More Adventures In Dulcimer Making

Baritone Dulcimer in progress

Yes, another thrill-packed day in the adventurous life of a dulcimer maker.

Not long ago I wrote about my reasons for no longer taking advance orders for dulcimers.  One reason I did not mention in that post was that sometimes things go wrong while making a dulcimer. If it isn’t already sold there is no time constraint to figure out a way to solve the problem.

Last week I was in the home stretch of making a custom baritone dulcimer. There was a small cosmetic problem that revealed itself after applying the first coat of finish, a streak along part of the seam where the fingerboard joined the soundboard. I think that while scraping the side of the fretboard some of the glue-line was revealed and when the finish hit it there was an obvious change in color and refraction of light.

A straightforward method to solve the problem did not present itself.

I thought of a few things I could try but had a feeling they might just make the problem look worse. I was right.

Before I messed with it I showed the dulcimer to my wife, Cynthia. Cynthia has worked at Elderly Instruments for around 40 years and is a purchaser who buys and handles many fine fretted instruments on a daily basis. Whenever I have a concern about a cosmetic issue with a dulcimer I show it to her. She almost always say that what I am concerned about it not an issue and then I can relax.

This time Cynthia said, “I see it, and it isn’t really that bad. It just isn’t up to your usual level of work.  I don’t think it will really be a problem for anyone.”

But it was a problem for me so I tried to make it better and made it worse.

I contacted the recipient of this dulcimer and explained the situation. I offered to let them have it while I build another for them. He was fine with waiting a few months for me to make him another.

And that is what I am doing. The photograph above shows the sides and endblocks that will soon be life-long friends.

As for the baritone dulcimer with the cosmetic flaw; I think it is going to be an excellent dulcimer. I am going to stain and overcoat it with black finish. Problem solved, and I always wanted to make a black dulcimer!

2 thoughts on “More Adventures In Dulcimer Making

  1. Black and Red milk paint doesn’t matter which one goes on first rub it out with some fine steel wool and oil it up with this on a sample board first…


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