Interesting looking dulcimer setup
General mountain dulcimer or music discussions
Thank you for posting this. That's a very interesting instrument..... whatever it is!
I couldn't wait so she got it already. Yes she likes it!!
Here's how it began... A while back my Mom told me her arthritis was making guitar playing impossible and she was going to give me her old nylon string guitar. She's played most of her life and taught me to play when I was eight years old. She also asked if I could think of another instrument she could accompany herself on when she sang. I loaned her my mountain dulcimer and showed her some basic chords. She took to it right away and had no problem with her hands. She was also happy it was a period instrument and fit right in with her volunteer work at the historical village in Columbus where she does reenactments of various characters in history.
My next mission was to find a dulcimer for her. I happened to run across information on a builder from Georgia named Johnny Pledger. I liked what I read and called Mr. Pledger to talk about his instruments. We had a good conversation about the dulcimer, guitar playing , the build and playability of his instruments and I decided to place an order. If it was not what I expected I could return it within seven days.
It arrived on Monday and it's quite nice. It's northern walnut (from Wisconsin I'm told) and sitka spruce. The wood used is beautiful and finished with tung oil. Once the strings settled in it holds DAd tuning very well and plays easily. I've seen new dulcimers in shops that cost more and didn't play this well. Intonation up and down the fretboard is good as well. My own dulcimer is Koa with a mahogany top and has a darker tone, perhaps more nasal or focused on the mids if that makes sense. It does not sound as open and bright as this walnut and sikta dulcimer. Both are nice voices but they are different. I know there are lots of dulcimer builders on the forum who build fine instruments but I thought I'd give Mr. Pledger a thumbs up and a thank you. Here are a couple photos. I'm trying to keep the lid on this until Mother's Day but I'm not sure I'll be able to do that. I'm really anxious to give it to her.
One little extra I asked for was to install pins or some means of keeping the extra d string off the fretboard when it's not being used.
He installed a pair of small screws at the nut and saddle. It works great. The reverse scroll head is his design. I like it.
I've tried to tilt my dulcimer up as described here. The instrument does resonate much better that way but certain fingerings are also more challenging. Just have to stick with it I guess. Somewhere between the angle of the tilt and how much you point the dulcimer away from you seems to be the key.
Someone mentioned putting it on a hard surface like a table top. I'll have to try that. I'm a telephone tech of 30 years. Putting the phone (an old phone with REAL bells) on a hard surface was a good cure for customers who were hard of hearing and often made the difference in hearing the phone or not hearing the phone when it rang.