|Project by Aaron McCain||posted 07-31-2013 06:55 PM||2256 views||11 times favorited||4 comments|
I have seen this instrument called a Strumstick, a Pickin’ Stick, and a Dulcitar. I think they all work because nobody has heard of any of them in my circle of friends.
One day I was searching the internet to see how big a backpacking guitar would be and if I would be interested in carrying something like that into the woods. (I was also curious about how much they cost and whether or not I wanted to spend that much money.) During my search I ran across Bob McNally’s strumsticks a 6 part video of how to make them. I watched the videos and decided that I had the tools and capability to put one together. A little more searching for plans on the internet led me to Chris Billman’s website a pair of “dulcitars” that he had made with his local woodworking club. I was excited to see a zip file with some hand drawn plans and instructions by William Wells.
So I jumped in and went for it. Matthias Wandel (woodgears.ca) also happened to be building a ukulele the same time, so I was able to watch some of his non-luthier techniques and get some ideas of my own.
I had all the wood in my shop: walnut for the body and cedar for the front and back. I did not have spruce, but learned that cedar is also an acceptable wood for the soundboard. However the cedar was flatsawn, so after a bit of work, I was able to saw and glue the board into quarter-sawn panels. I was excited with how quickly and easily it went together. I spent $40 at stew-mac.com to pick up mandolin strings, tuners, and fretwire for two strumsticks. $20 for a backpacking instrument isn’t a bad deal.
The finish is BLO on every surface and a few layers of polyurethane on every surface except the fret board. It has been a lot of fun to play around with and it sounds a little like a banjo. Here is a little video to show what it sounds like. I made a few mistakes, learned a lot and am planning on making a few more. I am taking it backpacking for the first time tomorrow night.