View Full Version : HELP: Can anyone identify this instrument?

02-01-2012, 02:47 PM
It was given to me as a gift, so I don't know too much about it. I've looked for the maker's information, but there is no phone number and the store is based in Tennessee. SO, if anyone has any experience with unusual instruments, feel free to chime in!

33093 33094 33095


The strings are steel, as far as I can tell.
The store it comes from sells a lot of Appalachian dulcimers, though this does not look like the photos of these that I have seen. I suppose it could technically still be one (with a differently-shaped body), but I'm a little dubious.
It is tuned like a ukulele. This part, however, I'm not sure how to weight, as I know there are lots of other instruments that can be tuned like ukuleles (e.g. banjos).
As the picture shows, there is no sound hole, and the back is also open rather than closed, though there are sides.

Any ideas?

Thanks so much!

02-01-2012, 03:23 PM
The back says "hand crafted by Larry E. Dodson #295 03/11"

Sunshine Mountain Dulcimers (850) 264-6160

Looks like one of these:

http://aboutthesmokys.com/_gsmp2_gat/sunshine_mountain_dulcimers_gatlinburg_peek_inside _photo5of11b.htm

Edit: Found an email addy for him here:


musicmadesimple (at) aol (dot) com

02-02-2012, 08:54 AM
How does it sound?

02-09-2012, 06:09 AM
Regardless of what it really is, it is a fretted instrument with 4 strings. You can either tune it as ukulele or as mandolin and play as such.
Can you post a clip to show how it sounds ?
This instrument really look nice. Maybe you can try to glue in the back and see if it sounds better.

02-09-2012, 06:11 AM
Looks like a one-off banjo or uke to me. Of course, if the scale length is long enough, I suppose it could also be a really unique parlor guitar.

02-09-2012, 06:15 AM
Looks like an hexagonal camp uke


Maybe steel strings were put by mistake.

02-14-2012, 07:16 PM
Some more information on their facebook account -


03-08-2012, 04:23 AM
It looks to me to be similar to an Appalachian banjo (picture below) which typically have all wood bodies and rims and may have a wooden head like the picture you have or some kind of skin for the head like my picture. I dub yours to be an Appalachian banjolele.

03-08-2012, 06:26 AM
Some more information on their facebook account -

If you look at the pics on the FB page, they made a purple heart one that says it is a ukulele. With a neck like that I think steel strings will be fine. could be fun to play.

03-10-2012, 11:50 AM
It's a banjo uke with a wood (probably spruce) top. The studs around the top side of the hoop is cosmetic...simulates a "tacked on" skin head. Hexagonal shape not that unusual in those kinds of wood shops. I've seen one or two. They often sound amazingly banjo like. This guy at Zither Heaven makes them, although not nearly as nice as the one you are showing....that ones sweet looking.


07-29-2012, 06:07 AM
i met mr.dodson just the other day and bought a "dulcimer-banjo" from him. its the same body as yours but with the dulcimers paird strings and spaced out frets on the neck. the model you have he had set up as baritone and tenor ukes, banjos, and a six stirng guitar. he sold them with four or five difrent sets of strings and a tuning and song sheat for each set. he also made dulcimers, ukes, "back pack" dulcimers, cigar box guitars, and canjo strum sticks. vrey nice work and clean bright tones on the ones i looked at