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Anyone know the maker of this dulcimer?

PostPosted: Fri Apr 10, 2009 1:02 pm
by ellemmbee
I hope I'm posting this in the correct forum...

I had Quintin Stephens do some work on this dulcimer and he encouraged me to post some pics here and see if anyone knew the maker. He looked it over inside and out and couldn't find any kind of makers mark. Here's the link to my photobucket album: ... 0Dulcimer/

Quintin said it reminded him of a Capritarus but couldn't say for sure one way or the other.

I bought it on EBay and here's what the seller wrote:

My father purchased this Dulcimer in Los Angeles back in the 60's. He bought it from a shop that handmade there own dulcimers. Made out of Walnut and Rosewood,Ivory tuners. Frets in great condition no dead spots, stays in tune perfect. This dulcimer sounds amazing. This is the same type of instrument used on the Rolling Stones song "Lady Jane" I will accept any reasonable offers. Thanks

Sure would appreciate any input! Thanks :D

PostPosted: Fri Apr 10, 2009 2:09 pm
by folkfan
No idea, but an interesting scroll shape for the head.

PostPosted: Fri Apr 10, 2009 3:39 pm
by kwl
I can't say for sure either, but I agree with Quintin.

PostPosted: Fri Apr 10, 2009 6:01 pm
by Dulcimerbuilder
That looks to me like one of the old Sears or Hondo dulcimers sold 30 or more years ago. The cutout in the headstock and the area of the fretboard behind the bridge is almost identical to those. They barely left enough distance from the pins to the bridge to get a looped end string on there without the winding of the loop going over the bridge. That was common for those dulcimers. The heal of the headstock is exactly the same, not being covered by the back and and the inlay down the back is also like those. The rounded off nut and bridge were also common on those. I had only seen one other with binding however. That may have been added by someone later and refinished as there generally was a serial or model number on the heal of the headstock. I have an old one in my workshop that I am refurbishing and putting guitar pegs on. Friends,

PostPosted: Fri Apr 10, 2009 6:44 pm
by pristine2

The dulcimer Brian Jones used on the Stones album was a custom made Vox Bijou, made by the guitar maker in the UK. Vox guitars were sold in the US, so I suppose there could be a connection. Perhaps the company produced a few dulcimers and moved them through their distribution network. If so, this instrument would be worth quite a bit.

A couple of factors argue against it being a Vox Bijou, however. For one thing, there is no label. Secondly, the joints just don't look smooth enough. Vox primarily made electric guitars and amplifiers, but there are three acoustic instruments on this list: ... %20guitars

I usually dislike oversized soundholes, but those on your dulcimer work very nicely:


The spade is a really loaded symbol. It can alternatively reflect good-natured play, the luck of the draw, the creative well of the mind, or darker notions of the occult.

In the late 1960s, the 6 1/2 fret was just coming into more common use. When you see a 6 1/2 on a dulcimer more than 40 years old, it's worth asking some questions about provenance. (Then again, you can hardly find a more credible source than one's own own Dad!) People often added the 6+ later, but one can normally tell pretty easily upon inspection whether or not it is original.

If the maker was working in LA in the 1960s, there's a good chance Howard Rugg will recognize who it is. Howard's on ED, so you can PM him. He has an AIM address listed too.

The comparison with Hondo is interesting. The Hondo itself is a copy of a California design --- can't remember at the moment the name of that maker.

But I would not guess that this is a Hondo or any other Asian import. It's a decade too old, if it is dated right. The craftsmanship is too ornate and the woods look far too good to be a factory piece from that period. And the first Asian imports never had a 6+ fret.

As I recall, in the Hondo headstock, the strings ran under a metal tension bar positioned between the nut and the tuners. You can just barely make it out in this Google-source Hondo photo:


Gary: Did Sears sell other dulcimers before it started carrying Hondos?

"Edith" writes: I found a better picture of the metal tension bar from a current eBay listing. I think this is a Hondo, and the picture above is a Hondo II. The braces on the outside of the headstock are someone's makeshift repair:



PostPosted: Fri Apr 10, 2009 7:43 pm
by Dulcimerbuilder
pristine2 wrote:
Gary: Did Sears sell other dulcimers before it started carrying Hondos?


I didn't make myself very clear. I didn't mean to imply that Sears carried Hondo dulcimers. It just that I have seen some Hondos that were similar to the Sears. Sorry,

BTW. The one in my workshop that I am installing guitar pegs on, I had to reshape the scroll, reducing it in size to accomodate the pegs. The shape very similar the Lisa's. I am about 90% sure that this is an imported dulicmer, as the both Sears and Hondos were imported.

PostPosted: Fri Apr 10, 2009 7:50 pm
by pristine2
I didn't make myself very clear. I didn't mean to imply that Sears carried Hondo dulcimers.

Actually it must be my error, because I'd always thought that the Sears dulcimers were, in fact, Hondos.

This impression came from a 1980 Sears catalogue clipping I had with an entry for a dulcimer, with a poor photo,. I think it even said the instrument was Korean. I was pretty sure it was a Hondo ...


PostPosted: Mon Apr 13, 2009 10:51 am
by ellemmbee
Thanks for all the responses!

Does anyone know Mr. Rugg's ID on ED so I can PM him? I did not type this with a straight face :)

PostPosted: Mon Apr 13, 2009 11:45 am
by kwl
I think it is Howard Rugg.

PostPosted: Tue Apr 14, 2009 5:52 pm
by ellemmbee
Thanks, Ken :)

PostPosted: Sat Apr 18, 2009 2:13 pm
by Howard Rugg
I do not know who made this dulcimer, but it reminds me of "Magic Mountain". Also the headstock I have seen made by either Michael Hubbard or Bob Koutnic who worked for my brother Mike " Capritaurus" after we seperated as partners. What does not fit, is it was made in a southern California shop.
Both Magic Mountain and Capritaurus were in northern California.

Beautyful craftsmanship


PostPosted: Mon Apr 20, 2009 10:17 am
by ellemmbee
Thanks Howard :) :) :) :)