Starting a new dulcimer

John C. Knopf
@john-c-knopf
6 months ago
161 posts

Doug, Ken is correct.  Building a good kit is very helpful in learning the process and the parts without having to sweat the important details right away.

Ken Longfield
@ken-longfield
6 months ago
527 posts

Hi Doug,

Start with a plan, either a blueprint or a book. You can do an Internet search to find places that sell them. I think both Elderly Instruments and the Dulcimer Shoppe sell Scott Antes plans. Dean Kimball's book is still on available and I think Amazon carries it. Have fun building dulcimers.

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."

Bob
@bob
6 months ago
129 posts

Hi Doug,

That's great news about your wanting to build dulcimers! And being an experienced woodworker is a great help.

My brother-in-law had asked me the same question, but he had little woodworking experience.  One suggestion I had for him was to begin with getting a quality dulcimer kit- that way he could get a good idea of the various parts and the way the various parts come together (with hopeful some step-by-step instructions). As it comes together, he would have a pretty good, working knowledge of what goes into making one. In time and with experience, personal skills can dictate what you may bring to your own creations, weather it be the type of woods you like, or the dulcimer body shape or the tuning head style, and even down to the string anchors and sound holes. 'Personalisation' is what makes these instruments as wonderful and varied as they can be, as well as a legitimate art form (yes, even 'folk art")

I am sure that there are lots of different ways, and each maker has his own process. I am not really proficient but make a few when time is available. Try looking through the internet as well. I have seen many people document how they make an instrument (dulcimers, Violins, guitars and even ancient instrument recreations). I have a taken photos of how I made one or two, showing the various things I do in making them, from connecting the head and tail to the sides, as well as carving a tuning scroll, etc.

Hope this brief reply is helpful. I really wish you lots of fun and enjoyment in your creative journey! Please don't hesitate to ask people in this great forum any questions. I know I have been aided a lot here!

All the best to you-

~Bob

p.s: yes! Mahogany is a wonderful wood for dulcimers!


updated by @bob: 04/19/17 01:06:13PM
Doug Reid
@doug-reid
6 months ago
1 posts

My brother and I are experienced woodworkers and want to try our hand at building a few dulcimers. I am a novice player. Any suggestions on where we should start?

Also, I have some very nice, old mahogany; is this a recommended wood?

Sheryl St. Clare
@sheryl-st-clare
8 months ago
335 posts

Gorgeous. Beautiful. clap

Bob
@bob
8 months ago
129 posts

Ken Longfield:

Looks good, Bob. I have cuts all over my hands from work I did this weekend. I'll try to take a few photos tonight and post them - of the work, not the cuts.

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a new song."

Thanks Ken- would love to see your work-- I am sure the cuts were well worth it!

Ken Longfield
@ken-longfield
8 months ago
527 posts

Looks good, Bob. I have cuts all over my hands from work I did this weekend. I'll try to take a few photos tonight and post them - of the work, not the cuts.

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a new song."

Bee Lick Farm
@bee-lick-farm
8 months ago
37 posts

Bob: Thanks . And I already got a bleeding finger making that dulcimer!

 

Ha! Merely a flesh wound. Play On!

 

 

Bob
@bob
8 months ago
129 posts

Kusani:

VERY nice job.  I hope you are pleased with the sound. 

Thanks and yes, very pleased with the sound thumbsup

Bob
@bob
8 months ago
129 posts

Kusani:

VERY nice job.  I hope you are pleased with the sound. 

I learned something new with this instrument. I was thinking the frets were a bit off as I played the higher notes, which got me really upset. Then I realized that I needed to tune it much more carefully, as the "sympathetic strings" need to be just right or the melody string would be off. Now, it sounds just amazing. My favorite so far!

Bob
@bob
8 months ago
129 posts

Bee Lick Farm:

Absolutely beautiful.

Now go wear the first set of string out. Play it until the strings are in shreds and your fingers bleed.

Really wonderful job, looks fantastic. Congrats!

Thanks . And I already got a bleeding finger making that dulcimer!

Bee Lick Farm
@bee-lick-farm
8 months ago
37 posts

Absolutely beautiful.

Now go wear the first set of string out. Play it until the strings are in shreds and your fingers bleed.

Really wonderful job, looks fantastic. Congrats!

Kusani
@kusani
9 months ago
178 posts

VERY nice job.  I hope you are pleased with the sound. 

Bob
@bob
9 months ago
129 posts

Well, today I have finished building my newest Appalachian Dulcimer. I am pretty happy with it. Have learned a few things on this one too (I am learning as I go). I like the finish (a wipe on Polly) and let it "cure" a few days before stringing it. The geared planetary pegs (my first time using them) will make tuning easier I am sure!  I think it will be fun to play! 


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Bob
@bob
9 months ago
129 posts

Lynn austin:

Wow, another beauty Bob!  It's interesting how you faded out the Purple Heart in the strum hollow.  Love the weeping heart lower sounholes!

Thanks Lynn- its always exciting to see how these turn out. I am finding that design ideas just come to mind as it comes along.

Lynn austin
@lynn-austin
9 months ago
47 posts

Wow, another beauty Bob!  It's interesting how you faded out the Purple Heart in the strum hollow.  Love the weeping heart lower sounholes!

Bob
@bob
9 months ago
129 posts

Some more work on the new dulcimer- it's ready for final sanding, lacquering and installing the hardware...

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Kusani
@kusani
9 months ago
178 posts

Very nice work!!!  :)

 

Lynn austin
@lynn-austin
9 months ago
47 posts

Such fun watching your progress Bob. Thanks for sharing your photos and information. A lot of us can learn from you. You make it look so easy!!!!

Bob
@bob
9 months ago
129 posts

I finished cutting, carving and filing the sound holes for the Cherry top. After it is glued to the dulcimer body, the edges will be trimmed. 

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Bob
@bob
9 months ago
129 posts

Mark Runge:

Really pretty. I love to woods you chose together!

Thanks- Wood selection was fun. I was lucky to find a great source for the Purple Heart!

Bob
@bob
9 months ago
129 posts

Kusani:

Nice work.  I cut my sound holes before glueing the top on.  What tool(s) do you use to cut them?

I also cut the sound holes before gluing the top (or the finger board) down as well. (The parts shown are just 'dry fit" without glue at this stage.)

For the sound holes I use a drill to make the pilot holes. Then a coping saw to rough-out the shape, and then just the coping saw blade (no handle ) to do more detailedl work. Finish up with needle files and very fine sand paper.

Mark Runge
@mark-kungfucracker-runge
9 months ago
28 posts

Really pretty. I love to woods you chose together!

Kusani
@kusani
9 months ago
178 posts

Nice work.  I cut my sound holes before glueing the top on.  What tool(s) do you use to cut them?

Ken Longfield
@ken-longfield
9 months ago
527 posts

Looking good.

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."

Bob
@bob
9 months ago
129 posts

Had a few more hours to work on the dulcimer yesterday. Got the bottom glued and trimmed and now working on the Cherry top... it is coming along slow but sure.

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Bee Lick Farm
@bee-lick-farm
10 months ago
37 posts

That's looking Great man!

Rock on.

Bob
@bob
10 months ago
129 posts

IRENE:

I'm soooooooooooooo impressed!!!  purple heart is NOT easy to work with, and yes, you have used soft lines. lovely.  and I've gone to using banjo tuning machines too but would like to know what kind you got here.  Ha, 7 hours at the bench....I bet it got dark outside and you wondered where the time went. Thanks for keeping us in the show and tell on this new dulcimer.  aloha, irene

Thank you so much Irene. Time really  does fly by when I get going at the bench! The tuners are StewMac Five Star Planet tuners. Looks like they will install nicely. Up until now I have just been using friction pegs, but its a challenge tuning with them at times. I think these will make tuning a breeze.


updated by @bob: 01/03/17 09:09:35PM
IRENE
@irene
10 months ago
56 posts

I'm soooooooooooooo impressed!!!  purple heart is NOT easy to work with, and yes, you have used soft lines. lovely.  and I've gone to using banjo tuning machines too but would like to know what kind you got here.  Ha, 7 hours at the bench....I bet it got dark outside and you wondered where the time went. Thanks for keeping us in the show and tell on this new dulcimer.  aloha, irene

Bob
@bob
10 months ago
129 posts

Mark Runge:

I love how soft you made the wood appear. Beautiful lines! I've only made one out of Purple Heart, and a carved really nicely. Looks like yours did too!

Thanks Mark. Purple Heart is lovely to work with. It is sure dense and has the quality of mahogany. I am excited to see how it finishes up :)

Bob
@bob
10 months ago
129 posts

Kusani:

Nice carving, some day I'm going to try that, maybe. clap

Do try it- It's a lot of fun!

Mark Runge
@mark-kungfucracker-runge
10 months ago
28 posts

I love how soft you made the wood appear. Beautiful lines! I've only made one out of Purple Heart, and a carved really nicely. Looks like yours did too!

Kusani
@kusani
10 months ago
178 posts

Nice carving, some day I'm going to try that, maybe. clap


updated by @kusani: 01/02/17 06:14:35PM
Bob
@bob
10 months ago
129 posts

I got started on my next dulcimer- of Purple Heart )Tuning Head, Fret Board and Tail; Cherry top and African Mahogany sides and bottom.

I had seven lovely hours today at the work bench carving the tuning scroll. This guy will have Banjo Tuners, my first dulcimer to sport machine tuners, which should be nice.

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