Page 1 of 1

Building a Nylon string dulcimer

PostPosted: Tue Nov 28, 2017 5:22 pm
by tukanu
Over the past decade I have experimented with all sizes, shapes and woods for the mountain dulcimer. I have often thought of building a nylon stringed dulcimer, and recently I got around to building one. Classical guitars are built and braced lighter than steel string guitars, but offer as much volume and tone. The only real difference is the shape of the sound they produce. So, there is no reason why a nylon string dulcimer wouldn’t work as well as a steel string dulcimer.
I recently relocated to Colorado and wanted my first “Colorado” dulcimer to be made of native woods. Dulcimers are traditionally built with local woods, so it seemed fitting to consider trees that are native to the area. I located some clear 8/4 Aspen for the body and Englemann spruce for the top. Both of these woods were harvested here in Colorado.
I have to admit I didn’t start this dulcimer as a nylon stringed instrument. But as soon as the sides were bent and blocked, I knew this would be a good candidate for a nylon dulcimer. Aspen is a very soft and lightweight wood. It has a tap-tone similar to cedar or redwood, both suitable for stringed instruments.
Englemann spruce is a traditional wood for instrument tops, so I knew it would work well on this dulcimer.
I selected walnut for the fretboard and edge-binding to give some contrast to the creamy white Aspen and Englemann. The edges of the Aspen are much too soft to be left unprotected, so the walnut is a good choice for edge binding.
I have included some photos and comments on the steps in building this dulcimer.