why holes in fretboard?

Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
5 years ago
1,926 posts

Older types of dulcimers were usually played in the traditional (non-chordal) style, and if the fretboard was in the middle of the top of the instrument, a TALL fretboard made it easier to play with a noter in hand.  Rather than a tall fretboard being of solid wood (possibly lessening resonance), making it hollow allowed for more sound vibration and resonance.  In effect, a large tall hollow fretboard with its own sound holes was like having a very narrow scheitholt sitting on top of the larger body.  In fact, there are some old examples of mtn dulcimers that very much resemble a narrow schietholt built with a larger sound chamber body underneath it.  It's one of several possible paths of evolution or 'missing links' in the history of very early dulcimers and zitters in American.  More than one of those 'dulicmer evolution' paths may have occurred long ago in different regions.

As modern times approached, people began to play dulcimers more often in chording style, fretting all strings and making chords with the fingers, adding double melody strings- this all encouraged wider fretboards and the need for a tall fretboard that accommodated a noter was much less.  Dulcimer bodies became larger and fretboards became wider and less tall...and hollow tall fretboards became less needed for resonance or for noter comfort.




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Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990

updated by @strumelia: 11/08/16 10:08:12AM
robert schuler
robert schuler
@robert-schuler
5 years ago
241 posts

I use two holes in my tempered scale dulcimers and three in my Galax style dulcimers. My fingerboards are hollow and holes greatly improve tone. And most of all they look really cool... Robert.

Ken Hulme
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
5 years ago
1,799 posts

The Real story is that builders put tiny soundholes in the fretboard just so that people can ask  "Why".....

John C. Knopf
John C. Knopf
@john-c-knopf
5 years ago
241 posts

Ruth, the oldest dulcimers have come from Virginia, and they had no strum hollow, but they did have soundholes in the fretboard.

And a few had soundholes in the back as well.  They were a separate tradition from the Kentucky-style dulcimers that are prevalent now.

John Gribble
John Gribble
@john-gribble
5 years ago
117 posts

They are a form of sound hole, actually fairly common on traditional teardrop/ellipsis-shaped instruments. My Kevin Messenger dulcimer has them. They are not an impediment to finger-style playing at all. 

Ken Longfield
Ken Longfield
@ken-longfield
5 years ago
738 posts

Playing a Galax style dulcimer with those holes was usually done with a noter. This keeps the fingers from getting caught in the holes (grin).

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."


updated by @ken-longfield: 11/02/16 04:37:39PM
Ken Hulme
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
5 years ago
1,799 posts

Mainly the holes in the fretboard are to allow air to be pumped in and out of the box from the hollowed out area under the fretboard

Ruth Lawrence
Ruth Lawrence
@ruth-lawrence
5 years ago
41 posts
Hi everyone, a friend expressed interest in learning dulcimer and I was looking on Craigslist and saw this. It's advertised as Galax style. I noticed it has holes in the fretboard. Why would that be? Thx