Help me name this instrument!

Ken Longfield
Ken Longfield
@ken-longfield
3 weeks ago
920 posts

Ryan, I like the concept of model designations that give you information about the instrument. When someone says they have a C.F. Martin D28 you know exactly what this is; a rosewood dreadnaught with white binding, etc.  If some tells you they have a Taylor 314ce, you know that is has sapele back and sides, sitka spruce top, Venetian cutaway, electronic pickup built in, and is a grand auditorium model. Both Folkcraft and McSpadden used various abbreviations in their model designations to let you know what you features you had.

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."

ryanpryor
@ryanpryor
3 weeks ago
5 posts

BUT....

I completely confused the point of my naming question.

I'm not as concerned with the family name as the model name.  Like Fender has Stratocaster, Telecaster, Jaguar, etc.  What would be an interesting thread of naming for these?  I'd go with wood names but that would be pure confusion.  Or maybe it could be wood abbreviations on a simple name that actually is like "Model 1" with, for example, a Maple-Cherry combination making it "Model 1-MC'31" where the '31 is the length in the event that I make different sizes (which I intend), or "e" if I get to electric models.

Does that make more sense?  I mean, what does that spark for folks here?  I've been noodling on this matter for over a year!

ryanpryor
@ryanpryor
3 weeks ago
5 posts

Butch Ross:

I agree that "technically" it's not a zither, but the double melody course belies the dulcimer intent. That deserves a mention.

The design reminds me of a Merlin (by Seagull guitars) but with enough frets to be useful. And the design reminds me of a '57 Danelectro. So maybe something that plays off of both of those ideas? "The '57 Merlin".... or maybe just "The Lancelot."

Just my 2p 

Lol, "Lancelot"... I think it'll be of such a higher quality that I will probably avoid too much association with the Merlin, tho it does have some inspiration in the Merlin's predecessor, the Woodrow Instrument Co of Asheville.

Dusty Turtle
Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
4 weeks ago
1,616 posts

I think we can all agree that how to name an instrument is not the same as how to classify an instrument in terms of its organology.  An autoharp, a hammered dulcimer, and a mountain dulcimer are all zithers, yet they are played in completely different ways. So that classification is useful for museum curators but not very practical for musicians.

Although what is commonly called a "stick dulcimer" is not technically a zither and therefore not properly a dulcimer, that term tells us exactly what the instrument is: a diatonic instrument with three courses of strings that stretch over not only the box, but also a neck.  The term is therefore simultaneously technically wrong but also extremely accurate.

In terms of how one would play this instrument, the fact that it has a diatonic fretboard and three courses of strings, the highest of which is doubled, means that the instrument resembles a dulcimer far more than a guitar or lute.  I would avoid guitar or lute in the naming for that reason.

I like the idea of giving it a name reminiscent of geographical features of the Nashville area and then describing it as a "dulcimer-like instrument" shaped like a guitar with a diatonic fretboard and three courses of strings.  If you have different models, perhaps they can be named for different bodies of water, or different neighborhoods, or different railroad lines, or whatever.




--
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

updated by @dusty-turtle: 11/01/22 03:05:15AM
Butch Ross
Butch Ross
@butch-ross
4 weeks ago
21 posts

I agree that "technically" it's not a zither, but the double melody course belies the dulcimer intent. That deserves a mention.

The design reminds me of a Merlin (by Seagull guitars) but with enough frets to be useful. And the design reminds me of a '57 Danelectro. So maybe something that plays off of both of those ideas? "The '57 Merlin".... or maybe just "The Lancelot."

Just my 2p 

Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
4 weeks ago
2,103 posts

Yes I like "River lute" as well. This is part of a topic that usually inspires some debate. But yes technically a mountain dulcimer is defined as type of zither (box with strings going over the top, and no real neck). Lute family is broad and includes guitars, and lutes all have necks. Yours can be most accurately described as a (mostly) diatonically fretted guitar.




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Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
Ken Hulme
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
4 weeks ago
2,006 posts

The fret spacing does not define it as a "dulcimer" anything -- the instrument has a neck.  Lots of instruments in the past 1000 years have had diatonic fret spacings.  Dulcimers, by international definition, do not have necks.  It is a small bodied diatonic guitar, a member of the Lute family of instruments.    River Lute isn't a bad name...

ryanpryor
@ryanpryor
4 weeks ago
5 posts

Hey all, I've been working on this instrument design for a while now, and it's ready to start into production.

I've been toying with calling these river dulcimers, just to differentiate it from the term "stick" or "strumstick" or something like that. It would also open the door to river names. Dulcimer guitar is what it is, so in the end I'll probably stick with that... BUT... what should the model name be?

I've just referred to it as the Model 1, and the longer I go the more that seems to be what it'll be called, but I think it merits something sexier or something. 

Being in Nashville I've been contemplating finding a naming convention that would lean on something outside of dulcimers, like geographies of the town (the "Music Row") or state, bodies of water (the "Cumberland"), artists or styles, woods (the "Old Hickory"), etc.

Anything come to mind for this crew?  Open to suggestions!

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