Building a Teardrop Shaped Mountain Dulcimer

Here are a series of photographs on the building of a Mountain Dulcimer. This particular instrument was a special project for a Singer/Songwriter and Mountain Dulcimer player.


The tuning scroll is cut out at the band saw. This wood is Makore, a lovely African wood, similar to Mahogany in texture.




Below: I drew out a full-sized pattern of the teardrop shaped dulcimer.


… and steamed the Black Walnut wood for bending the sides to the pattern’s shape. This process takes about 20 to 30 minutes.



Above: The wood is carefully bent and dried in a simple jig. I use a Hair Dryer to speed up the drying and it produces much less spring-back this way.


The first parts ready for assembly.



Next, I cut out the bottom board. It is 1/8″ thick African Mahogany. I think it will produce a warm tone with the Black Walnut sides and top.


Here I am trimming the bottom. The edges will not be flush with the sides, but slightly protruded, like on a violin. I had also added bracing, ribs and some glue blocks to provide more gluing surface for the top and bottom planks.


I next laid put the Finger board. It is a 25.5 ” VSL length from nut to bridge.


I next laid out and cut the top plank to fit. It also is 1/8″ thick.


I next carefully laid out the Sound Holes for balance and proportion. The large Heart-and-Lace rosettes are of Cherry wood, and the upper holes are simple elements  I designed.  After the Sound Holes were completed, I glued the Finger Board onto the top plank.


Next I glued and clamped the top onto the body and let it dry for over 12 hours.


Above and below: Trimming the Tail piece and the Tuning scroll…


… and hours of sanding and detailing work.

33 Bob

I next installed the mechanical tuners, made and fit the Nut and Bridge and began applying the wood finish, a satin Poly…


At this point I step back and look at the instrument’s overall design and balance. it needed ‘something’.  I added a bit more Inlays on the top and behind the bridge to balance it visually.

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That looks good to me!



Small details make a big difference…



And now, it will rest overnight and get a set of strings tomorrow.

And here is the completed Mountain Dulcimer


dulcimer logo bgd 2017

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 Music keeps you young at heart ♥




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