Koa Wood

Just share stories or offer advice

Re: Koa Wood

Postby Ttaylor » Fri Jan 19, 2018 1:14 pm

Folks thanks for all the responses. I am a closet dulcimer player. I started playing the dulcimer back in 1981. Played them a few years and put them in a closet. Last year I had 2 strokes, heart surgery,etc.I became disabled and pulled my dulcimers out and started taking lessons. I really enjoy playing and the dulcimer is my main hobby now. I have a blue lion and mcspadden but want to find or have built a dulcimer just like I want. There are so many variables.

Sound
I want something loud with a lot of sustain. Not to mellow but not shrill. Finger picking is my favorite style and would like something that complements that.

Wood, I like koa just for the beauty of it but I perfer woods that would be from my native North Carolina. I like wood with a lot of character, unusual, something people would notice. Wormy Chestnut, Curly walnut or Maple. I do not like spruce soft wood sound boards because I feel they are weak. My BL is spruce and has cracked in 2 places. For fret board I think Ebony would be best. The ebony on mr BL feels better than the walnut on my mcspadden.

Build, I would have to talk with my builder as to what he thing would be best. I perfer tuning keys all on one side "fender"
style
Thanks Trent
Ttaylor
Junior Mbr (0-50 posts)
 
Posts: 9
Joined: Tue Nov 21, 2017 12:27 pm

Re: Koa Wood

Postby dholeton » Fri Jan 19, 2018 3:19 pm

Ok, since we're moving toward native woods from North Carolina, I think walnut, black cherry, and poplar are possibilities.

Listed are some thoughts.

Dulcimore Dan makes dulcimers (dulcimores) and he also is a member on this site. His web site is:

http://www.dulcimore.com/

Jack Ferguson makes dulcimers with some parts of the dulcimer made of dogwood, which I believe might be a special wood especially for southeastern states.
His website is:

https://appflutesrebelngrey.patternbyetsy.com/

Ben Seymour makes dulcimers from exotic woods and it seems maybe he is willing to try some customization. His Kudzu patch website is:

http://kudzupatch.net/kpdulcimers.htm

I'm sure there are additional luthiers who will make custom dulcimers and maybe others will provide additional information.

I'm not a luthier who builds lots of instruments, but I have built some instruments and each instrument has some of the same goals you have for your future instrument. I think I know how it feels to have an instrument that is special to my interests. I wish you all the best in searching for your next dulcimer.

Dave
User avatar
dholeton
Super Mbr (501-2000 posts)
 
Posts: 796
Joined: Mon Aug 17, 2009 8:27 pm
Location: Clinton, TN

Re: Koa Wood

Postby KenH » Fri Jan 19, 2018 5:04 pm

An upcoming builder who would work with you is Bob Gerard. His instruments are beautifully constructed with great sound. He love a good challenge, enjoys working with different woods, and is more than willing to work with a customer. He's the author of a post just below this one here in the Making section...
User avatar
KenH
Dulcified! (>2000 posts)
 
Posts: 10148
Joined: Fri Mar 15, 2002 7:16 pm
Location: Afloat in Fort Myers, FL

Re: Koa Wood

Postby Ttaylor » Fri Jan 19, 2018 5:46 pm

Thanks Dave and Ken you have enlighted me to some builders where the pricing is more in my ballpark. I will be giving some of them a call in the near future. Walnut body with a dogwood top sounds nice but will have to think on it.I appreciate everyones help, I learned a lot from you all. Mostly that I dont know what I thought I knew.
Trent
Ttaylor
Junior Mbr (0-50 posts)
 
Posts: 9
Joined: Tue Nov 21, 2017 12:27 pm

Re: Koa Wood

Postby asterhunter » Sat Jan 20, 2018 6:35 am

KenH wrote:
Why Koa? There are LOTS of beautiful woods (Bubinga, Rosewood, Satinwood, Myrtle, to name a few) which are not nearly as costly...

Why MMD, David is one of the most expensive builders 'out there'?


Well, why not? Why spend five grand on a JRS hammered dulcimer when you can spend $2500 on a Master Works? Or $700 on a Songbird? I think many of us would if we could. :D

David Elosser
User avatar
asterhunter
Super Mbr (501-2000 posts)
 
Posts: 589
Joined: Thu Feb 20, 2014 6:22 am
Location: Kernersville NC

Re: Koa Wood

Postby KenH » Sat Jan 20, 2018 10:20 am

"Many" of us mountain dulcimer players wouldn't spend $700 on an instrument. If you've got the money to burn, flaunt it, I guess. Most of us would rather have 3 or 4 or 5 instruments for $1500 than one... LOTS of money spent on an MD does not guarantee it to be 2x, 3x or 5x better than a well-made lower cost instrument. I've seen and played $1500 and more expensive MDs, and frankly was not impressed. An instrument from a "big name" builder is not necessarily any better, worth any more, than a $3-400 instrument from a good but lesser known builder.
User avatar
KenH
Dulcified! (>2000 posts)
 
Posts: 10148
Joined: Fri Mar 15, 2002 7:16 pm
Location: Afloat in Fort Myers, FL

Re: Koa Wood

Postby kwl » Sat Jan 20, 2018 2:16 pm

Trent, you are asking good questions and opening some interesting discussion. I have two dulcimers made of rosewood, one a Blue Lion and the other I built. Rosewood is not a traditional wood for dulcimer building, but makes a pretty instrument. My Folkcraft is all walnut. The C.N. Prichard reproduction I made is all poplar. My "Uncle Ed" Thomas dulcimer is all walnut. This are all different sizes and shapes which also contributes to the sound. I suggest that you listen to as many dulcimers as you can. Also pay attention to the style of playing that you like and listen to that style played on many dulcimers. Once you have figured that out, talk to several builders about what they can do to provide you with an instrument meeting your sound and visual criteria.

As to price, most instruments have more in material costs than in labor costs. The price of wood has increased greatly over the last decade or so. So has the price of tuners and fret material. A dulcimer you could buy for $300 ten years ago is now closer to $500. The price for used instruments tends to be a little crazy with some people paying more for a used instrument than a new one costs and that does not just apply to "historic" instruments.

Best wishes as you move forward with your project.

Ken
"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."
User avatar
kwl
Dulcified! (>2000 posts)
 
Posts: 17407
Joined: Mon Mar 18, 2002 5:25 pm
Location: Reedsville, PA

Re: Koa Wood

Postby asterhunter » Sat Jan 20, 2018 9:53 pm

kwl wrote:
As to price, most instruments have more in material costs than in labor costs. The price of wood has increased greatly over the last decade or so. So has the price of tuners and fret material. A dulcimer you could buy for $300 ten years ago is now closer to $500. The price for used instruments tends to be a little crazy with some people paying more for a used instrument than a new one costs and that does not just apply to "historic" instruments.

Ken
"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."


That is due in large part to the recent boom in housing construction. You may ask, what has that to do with the price of eggs in China? Well, some hardwoods go into the construction of houses (flooring, cabinets, mouldings etc.), pushing the price upward. But more importantly, is what goes into every new house- furniture. Furniture made from hard woods. And the furniture industry uses a lot more hard woods than the luthier business. A heluva lot more. So the price and availability to the dulcimer builder of many hardwoods can be determined by furniture manufacturers who have huge demands and big pockets. Some years ago, American cherry wood became the hard wood du jour in furniture putting upward pressure on the price. At one point last year, cherry became the most expensive native North American hard wood species and may still be today. But the characteristics of cherry wood are highly desirable by luthiers so it remains a popular wood in MD's.

And then there's the current issue with rail road ties...

David Elosser
User avatar
asterhunter
Super Mbr (501-2000 posts)
 
Posts: 589
Joined: Thu Feb 20, 2014 6:22 am
Location: Kernersville NC

Re: Koa Wood

Postby Ttaylor » Sun Jan 21, 2018 9:07 am

After getting your guys help. I called Jack Fergerson at Appalachian Flutes and Dulcimers. Very nice man and we discussed every part of the dulcimer and he is building me one at a reasonable price. Heres what we decided on.
Figured Cherry over Walnut Hourglass
5 String
Black Ebony fingerboard over walnut fret board
28 vsl
2 1/4 inch sound chamber depth not counting the double back
On board Electrics with under bridge pickup
Walnut double back
Sta - tite blck closed face tuning machines all black hardware
Thank you guys for leading me in the right direction.
Trent
Ttaylor
Junior Mbr (0-50 posts)
 
Posts: 9
Joined: Tue Nov 21, 2017 12:27 pm

Re: Koa Wood

Postby KenH » Sun Jan 21, 2018 10:15 am

Sound like a plan! Jack makes some darn nice looking dulcimers. I haven't had a chance to play one yet, but I've heard clips. Congratulations!
User avatar
KenH
Dulcified! (>2000 posts)
 
Posts: 10148
Joined: Fri Mar 15, 2002 7:16 pm
Location: Afloat in Fort Myers, FL

Previous

Return to Making Dulcimers

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 5 guests