Looking for a Small Dulcimer

Tom McShane
Tom McShane
@tom-mcshane
one month ago
2 posts

Just want to throw this in:
I have been making this small dulcimer for years. It's a Teardrop Dulcimer for Kids & Small Hands. 
The reviews on Esty have been very positive. 
If you happen to own one, I would appreciate feedback, and maybe start a discussion. I am always looking for improvements.

During November, I am offering free personalization [see listing]

It can be found here in my Etsy shop:
https://www.etsy.com/listing/681037717/dulcimer-for-kids-small-hands

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Wally Venable
Wally Venable
@wally-venable
8 months ago
27 posts

Thanks for pointing out the CAPRITAURUS DULCIMER. At over $600, it is well above my friend's price range.

After my telling her about the available options she has decided to buy her own new small Apple Creek instrument. They are readily available for under $150 with case.

Noah Cline
Noah Cline
@noah-cline
8 months ago
7 posts

I read this discussion the other week. I just came across this 23” scale Capritaurus on eBay and thought I might share. I have no affiliation with the seller. Might be a good candidate, though I really don’t have much experience with other dulcimer makes besides my own builds. https://www.ebay.com/itm/CAPRITAURUS-DULCIMER-23-VSL-MINT-/125190762801?mkcid=16&mkevt=1&_trksid=p2349624.m46890.l6249&mkrid=711-127632-2357-0

Susie
Susie
@susie
9 months ago
482 posts

The VSL on a Black Mountain is a little longer than you stated, but they cost less than the Gingers. They are pretty decent dulcimers. Just trying to give you ideas.

https://blackmtninstruments.com/buy-dulcimers/

Susie
Susie
@susie
9 months ago
482 posts

Wally Venable:

I'm sure it would be a good choice, but, at $500+ without case, I don't know if it is within her price range.

The Ginger DOES come with a real nice soft case.

Wally Venable
Wally Venable
@wally-venable
9 months ago
27 posts

Oops. I thought I had indicated that our local group is tuned DAA. I guess I assumed that mentioning the Apple Creek dulcimer and posting here had covered it. Sorry.

I'm collecting the suggestions.

As Susie noted, things like the Little Dulcimers List tend to drift out of date. There isn't a strong sustained demand for 24 VSL instruments. I've built several, but don't add my name to the list, 'cause I build straight sided things for personal use. I could use my home-built band saw to do a sawn frame build, but I won't.

Looking for the McSpadden Ginger has an interesting result. When you Google it the page says " 26" Fret Scale Dulcimer ". You have to click on a particular Ginger model to get the "23 3/16" fretboard" and "Optional setups are ... and D-A-AA" information. I'm sure it would be a good choice, but, at $500+ without case, I don't know if it is within her price range.

Lisa Golladay
Lisa Golladay
@lisa-golladay
9 months ago
108 posts

Folkcraft will build your choice of scale: 23", 24", 25" and up.

A McSpadden Ginger sings beautifully in DAD or DAA with the strings they recommend for D tuning.

A Ron Ewing dulcimette (not the baritone dulcimette) is designed for DAD tuning one octave higher than standard. The string tension in D is higher than I like, so I usually tune mine down to C or lower. I, too, am toying with the idea of a baritone dulcimette because the little Ewing dulcimers are marvelous :-)

Susie
Susie
@susie
9 months ago
482 posts

Dusty Turtle:


I have one of Ron Ewing's baritone dulcimettes and I absolutely love it.  Tight construction, low action, crisp, clear sound.  However, it is tuned usually to G or A rather than D, and the VSL is only about 21 inches, so it may not be perfect for this case.  That's why I recommended a McSpadden Ginger.



That's why I asked Wally what tuning his friend wanted. I agree, your baritone dulcimette is gorgeous and has a great voice.  It sounds like she's just starting out, so my guess is she'd want a dulcimer in D tuning, to learn and play with groups. Many of these little dulcimers are for those of us who already have standard dulcimers and are looking for alternate tunings and fun little dulcimers to complement what we already have. Maybe Wally will get back with us and let us know. Hey, even I am still toying with the idea of a Ewing baritone ducimettte. wasntme

Dusty Turtle
Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
9 months ago
1,616 posts

I have one of Ron Ewing's baritone dulcimettes and I absolutely love it.  Tight construction, low action, crisp, clear sound.  However, it is tuned usually to G or A rather than D, and the VSL is only about 21 inches, so it may not be perfect for this case.  That's why I recommended a McSpadden Ginger.




--
Dusty T., Northern California
Site Moderator

As a musician, you have to keep one foot back in the past and one foot forward into the future.
-- Dizzy Gillespie
Susie
Susie
@susie
9 months ago
482 posts

Wally Venable:

We have a friend who is looking for a small dulcimer. She is currently playing a borrowed small Apple Creek instrument. She has tried "full size" instruments and is uncomfortable with them.

I would describe her desires as follows:

24 inch VSL
Hourglass body
Geared tuners
6 1/2 fret
Holes you can't drop a pick in
Good sound
Not looking for a specific wood
New or used OK
Moderate price

Any suggestions?

Does your friend want standard D tuning? 

Many of the little dulcimers are set up for alternate tunings (usually G or A). So that's something to keep in mind. 

Banjimer
Banjimer
@greg-gunner
9 months ago
141 posts

Check out Ron Ewing's baritone dulcimette.

Banjimer
Banjimer
@greg-gunner
9 months ago
141 posts

Ron Ewing makes finely crafted instruments in a variety of shapes and sizes.  His dulcimers are worth a closer look.

Dusty Turtle
Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
9 months ago
1,616 posts

The McSpadden Ginger is the obvious choice.  The VSL is just over 23 inches.  McSpadden will set it up either to tune like a standard dulcimer to the key of D or a 4th or 5th higher to G or A.

Susie mentioned the " Little Dulcimers Little List " that I put together several years ago. It needs to be updated, since some of those luthiers are no longer active and there may be some new kids in town.  But it's still a good place to start.




--
Dusty T., Northern California
Site Moderator

As a musician, you have to keep one foot back in the past and one foot forward into the future.
-- Dizzy Gillespie
Ken Hulme
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
9 months ago
2,006 posts

Wally -- I could do something like a finished version of that kit your wife won last year at Berea.  Mushroom frets and geared tuners instead of staple frets and wood or autoharp pin tuners.

Susie
Susie
@susie
9 months ago
482 posts

I have two McSpadden Gingers, which I love. You can have them set up for standard D tuning. They check most of the boxes you have listed. They are quality made, sound great, and are a joy to play. 

Also, in the groups, check out the "Little Dulcimers" group, where you'll see a "Little Dulcimers Little List". Very helpful when looking for a smaller dulcimer.

Wally Venable
Wally Venable
@wally-venable
9 months ago
27 posts

We have a friend who is looking for a small dulcimer. She is currently playing a borrowed small Apple Creek instrument. She has tried "full size" instruments and is uncomfortable with them.

I would describe her desires as follows:

24 inch VSL
Hourglass body
Geared tuners
6 1/2 fret
Holes you can't drop a pick in
Good sound
Not looking for a specific wood
New or used OK
Moderate price

Any suggestions?