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Phil Chestnut

My Little Dulcimer

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For the last month or so as some of you know I have been building a box Dulcimer. It's close to done now. I have been posting a few Pic along the way. here are a few more pics. It's almost ready to play. I just need to do some math to find where to place the frets on the neck. you just can't slap them on anywhere you think you may need. Math and me don't always get a long.



The easy part is I have a fret calculator, the the answers it gives me I need to turn into fractions.because I don't know where to find numbers like 2.292"on my ruler.

But moving on I was busy this week I had to make an end piece so I would have a place to anchor the strings to bring them up over the bridge then up to the nut. I made it out of some scraps of mahogany and maple





Here it is mounted on the box. Also a small scrap piece of wood to show how the neck would look on it.




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Phil that is way cool! And you got a cool cat doing the calculations for ya too!

Phil, would this be a dulcimer played exclusively on your lap? I cannot get a good idea of the size of it.

Nice looking scroll work and the top of the dulcimer you did some nice work on too with the sound holes. Makes me want to jump in soon and get one myself!

Thanks for showing Phil.



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John's it's going to be to big to be played on your lap it. this thing has turned in to a monster, It is pushing 3' in length and is 12" wide. I wanted the one to be a baritone so it is bigger and heaver than the normal Dulcimer The strings will be a heaver gauge and will put more stress on the body. If I have done my job right it will have a nice deep mellow sound to it.

Ron I will be sure to post a video.

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Oh John I all most forgot. the next thing I am planing is a walk through on how to build your own Dulcimer. I have been setting down at my Drawing broad trying to make some blue prints. so if anyone want to build one they will have them to use. I never had plans to build a dulcimer before. I one of those people if I can see it in my head I can build it. I just hope there will be some interest in it.

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Larry I can still to change plans, that not a big deal. I will still keep the same measurement and size I just need to change from a triangle to a boxshape. Now I can go with the scroll head or change to more of a head like the one above. I just want to do one that people well want to try to make. I'll see if I can find some Tennessee music box heads Pics.

If any one else out there has any ideals on this please feel free to jump in and say so. rather you want to learn to play or have a nice looking peace of musical art to hang on your wall. They also would make a nice gift for that musical person in the family.



Oops the old salesman in me slipping out.




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What wood would you recommend for the soundboard?


From your photos it appears that the sides are 3/4" thick. Is this correct?


If oak is ok for the sides and backboard, I have some nice pieces that are 24" long that I could use.

Would it be better to use the oak for just the sides, and use the same type wood for soundboard and backboard?

I also have some sapael 3 pcs ( Thanks Ron ) that is 2 1/8"x3/4"x27" for making the fret board.

I'm sorry for asking so many questions, but this would be my first attempt at building an instrument.

I think the Box Style looks to be the easiest to start with.



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OK Larry I'll see what I can do here. The one I have been working on is Poplar. I tend to use that a lot for one reason. It's hard for me to find the woods I would like to use. Poplars good. but if I could get it I would use Sitka Spruce the same as used for Guitar sounds broads. Ceder also good I have seen a few all ceder builds I got to try that sometime. Cherry good. you can get by with oak, Chestnut, rosewood, black walnut.

for the box I did go thick because I wanted a bass sound and needed the heaver wood. normally for a box I wood go 1/4 to1/2 thick. But that sapael ya got would be perfect. So you would be looking at a box of 12"wide by 27" long. anyway you wish to join the side is ok. I have seen everything from but joints, rabbit joints , finger joints and even dovetails, they look cool.

your VSL would be 27" from nut to bridge you will want to go here to this fret calculator. it will give you the mesurments you will need to place your frets.


Now if you want to use a scroll head I can send you some plans for that.

for the fret broad that is 34" long at the moment tell we know what kind of tuning head you want. 1-3/8 wide and 5/8"thick

oh almost forgot you want you sound broad to be 1/8 thick.

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here is how SI lay out the VSL or fret spacing. after working out to where the frets should go I transfer everything over on to card stock after double checking to make sure I got it right. I line it up with the finger broad and mark.




cut and stained.




oops my medicine bag got into the photo somehow.


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