Oddball double fretboard dulcimer

Lisa
Lisa
@lisa
4 months ago
21 posts

I wanted to add that I contacted the person selling it on consignment, and asked if they could find anything else out.  He responded that the dulcimer was purchased used, near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, at some unknown date by the seller.

Ken Longfield
Ken Longfield
@ken-longfield
4 months ago
573 posts

Interesting, very interesting.

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."

Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
4 months ago
1,615 posts

This dulcimer would be impossible to bow, no matter how you held it.  Even if you (ridiculously) tried to bow all 4 strings of each side at the same time (each set of 4 strings is laid out FLAT on its fret board half), if you look at the closeup, you'll see that because of the slanted fret board, an angled bow trying to bow it would be bashing into the lower body bout.  It's completely impossible to bow.

So- it's also not a courting dulcimer meant for two people- firstly, the fretboards are not in opposite directions. Secondly, even if the other player was a lefty, see how it would place the bass string nearer the lefthanded player's body and the two melody strings at far side of the player.  The odds of anyone playing this way and ALSO being lefthanded are almost non-existent.

This is simply a dulcimer someone made so that they could jump back and forth when they wanted to between a chromatic and a diatonic fretboard.  They could also have it tuned to two different keys if they liked playing in jams without having to retune or bring two instruments.  Maybe one fretboard was intended for playing old traditional ballads and the other intended for modern music/blues etc.  That would all also explain the electric pickup.
The two different slants for the fret boards enable one to angle the pick so you can play on one fret board while avoiding the other one.




--
Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
Ken Hulme
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
4 months ago
1,534 posts

There's a classic photo of an older woman bowing a regular dulcimer.  She sits back from the edge of a table with the tail of the dulcimer in her lap and the body leaned up against the edge of the table directly away from her.  This instrument could certainly be bowed that way.  But who knows!  Maybe it was a John Jacob Niles experiment!!

Robin Thompson
Robin Thompson
@robin-thompson
4 months ago
881 posts

I've bowed both lap dulcimer and bowed dulcimers. . . I couldn't imagine bowing this critter.  In my view, the design doesn't seem to lend itself to bowing.  




--
Robin T
one of the Moderators here :)
Keep a song in your heart!
Ken Hulme
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
4 months ago
1,534 posts

Bowed instruments are not played with the bow string parallel to the soundboard.  The bow string runs diagonally from the center of the strings to just above the edge of the instrument, on both sides:    /__\

Linda2
Linda2
@linda2
4 months ago
28 posts

This looks like a lot of fun, Lisa! Lucky!

 

Lisa
Lisa
@lisa
4 months ago
21 posts
Sorry, I forgot to mention it was an internet purchase and came to me from Gaithersburg, Maryland.
Bob
Bob
@bob
4 months ago
91 posts

Very cool. Its good to be in the hands of someone who will take care of it!

Susie
Susie
@susie
4 months ago
297 posts
Was that purchased locally in the U.P.?
Very interesting and unique.
Lisa
Lisa
@lisa
4 months ago
21 posts
I can't see how it could be bowed, as each fretboard is flat, but I'm not a bowed instrument player at all. It also has strap buttons, so maybe it was played standing up?
18201919409.jpg
18201919409.jpg  •  318KB

Lisa
Lisa
@lisa
4 months ago
21 posts
Robin, there's nothing known about it. It was being sold on consignment, with no info known from the seller. There's no label or makers marks at all, inside or out that I can see.
Ken Hulme
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
4 months ago
1,534 posts

The fretboard is set up so that you have both diatonic and chromatic frets.  Diatonic under all 7 strings, and chromatic only under the first three strings. 

HUGE amount of soundhole area -- far more than is needed. 

The way the fretboard is "radiused" with a ridge rather than a curve (never seen anything quite like that), plus the narrowness of the bouts makes me wonder if it wasn't intended to be a bowed instrument.


updated by @ken-hulme: 02/08/19 07:12:53PM
Robin Thompson
Robin Thompson
@robin-thompson
4 months ago
881 posts

Wow, Lisa, I don't recall ever seeing anything quite like this!  Do you know anything about when and where it was built? 




--
Robin T
one of the Moderators here :)
Keep a song in your heart!
Lisa
Lisa
@lisa
4 months ago
21 posts

Hi,

I wanted to share a picture of the used dulcimer I just got in the mail today.  I thought it was very unique, and wasn't too expensive, they listed it as poor condition.  Really, it's just homemade, an amateur build.  I don't care, I love this thing!  It's got great resonance and sustain, and the frets seem to be placed well, as it plays in tune pretty good. It's electric, but I think I need some adaptor as the plug opening is small.  I'm not overly interested in the electric feature, but will see if it works.

Thanks for looking, Lisa

 

182019172913.jpg
182019172913.jpg  •  178KB