Dulcimer Making – My Process

My workbench, or as I prefer to call it, my happy place!

My dulcimer making process is consistently inconsistent.

Maybe a better way to say that is my methods and design are in a constant state of evolution.

There are certain measurements and features that need to be precise; fret placement, fretwork, setup, action, bridge compensation, string spacing, etc., but when it comes to exact body shape and size, bracing, thickness or thinness of the top, sides and back, and just about every other detail, they are unique to each dulcimer.

My methods of work suit my temperament. I like to work by feel and intuition, and most of the work is accomplished using traditional hand tools. I like to get intimate and personal with my work, and I let the wood dictate a lot of where the final design is heading.

Because of how I approach dulcimer making, I don’t make parts in bulk. I tried that for a short time, and I found it creatively constraining. I prefer to make each part for each dulcimer, and the proportions of each part are based on all the other parts as the dulcimer comes together. Making a dulcimer is like watching a plant grow.

That’s how I do this. My methodology would be ineffective if I was trying to produce dulcimers in a more economically viable quantity, but anytime I have tried doing production work, even on a small scale, I don’t enjoy the process, as it feels like I am manufacturing rather than crafting, and it is the process of crafting I enjoy and love.

My blog posts have become infrequent, but I regularly post photos of the thrill and adventure of being a dulcimer maker on Instagram.

2 thoughts on “Dulcimer Making – My Process

  1. Creating dulcimers the way you do makes each one unique. Do what you love and your life will never become boring. And the musicians who play your dulcimers will never tire of creating their special music on their special instrument.
    The wood color, grain and pattern are never the same on one of your dulcimers why should the shape?

    1. Thanks, Bill. I figure I can’t do anything better or more perfect that the tree did when it created the wood, so I try to work with it rather than against it!

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