The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #60344   Message #965853
Posted By: GUEST,Russ
11-Jun-03 - 11:36 AM
Thread Name: Building a mountain dulcimer
Subject: RE: Building a mountain dulcimer
For me, the most significant problem with building one's own dulcimer is the absolute unpredictability of the finished product with regards to sound.

I have a couple of friends who are professional dulcimer makers who freely admit this. A dulcimer playing friend and I last visted one of them in May. We played every new instrument he had. As usual for this maker, every instrument was beautifully made and had a sound which we deemed "accceptable." But also, as usual, even if two dulcimers were identical in all respects, we could hear a significant difference in sound. We both agreed that out of about a dozen instruments only one of them "nailed it" for sound. My friend bought it even though he had assured his wife that he wouldn't be bringing any new instruments home.

So if, for you, tone, sustain, and volume are NOT an issue, go for it.

Years ago I made a hammered dulcimer from a kit. I put it away after the "new instrument honeymoon" when I finally admitted to myself that I just didn't care for the tone.

With all due respect to JohnInKansas, it was just as traditional to buy a dulcimer as it was to make one. If I remember correctly Jean Ritchie's family bought theirs from "Uncle Ed" Thomas.

With all due respect to dick greenhaus, dulcimers are being made with significant volume and resonance. However they seem to be the exception rather than the rule. Appparently many dulcimer players are happy with beautiful dulcimers that have the tonal qualities of a 2x4 with strings.