|Project by GnarlyErik||posted 02-16-2017 11:15 PM||593 views||1 time favorited||15 comments|
After research and some fussiness I’ve just completed an Appalachian Dulcimer for my wife’s birthday, which is tomorrow. She got her dulcimer today though, and loves it already, so I am very happy about that. It sounds good to my ear, with a very nice ringing and resonating tone quality. However, since I do not play myself, what do I know?
This is very traditionally made, with ebony tuning pegs in lieu of mechanical tuners, and with brass string pins, etc. The top is New Zealand pine (Pinus radiata), the bottom is an intarsia amalgamation of white ash (Fraxinus americana), and black walnut (Juglans nigra). The sides and fret board are red cherry (Prunus serotina) and the peg box is Honduras mahogany (Swietenia macrophylla). Top, bottom and sides are all 1/8” or less in thickness and the dulcimer is light as a feather. Everything is glued, there being only one actual screw in the entire structure, holding the tailpiece in place. There’s a piezo pick up installed inside for an amplifier.
The finish is four coats of a high quality marine varnish. I guess I’m stuck in a rut with my finishes, since I very much prefer to use marine grade, oil-based paints and varnishes. You can always get a superb, high gloss ‘wet look’ which outshines everything else if you know what you’re about with those. It’s fussy and you must use patience – and lots of elbow grease with fine hand sanding between coats, but the results are unsurpassed. The final three coats are sprayed on with a small touch-up air gun. Honestly, that finish just blows away the finishes on all those fancy factory made instruments.
Onward! Next project is a small ‘Cigar Box Guitar’ with a 24” string length, with 3 strings for a small child less than two years old. The reason this is added to my line up is because she was so interested in the ones I made for her older siblings. She was so fascinated by those I just have to go ahead and build a smaller version for her, earlier than I planned to. Serendipitously, I made a find recently at an auto swap meet of over a dozen wooden cigar boxes. These had never held cigars and I grabbed the lot for a song. Now, I have the starting material for lots of small guitars!
I’m learning a lot and having so much fun with these things!
- EDIT – 2/18/17: Though it is not very obvious in these pictures, I tried a ‘shadow effect’ at the leaf sound holes. I inserted a darker, contrasting wood (walnut) to try to outline and emphasize the leaf design. I have now posted a closeup picture to show this. At the moment I’m busy finishing up two more two 3-string guitars I had almost finished them when I put them aside to finish the dulcimer. Now I am on the last hour or so to complete those. I have a tendency to add little ‘improvement’ touches as I build things. These last two will have mechanical geared tuners instead of the traditional wooden tuning pegs.
-- "Never let your dogma get run over by your karma!"