The Realm of the Verbal Processor

Jarvis's Ramblings

Building a Hammered Dulcimer–Take 2

It’s a little sad that the last time I posted was almost two years ago, and now I’m posting a follow up to that post. When I built the hammered dulcimer a couple of years ago, there was a problem with the instrument that came up shortly after I built it. Basic gist is that the soundboard collapsed due to a structural failure. I combined two different sets of plans when I made that dulcimer. One of the plans said you could get good sound using 1/4 inch plywood for the soundboard, so I used that. What I failed to note was that the internal bracing for that set of plans was different from the bracing that I used from the other set of plans. The end result is that there wasn’t proper bracing beneath the bass bridge, the soundboard collapsed, and there was no way to salvage the instrument. I had spent too much time on it at the time to even think about rebuilding from scratch at that time, so it unfortunately went on the back burner for well over a year.

A few months ago I pulled that project back out and built a new hammered dulcimer for my daughter. It went much faster the second time around because I had learned a lot from the first time, and I have gotten better at woodworking since then.

Here are a few pictures of the end result. I am very pleased with how it turned out. In a nutshell, this is the most beautiful thing I have ever built from wood, and there isn’t a close second. There is a video below of me talking about the instrument and playing a couple of short segments (the beginning of Ode to Joy and the intro to Creed by Rich Mullins). No, I don’t actually know how to play it, but I can learn just enough to at least vaguely sound like the song.

The frame and internal bracing are all made from hard maple. The soundboard is mahogany, and the bridges and side pieces are from purpleheart. And yes, purpleheart is naturally purple. The whole thing got a thin coat of boiled linseed oil followed by multiple coats of lacquer.


November 25, 2020 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment


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