Building the dulcimer/mandolin based on Musicmaker's plans

12/23/18 04:44:57PM


I recently case across a set of free mandolin plans from Musicmakers. I was attracted to the elongated teardrop shape and the simplicity of the design. I had been toying with the idea of a dulcimer/mandolin for some time, and this design looked like a perfect fit.


A mandolin is tuned GDAE. By eliminating the high E string, and tuning the A string down a step, you have a GDG. If you already know how to play a dulcimer, you could easily add the mandolin to your repertoire . Also, by keeping the high G in the same position (nearest you) as a dulcimer, you don’t have to relearn all your songs with the strings in reverse order. All three strings are doubled for that “mandolin” sound and use a standard set of light mandolin strings.


The pictures show the front and back as well as the fretboard with the standard dulcimer spacing.   A change from the plans is for a 1” neck to accommodate the three evenly space double strings. The spacing in mm’s is: 3   /2.0/   6   /2.5/   6   /2.5/   3    for a total of 25mm which is 1”. Also, the back is braced with an X brace to a 96” radius to add some interior volume to the instrument. Other changes include joining the sides at the 7th fret rather than the 6th , and adding glue linings for more strength.


The neck and body are mahogany, and the soundboard is cedar. The scale is 14” standard mandolin.


It takes a little getting used to because you play the notes with your fingers rather than your thumb. Once you get the hang of it, the songs come naturally.