Doug Berch

Dulcimer Maker And Musician

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Month: February 2009 Page 1 of 2

My Personal Dulcimer Setup

My standard dulcimer setup features what I have found to be the most popular configuration with most players; 4 strings with the 6 1/2 and 13 1/2 frets. The action is set up for a balance of playability and clean sound (minimal buzzes if you play it hard).

I recommend this setup to most people unless they have something else in mind (I offer the option of additional frets and stringing configurations on the dulcimers I make). You can always play a 4 string as a 3 string, change the nut and bridge to accommodate different string spacing, etc.

four string dulcimer peghead

I personally play with 3 strings. I bend strings and play with left hand vibrato and have found that 3 single strings work better for me.

Doug Berch playing dulcimer

My personal dulcimers have a fret between the nut and first fret (I call this a “half fret”) and a 1 1/2 fret . This adds a few chromatic notes that occasionally come in very handy. The 1 1/2 fret seems to have become relatively popular but not many people seem to use a fret between the nut and the first fret.

A Simple Foot Powered Jig Saw

I might have to get around to making one of these. I have a deep appreciation for simple, effective technology and this certainly looks like it fits the bill.

A simple foot powered jig saw

simple foot powered jig saw

Why this jig saw was considered “less desirable for ladies’ use” is perplexing.  This was written in 1875 but it still makes no sense to me.

This plan came from “Fret Sawing and Wood Carving (1875)” available for free at the always wonderful Internet Archive.

Plane Away The Pounds!

I just spent the last hour hand planing a beautiful piece of figured walnut.

wood shavings on the floor

I was reminded of an idea I’ve had for some time; an  exercise program for woodworkers called “Plane Away The Pounds!”

It’s really simple! You get a bunch of rough-sawn lumber, preferably locally harvested in an environmentally conscious manner and sawn by a local sawyer who loves wood as much as you do.

You take said wood to the bench, sharpen up a few planes and plane away, imagining that each shaving that hits the floor equals a hand full of calories you’ve just worked off.

There could be a video series, a video for each size of bench plane. Start out with a #4 and work your way up to a #8! Back-bevel the blade for a super-intense workout!

type 11 number 7 plane

If you are really out of shape you can start with a #3. And if the only excercise you usually get is reaching for your wallet you may be a perfect candiate to start with a #1!

Am I rich yet?


Embracing The Creative Life

When I was a teenager an older friend gave me a very helpful piece of advice.

He said, “You are a creative person and you may find that you don’t fit in mainstream culture. This can make you feel like there is something wrong with you, but really,  it’s just that you are creative.  You won’t necessarily be happy with the things that make other people  happy. It may not be easy but you”ll find your way.”

This was some of the best advice I have ever received.

A common thread among the creative people I know is passion; a passion that drives them to prioritize that which they are passionate about.


Passion and creativity are not limited to music, crafts, art, etc.. The objects and objectives of passion are endless.

To follow passion one will make trade-offs.

Embracing the creative life

The creative, passionate person will not feel alive unless they are expressing creativity and passion.

With all this comes a need for balance.

And there will be surprises.

Embracing the surprises life brings

And I think I already said something about trade-offs.

It’s all part of the adventure.

“Let the beauty we love be what we do. There are hundred of ways to kneel and kiss the ground”

-Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi

Doug Berch: Dulcimer Maker and Player on

Doug Berch with hammered and mountain dulcimerMy old dulci-buddy (is that a new word?) Lois Hornbostel edits, a bi-monthly blog about all things dulcimer.

I am delighted to have my arrangement of “Texas” featured. The article includes mountain dulcimer tablature, standard notation for hammered dulcimer or other instruments and an mp3 of “Texas” from my latest mountain dulcimer CD, “Songs From My Past – Music with Mountain Dulcimer.”

This link will take you to the article: “Texas” – A Traditional Tune for Mountain and Hammered Dulcimers

Thanks Lois!

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Doug Berch & Dulcimer Makers

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