pertinent or Purism?


Instruments- discuss specific features, luthiers, instrument problems & questions

1.  Yes -- as far as we can hear, the prejudice against plywood is that it is "dirt cheap" and therefore not good.  FALSE

2.  Spruce/redwood for dulcimer tops, IMHO is not worth the expense.  In guitars, yes.  But dulcimers do not create sound the same way, and the "good" that spruce does in a guitar is negated in a dulcimer because the top is so small and further, is muted by the fretboad.

3.  Body wood choice is just one of close to a hundred factors which affect the sound of a dulcimer and is overshadowed by the other 99 factors.

Again, IMHO, dulcimer buyers have been sold "a bill of goods"  about the importance of exotic, expensive, sexy-looking woods in making dulcimers.  As you said, extremely common woods like poplar make absolutely beautiful sounding instruments.

You asked "Is it a matter of the best luthiers choosing the woods that make the subtly best differences, thereby choice of wood could imply a level of craftsmanship?"   

My answer is NO.  Almost no dulcimer builders have done any reliable, repeatable quantitatively measured experiments to prove "beyond a shadow of doubt" that any woods make any subtle or not so subtle differences in dulcimer sound. 

They would like you to think that because they use sexy, expensive woods that that implies "a certain high level of craftsmanship".  But it does not.  A high level of craftsmanship is found only in those dulcimer builders who can make any woods, or even materials like cardboard or Legos sound good.

[donning asbestos suit to weather incipient firestorm]

 /