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Mountain Dulcimer

October 26th, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

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Mountain Dulcimer
What tone of wood is the best for making mountain dulcimers?

Do you think bass or treble drum is important in a mountain? When I look for a dulcimer, I listen to a high bass response, a very sharp response that is smooth to the ears, and large enough to cut in jam, where other instruments are stronger.

The "best" wood tone that produced a dulcimer that sounds good to you. Dulcimers are very tolerant wood they are made. Personally, I like the cherry back and sides - I like the way it looks and I like the way it behaves when I'm building with he. I think the wood top is wood important for sound (and since you asked about "tone" of wood, I'm assuming your question is toward peaks. Harder wood, like cherry, has a "strong" sound. Spruce (my favorite) has a mellow sound. Redwood or western cedar has a sound soft, good for an eardrum staff not to project the sound of a crowd. I have used all three in the flutes that I built, and I think the spruce tops have the best all-in about the sound quality. The lower the response would be most affected by the size of the dulcimer, I think. Bigger is better for bass. If I had to choose a combination good bass and treble soft, I would build a psalter deep (1-3/4 "or larger) with a good spruce top. There are also things you can do with the board fret, but that's a bit complicated for this response. If you buy or build a new dulcimer, expect the sound to get better as you play for the first months. You should be able to hear the change during the first weeks of play. As a retired metallurgical engineer, I am very familiar with the "stress relief" and I think that is what is happening when it touches any new stringed instrument. I always set mine up and down the scale a couple of weeks before moving along. Len Dorsett

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