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Project Information

Let me state right off the bat that I am NOT a luthier or anything close. In fact, I don't even play any instruments and this the first time I've attempted anything like this. But I have a very good friend in my church that plays the dulcimer and is teaching a few of the kids to play. He will be leaving soon to go to grad school and wanted to give the kids something. After trying in vain for a while to find something online, he approached me to see if I would be interested in building a few dulcimers for them. I jumped at the chance because one, they are great kids and two, it would be a great learning experience.

I had some walnut laying around and a friend with a drum sander, so we got all the carcass pieces thinned down to 1/8". I found out later many makers go with even thinner stock, but this seemed to work fine.

We set off in search of some plans and originally, I bought a set of hourglass dulcimer plans from Gen One Luthier supply. However, I didn't have a steam bending setup and I was having a hard time keeping the sides from splitting, even after soaking them for up to a week. So we ditched those plans and I drew up a set of my own based on the teardrop style. Much easier to bend! I made a jig to hold the peg head, tail piece, and sides in the proper alignment and built one prototype, noting the mistakes so we didn't make them again! After we worked out the issues, we finished 4 more, shown in the pic. Finished with Tried and True. I think they came out great, and for a first time, they sound pretty good. The kids were so excited to receive them.

Gallery

Comments

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803 Posts
Those are beautiful, what a terrific job.
I disagree, you ARE a luthier! The sound board "holes" are awesome, so nice.
 

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They look perfect from here. Nice to see other instrument builders posting.
 

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Really looks great. Wonderful gifts for the kids. Something to treasure.
 

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Thanks for the kind words. I'm sure real dulcimer maker could produce a much better instrument, but for learning, they should do just fine. It was definitely a fun project. Already have some interest from friends for a few more!
 

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Nice! That's an interesting scale on those. I had to google that.
 

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Those are wonderful and a beautiful instrument to look at. You have made yourself proud, well done. It would be nice to see some additional photos, and hear a sound clip.
 

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Those look great. I made one in the sixth grade from a kit I believe. Might be fun to try again now that I have lots of tools. Musical instruments are thing of beauty but I think I have a better shot at building one over playing one.
 

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look like some pretty nice dulcimers to me.we have something here called the sawdust festival,artists of all mediums.there used to be a guy that made dulcimers and yours look as nice as what he did.i love the sound that make.he also recorded music.
 

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What beautiful gifts!! Sounds like a fun and challenging project.
 

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Those are wonderful and a beautiful instrument to look at. You have made yourself proud, well done. It would be nice to see some additional photos, and hear a sound clip.

- Eric
Will see what I can do. My friend plans to have all the kids (and adults) do a special at church soon so I'll try to get a video of that. Also need to build at least one more and plan to take more photos this time.
 

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I really like your sound holes. I have made 5 and they are fun to make and they all had different sound holes.
Those really look nice Good job.
 

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I agree those look really stunning. The kids are going to love them.
 

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We tried to personalize each one according to each child's interests. The older boy loves fishing, the girl loves horses, and the little brother is a dinosaur nut. We figured he might grow out of dinosaurs, but he's also fascinated with lizards, so we went with those lol.

I've gotten a huge response to my post on Facebook and am considering making a few more. Been doing a lot of reading on design and have come to the conclusion that there is no 'right' way to make them. It all depends on the sound you like. I believe these would make great instruments for beginners/
 

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Wow! Great story and great products. Again, wow!
 

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Wonderful job. I've never wished this on anyone before but may your church be filled with the sound of dulcimers. Lol.
 

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Wonderful job. I've never wished this on anyone before but may your church be filled with the sound of dulcimers. Lol.

- JCamp
It will be lol. There are a total of 6 so far. Not sure how it's going to go. Might be like an elementary school band concert, but everyone will have fun!
 

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Lovely and inspirational.
 

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So, now you can no longer say your not a luthier! Love the gecko motif. Wonderful gift.
 
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