I made my first Appalachian Mountain Dulcimer in 1969 in Vietnam, as a soldier, and although I have made a few other stringed instruments, dulcimers are what I like to make. My workshop is located at my home by the side of the Gulaga Mountain, Tilba, NSW Australia, where I aim to create fine hand-made musical instruments from high quality woods, which produce a sweet, loud and sustained tone. I only make a few dulcimers every year and my hope is that they will give their owners a lifetime of musical enjoyment.
I like to use Australian woods in the construction, and Australia has many timber species suitable for musical instruments. Eucalypts such as Jarrah, Mountain Ash and Yellow Stringybark can provide natural colours from deep red to creamy satin, and many acacias (wattles) have striking fiddleback figure and even pastel colours. I also like to use PNG Rosewood which I first discovered when I worked in Papua New Guinea some time ago. PNG Rosewood is resonant, looks beautiful, and smells like … rosewood. All of my dulcimers are made from solid timbers, with quality top-woods selected for their acoustic, structural and aesthetic features. Woods for backs and sides are selected for colour and figure and their effect on tone. Tops and backs are bookmatched pairs with internal bracing designed to increase strength and enhance tonal qualities.
There is a zero fret and a 6 ½ fret – fret ends are semi-hemispherical. The bridge saddle is bone. High quality machine tuners are fitted and either loop-end or ball-end strings can be used. A transparent scratch plate is fitted and fretboards have five mother-of-pearl position dots as standard.
My dulcimers are generally unadorned and feature a fiddle edge in the traditional style. Three small wooden feet hold the instruments off flat surfaces to increase loudness when played on a table. Sound-holes can be traditional hearts or any acoustically reasonable design.
Each dulcimer is supplied with a soft cover, a wooden capo and a booklet to help beginners get started.