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EverythingDulcimer

1974 hourglass dulcimer by; Bryan Mumford


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...backstory; my dad's instrument found in closet after his passing. Not entirely desperate to sell and will try to keep in family and perhaps try to learn the instrument (non-musician here).....However, curiousity and present economical situation cannot ignore the possibilities of letting it go. Thank you in advanced. -chris q

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Chris -- We can't even begin to give you a ball-park estimate on that dulcimer's value -- based on your description except to say somewhere between $5 and $1000.     Pictures (close ups and wider shots) would be a good start.  The text of any builder's label inside the bottom.   Who is Bryan M and what do you mean by the instrument being a confirmed survivor (of what???).   Condition -- dings, dents, cracks, loose glue joints??   What kind of tuning machines does it have....

4 strings doesn't tell us much.  Neither does overall length and width or wood types.  What is the distance between the Nut and Bridge?  How many frets does it have?  Length and width without the depth mean nothing.  

Tell us more -- then we can help.

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  • 10 months later...

Now that we can actually SEE this dulcimer, I would say that it is a common instrument of the early 70s;  nothing special.  It has no 6+ or 13" fret, and most people today want those frets so they can play in what is known as Chord Melody style.  This dulcimer is not particularly suited for that style of playing, making it less desirable.   

It appears to be a "semi-commercial" build --ie someone, or some company making a number of dulcimers in a sort of production line setup.  It could even be a Japanese or Korean import, especially if there is no maker's label inside.  The top at least appears to be plywood, and perhaps the bottom as well.  The  tuning head is a straight, simplistic,  nothing special design, easily mass produced with a few saw cuts.  The tuners common enclosed tuners of the period.  

I would estimate it's market value at somewhere between $25 and $100.  

Edited by NoterMan
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I concur with Noterman. There is nothing special about this dulcimer. It appears to be made of inexpensive luan plywood, although I can't be certain from the photos.

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."

Edited by KWL
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I have to take exception with some of the comments. I recently bought an April 1978 Mixolydian Musical Wood Works hourglass very similar to Chris Q's, but signed by Ellen Yeomans of Summerland CA. I contacted both Bryan Mumford and Ellen and found that they buillt the dulcimers in a single workshop in the 1970s, signed the ones they made themselves, and sold them at the California Renaissance Fair. Both Chris' and mine are made of golden mahogany with western cedar tops. Mine has a mahogany plywood bottom for strength, but parts other than that and the top are solid mahogany. They have a 27-1/4" VSL and the bodies are nearly 2-3/4" thick and very loud and resonant. Plus the bridge was correctly intonated by the builder. I replaced the tuning machines, which were very stiff despite oiling, with open-geared tuning machines and added new strings, which I tuned to CGC, but I am very impressed with mine and I have over 35 others of various woods and builders to compare it to. I'll be adding a 6-1/2 fret to it and may even add a 1-1/2, 8-1/2, and 13-1/2 frets if the mood strikes me. It's not difficult.

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Lee, thanks for providing more information about this dulcimer. Mixolydian Musical Wood Works is a company with which I am unfamiliar. Do you know if they did many sales beyond the Renaissance Fair? Now that you have pointed out that the top is western red cedar, I can see that. Back in the 1970s there were thousands or tens of thousand dulcimers built from these materials and they are good sounding instruments. These woods were readily available and inexpensive which helped builders keep their prices down. Because this dulcimer lacks features that appeal to contemporary players I don't think it would bring a huge price on the open market, but I think it would be a great dulcimer for a noter style player.

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."

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  • 2 weeks later...

While the Mixolydian dulcimers won't bring high prices, they are very affordable and with a few additional frets would be excellent for chording or flat picking. Adding those frets, along with MOP dots on the fretboard, is a fairly quick and simple job. Although their original design is simple and may not have much curb appeal (exotic woods, inlay, banding, carving, decorative sound hole shapes, etc), they have a superb sound. One thing I noticed in mine, and I'm sure the same applies to Chris' dulcimer as well, is that the western cedar tops have very close growth rings. I counted 71 between the outer edge to the middle of the heart in the lower bout, so these tops are constructed of wood that is about 150 years old!

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