Box Acoustic Dulcimer
This compares a single coil and humbucker pickup. I can still get this longer single coil if you want. I can get the humbucker in black or gold.
This was a special order.
This shows the various body styles I use to build dulcimers.
The hourglass is common. 36" long, 8" wide. Scale length 27.5" or 25.5"
The pineapple shape is a modification of a teardrop shape. It has a larger volume with more soundboard surface. It takes a little less time to build than the hourglass. The length can vary, with scale length of 27.5" or 25.5".
The box acoustic is a simple design to build and uses less wood, with no waste. It still has good volume. Total length is 34". Scale length is 25.5". The box size is 17.5" long and 8" wide. I can also make one with a 23" VSL, for a total length of 31".
The solid body electric is simple and functional. It makes almost no noise without an amp.
The most common length is 32" with a 5.5" width and 25.5" scale. You can go longer or shorter with 27.5" or 23" scale. The base price is for red cedar or poplar. Other wood will cost a little more.
The box electric adds volume and tone controls. Because of the box it can be played without plugging in. It is loud enough for practice. It can be played like a guitar or as a lap dulcimer. The length is 33.5", width 6", with a 25.5" scale.
Hourglass Pineapple Box Acoustic Solid Body Electric Box Electric
$ 280 $ 240 $210 $ 210 $ 230
For More Information
I make a lot of videos. browse some on the left for instruments of interest. The pictures section includes many instruments I have made. If instruments are ready to sell they are in the "Web Store" section. When they are sold I leave some there to show detailed information about them. Some have videos that are not shown on the left.
Things to think about:
Wood options for the Sound Board and Back: I purchase most of these pieces as 1/8" thick pieces, ready to use. I keep some things in stock, but if I have to order what you want, that will add to the order time and sometimes the price. For ideas about the wood you like, look in the Photo Gallery of dulcimers I have made. Some of the wood I have used is no longer available. New ideas will be considered if I can get the wood.
Wood Finish and Instrument Care
For the final sanding I use a 600 grit sandpaper. Thin wood used for acoustic instruments are normally free of imperfections. Solid body electric instruments are finished with a planer, and then less sanding. The planer sometimes leaves gouges in the wood, especially around knots. Sometimes these are too deep to be totally gone after sanding. Red cedar has been very popular, but because of knots, you will usually find some of these pits. After sanding I use Danish Oil for a finish. The oil soaks into the wood, and cures within the wood. It does not make a built up finish. If you ever scuff the wood, or just want to brighten the finish after a few years, you can do as much sanding as needed. If there are no problems, but you want to brighten the finish, just use the 600. With a paper towel or soft cloth wipe the oil on the surface. After a minute or less wipe it off with a clean paper towel or rag. Let it dry overnight. This will leave I tiny amount on the surface that should make it look as good as new.
I do not sell enough instruments to have my own line of cases, and I have too many sizes and shapes, so I like soft cases. If you search the web for dulcimer cases, you will find several options. I have found that gun cases are less expensive and work very well. I try to keep a few in stock. I add a little bit to what I pay for them, and ship them free along with an instrument. This will add $20 to $30, depending on the instrument. If you want to get one yourself, but are not sure about sizes, please ask, and I will send information.
Fretboard Length, Tuning, and Strings
The most common key for dulcimers is D, but they can be tuned to any key you like. If your strings are meant for key of D, you can probably go up to E, or down to C, but if you change more than that, you should change your strings. If a string is too loose, it will not sound good, and intonation will be wrong for all of the notes except the open string. If you have to get a string too tight, it may break, and strings that are too tight are harder on fingers, and harder to play.
If you are experienced, and play every day, you may want your strings tighter than a beginner with soft fingertips. I have made up this guide for strings that should work for various string lengths and tunings in key of D or G. If you want to learn more about string sizes or try a special combination. take a look at this website: http://wahiduddin.net/calc/calc_guitar_string.htm
27.5" VSL: Base string is D below middle C: DAa - .024, .014, .013 DAd - .024, .014, .011
Baritone, base string is G below D: GDd - .036, .022, .022 GDg - .036, .022, .016
25.5" VSL: Base string is D below middle C: DAa - .024, .014, .014 DAd - .024, .014, .011
Base string is G below middle C: GDd - .018, .012, .012 GDg - .018, .012, .010
23" VSL: Base string is D below middle C: DAa - .028, .016, .016 DAd - .028, .016, .012
Base string is G below middle C: GDd - .020, .013, .013 GDg - .020, .013, .010
19.5" VSL: Base string is D above middle C: DAa - .016, .010, .010 DAd - does not work