Showing posts from July, 2020

The "ulta-lite"

28 inch Vibrating String Length  Once the Betty design was complete, I wondered about the string length being less than the Kentucky standard; about 28.5 inches. Understanding the weight to mass ratio, I began a study to determine the dimensions of a 28 inch piece. Elongating the piece required narrowing it and removing as much material as possible and the ultra-lite was born! The very narrow waist is reminiscent of the Thomas pieces. It is difficult if not impossible to make a traditional Appalachian piece without picking up some aspect of his work! It did after all change very little in some sixty years. Although a very different approach to the traditional sound as the Betty, it simple fulfills a different tonal dimension. The 28 inch VSL is best tuned somewhere around (C), where as the Betty’s 26 inch VSL is better suited up around a (d) or even (e). Not that either can be tuned higher or lower but they have sweet spots dependent on their dynamics. Prices start at just $425


26 inch Vibrating String Length   When I first started this dulcimore adventure I asked myself, what makes the dulcimore sound like a dulcimore? I read all the books I could find about traditional pieces and those that had measurements I used to make a spread sheet with the sound box dimensions. The median measurements are what I extracted for the “Betty”. Of course there is more to the dulcimore timber than dimension; poplar was the wood of choice for makers Prichard and Thomas. Placement of the nut and bridge over the very ends of the sound box and three feet to set it off the table top for play are equally important. The use of wooden friction tuners and music wire strings and most importantly, the ratio of weight to mass of the strings to the instrument! The peg head I designed is simple. It has a ball end to reflect the circle sound holes which are lunar.  The tail piece is Thomas “esk”, I’m especially fond of the wide staple the strings break against to protect the wood