Friday, 15 March 2019
#36 Appalachian Dulcimer
I don't intend to make a habit of building Appalachian Dulcimers, however the first musical instrument I made was an Appalachian Dulcimer (aka Mountain Dulcimer). The body was made from cheap 3mm plywood and the fingerboard and pegbox were made out of a piece of Meranti I had on hand. This was in about 1995.
Back then the internet had not yet caught on and there were only a few how-to books on lutherie available. If something went wrong you were on your own! I had very little woodworking experience so I had teach myself how to sharpen a chisel, how to plane wood etc. When I think back now I wonder why I persisted with it given all the hurdles I faced, but when I finished that Dulcimer I felt an enormous sense of satisfaction and achievement. It was pretty rough to look at but it stayed together, sounded good (to my ears anyway) and played in tune. I immediately wanted to build another, then another and so on.
So this is a long way of coming around to #36 which I built 2009/10. This is an Appalachian Dulcimer but of much better design and execution than my first Dulcimer. I had almost finished it when in 2011 I was forced into a hiatus in building. Fast forward to 2019 and I am back building and when I unpacked all my stuff I found this almost-completed Dulcimer that I had pretty much forgotten about. So I decided to finish it. It has a Western Red Cedar soundboard and the rest is Jarrah, except the tuning pegs which are Rosewood. It has a shorter scale length than most Dulcimers, 600mm to be exact.
The following pics I took tonight to show where it's currently at. The first pic shows the Jarrah pegbox and the Rosewood tuning pegs I bought to suit. The device in the middle is a pegshaver and to the right is a tapered reamer (both violin-makers tools) both for fitting the pegs in the pegbox. Each peg has to be individually fitted to each hole. This Dulcimer will have four strings so four pegs. The next two pics are of the Dulcimer body with clamps applied to repair slight damage that occurred in storage.