I have arranged my most recent videos near the top. They give you the most information in a shorter time. Some of my older ones are still shown near the bottom.
Box Shaped Dulcimer
This shows the various body styles I use to build dulcimers. Style details are shown below this section.
I try to keep a few available for sale and listed in my Web Store.
I build many of them as custom orders:
My newest style is the simple box. I first built a 3 string box guitar. I liked the sound, do I adapted it to a lap dulcimer. It sits on my legs just fine to play it. I like the sound and volume. It will be pretty different from other dulcimers on the market, including mine. The most expensive wood on a dulcimer is the back and soundboard, and this needs less of it. The simple shape is easier to build, so this will be my lowest priced dulcimer. My base price is $180. More expensive wood will add a little. I am using an adjustable bridge. If you want the fretboard solid to the end I can make it that way, but the bridge height can not be adjustable.
My base price for a pineapple shaped dulcimer is $210. This would include a few wood choices, but they will vary depending on stock. It is best to email me to see what is available. Nickel frets are a little less than gold, so they are in this price. There will be a few choices for sides and trim parts. Most other wood options will add from $10 to $40.
My base price for an hourglass dulcimer is $230, with options shown above.
If you order one that I would build for stock, there is no deposit. If you order something different, there is a non refundable 15% deposit. Please contact me to get the cost of your choice. Think about all of the following options.
Acoustic Dulcimer Shapes
Hourglass: The dulcimers I build have a large body design. Total length is 36". The body is 31" long. The lower chamber is 8" wide, and the upper is 7". The fretboard is 1.5" wide and 3/4" to 1" high. Choose a vibrating string length of 27.5" or 25.5".
Pineapple Shape: Both are 8" wide. The long size is 36". Fretboard scale options are 27.5" or 25.5". The short one is 33", with a vibrating string length of 25.5". I also have a 23" scale. This would be good for key of G, which gives you a higher sound, a bit like a mandolin.
Box Shape: 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".
Solid Body Electric
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 - .042, .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, .009
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