Jump to content

1st post & 1st build in progress


Recommended Posts

Hi there, this is my first post here, saying hello! 

I build classical guitars as a hobby, and is intrigued when I discovered the dulcimer on the web. It's a unique instrument, certainty not seen in my part of the world. I told myself to build one, and so am joining this community to learn as I build. The construction is my interpretation of material I got from the web. Hope to get pointers here.

It's 520mm scale length (20.5 in), which is shorter than the norm, so I may encounter some unique challenges. Woods are Sapele top and sides, padauk/Khaya back and beech fingerboard and headstock.

Here are some pictures of the ongoing build.




Will update as the build progresses.



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Where are you from? Nice choice of woods.

Build looks very nice.  Good job for working from on-line stuff without asking questions first.  The build seems over-built by modern techniques -- stub ends of the tuning head inside the box, all those kerf strips, very thick scroll head bits, heavy braces.    These days almost no one uses kerf strips unless they are going to install bindings at the side/top and side/back junctions -- the kerf gives you somethings to glue the binding to.  Modern glues such as TiteBond are so much stronger than hide glues and earlier glues that there is no need today for the extra glue surfaces of kerf strips.  Cross braces only need to be 1/4" x 3.8" maximum.  

How thick are the bottom/top/sides?  Is the fretboard hollowed underneath?

Link to comment
Share on other sites


I am from Singapore. 

As I'm learning as I build, plus this is my first steel string instrument, so I'm being conservative. Top & sides are 2.5mm & bottom's 3mm. Fretboard is not hollowed (you mean across, right?) as I've made it quite thin at 10mm. I'll try that in a bigger dulcimer together with a stand alone bridge. I've positioned the integrated bridge higher and closer to the center of the lower bout for this build for increased volume, and placed a couple of top braces from the bridge to the f-holes.


Thanks. I have just boxed it up, and next will be installing the frets, linings and polishing.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

When we refer to a hollowed fretboard we mean down the length (except under a strum hollow) turning the fretboard into an inverted U shape.  This reduces the mass of the fretboard and gives a tiny bit more soundboard to vibrate.  The other hollowing -- crosswise -- is called an arched fretboard.  There is no real need for top braces -- the top already has that massive brace (called the fretboard) running down it's length.  Some of us re-inforce the area around delicate sound holes with thin pasteboard or veneer on the underside, but true top braces are not necessary.  

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Wow!   For a 20" VSL that sure has a lot of sound -- both volume and quality; I love the deep bass you've got going there.  The sound is probably due to the thin planks all around.  Very nice!  Dulcimer builders really don't much target tap tone frequency.  Only  a few builders seriously consider the concept.  The dulcimer is more or less the last of the Western "folk instruments" and there has been very little scientific (quantitative rather than qualitative) research into the factors which make the sound of either the "modern dulcimers" like yours or the "traditional dulcemores" like I build these days.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...

I've been away without the internet for three weeks. What a pleasant surprise to return to your completed dulcimer and the sound files. Very nice. You did well. Thanks for sharing your work and music.


"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Create New...