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Dulcitar/Strumstick

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Project by RussJohnson posted 05-26-2015 12:52 AM 1222 views 3 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch

My brother used to play guitar, but now no longer has the time to maintain his skills. I found these “Strumstick” guitars online that are designed in a way so that no matter what fret your finger is on, you are always in the same scale so all the notes work together.

I gathered as much info as I could on how to put these things together and started on building 2 of them, one for me and one for my brother. I used paduck for the neck (because people say that it has a good natural tone/resonance, but I cannot hear the difference), purple heart for the top of the body and maple for the back. I found a website that calculates the proper position of all the frets based on the size of the instrument. The frets were pretty easy, make a shallow cut with a narrow kerf handsaw, dab some CA glue, hammer in some fret wire and them trim/sand the excess with a dremil tool.

For a finish I thinned out some clear shellac and wiped on about 8 coats. It’s not the most durable finish, but it feels wonderful in the hands and really makes the paduck and purpleheart look good.

The only critical thing I learned from this is that you need to build a bending form for the stick before you glue the face on or it will come out lopsided. I built a prototype out of construction lumber and I had this problem, but after i built the form (seen in the second picture above) I was able to clamp the face on, let it dry, then the face holds everything in the proper shape.

Once it was all put together and strung it’s amazing how easy it is to just pick it up and start improvising a jam. I play a little guitar and none of the tabs I know translate over to this, but if you can look at sheet music for a song it’s not hard to figure out because the frets just go A,B,C,...G.





6 comments so far

View Ted's profile

Ted

2785 posts in 1674 days


#1 posted 05-26-2015 04:21 AM

This looks like a really fun project, and nice end results as well. I’ve been itching to build a simple guitar of some sort, cigar box maybe? Or I might try something like this some day. I also play a little guitar…in fact, I can play all three cords! :p

-- The first cordless tool was a stick. The first power tool was a rock.

View Bill Akins's profile

Bill Akins

425 posts in 3161 days


#2 posted 05-26-2015 11:55 AM

Outstanding job. These are fun to make and play.

-- Bill from Lithia Springs, GA I love the smell of sawdust in the morning.

View PaulDoug's profile

PaulDoug

1092 posts in 1166 days


#3 posted 05-26-2015 02:29 PM

Well done. I made on several years ago. It was a lot of fun to make and sounded real nice. My son took it home to play and it got stolen! They think is was the cleaning lady…. HA.

-- “We all die. The goal isn't to live forever; the goal is to create something that will.” - Chuck Palahniuk

View mcoyfrog's profile

mcoyfrog

3800 posts in 3057 days


#4 posted 05-26-2015 06:40 PM

Awesome mann, great job

-- Wood and Glass they kick (well you know) Have a great day - Dug

View NotaJock's profile

NotaJock

37 posts in 562 days


#5 posted 07-17-2015 03:02 PM

Your strumstick is modal rather than chromatic like a guitar. You’ll find dulcimer tab fits your instrument. Look at EverythingDulcimer.com. They’ve got lots.
Enjoy.

-- Mike in SoCal

View RussJohnson's profile

RussJohnson

53 posts in 1285 days


#6 posted 07-18-2015 02:53 AM

NotaJock, you’re absolutely correct. One of the things that attracted me to this project was how simple it would be to play (all the notes in the same key).

Thanks for the website suggestion, I’m scoping it out right now.

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