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Fretboard construction


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I'm making a dulcimer from a 1980s plan that shows the fretboard hollowed out and sitting on top of a slot in the soundboard. The fretboard is glued to the soundboard along the whole of the long edges of the fretboard.

I've also seen an design used by Bear Meadow shown below. Here the fretboard is cut away on the sides and glued periodically as though it rests on feet.

Does anyone know whether the Bear Meadow  design also has a slot in the soundboard below the fretboardspacer.png

And just as important, are there any views on which is the better way in terms of acoustics to fix the fretboard to the soundboard?


Thank you!

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I can't answer your question on the Bear Meadow. I have never looked that closely. As tow which way is better, I see little difference between them. The dulcimer I play most often is a Folkcraft that has a scalloped fret board like the Bear Meadows. It is the only dulcimer I have like that. All my other dulcimers and the ones I build have non-scalloped fret boards.


"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."

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Not sure what Dwayne at Bear Meadows does with openings in the top; like KWL I've never looked that close.  I can't think of anyone who builds arched or scalloped fretboards who also opens the top under the arches.  I've built both, and as far as I can tell the acoustic effect of one technique over the other is negligible.  IMHO the primary reason to hollow or scallop a fretboard is to reduce the mass of that huge block of wood, so that it can physically vibrate better and send those vibrations into the body where they become sound. 

For simplicity of construction I prefer the hollowed fretboard, whether over a slotted top or not; for aesthetics I prefer the arched fretboard.  One of my favorite dulcimers has the arches matching the widths of the spaces between the frets -- wide and narrow -- which I find particularly pleasing to the eye.

FWIW, an easy way to cut that "slot" under the fretboard is to first glue the two top pieces together.  Then use a Forstner bit (not a twist drill or spade bit) to drill a series of nearly connected holes 1/2" or 5/8" in diameter down the centerline where the fretboard will sit.  Forstner bits cut nice clean edged holes in thin material...

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