View Full Version : Researching for the next build

07-17-2016, 04:00 AM
I like to see what instruments are being made (not just ukes). As a hobby builder, I look for ideas/something to inspire me to spend a couple of weeks in the workshop.

The last few days I've been researching Appalachian dulcimers, listening to them being played, learning about their history and seeing how they are made (Google and YouTube). I think it's correct to say that most people here in the UK have zero or very little knowledge of this American folk instrument.

As a maker, I'm naturally interested in the finer points of construction and the differing ideas about what makes a good instrument.

I came across this video which I thought might interest instrument makers: it certainly was of interest to me!

I know it's not a uke, and I'm not suggesting its message is applicable to ukes. You need to watch it to the end. (less than 2 minutes)


Michael N.
07-17-2016, 06:30 AM
I've seen a few of them over the years in the UK. None with paper soundboards though! David Dyke does a plan for one and also sells the wood. Zachary Taylor published a book called 'Making Early musical instruments' that also contains a plan. I've no idea to what standards these are. I guess that being a folk instrument it's doubtful that they are going to be complex things. Back in the late '70's they were often seen as being a place to start with musical instrument making. Having said all that I suppose you can make them as plain or as complicated as you wish i.e. lot's of inlay and fancy decoration.

07-17-2016, 07:53 AM
Michael N:

I don't see this as a difficult instrument to build.

I'm not very musical and this acts as a huge disincentive to making instruments that I'll never be able to play.

I'm attracted to the dulcimer because it's apparently an instrument on which I'll be able to play a melody and not just strum or finger pick an accompaniment.

However the post was really about the video: I thought it gave similar insights as those I obtained when seeing/hearing Robert O'Brien's latest cardboard backed classical guitar.


07-17-2016, 06:25 PM
My first instrument build was a dulcimer and they are easy to build and sound great. A lovely American invention. Perfect starter instrument. They are easy because there is no sting tension and it is a straight through fretboard. Basically it is an acoustic "stick". Easy to play too. Takes about 5 minutes to learn Amazing Grace. However, ukuleles are a whole 'nother beast.

07-18-2016, 07:12 AM
Cool video...I've never seen one with a newspaper top. I wonder if it matters what type of newspaper you use. I'm guessing for a folk instrument you would want a local newspaper or maybe tabloid.