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Stick Dulcimer: Up-Cycled Owl Box with Electric Pickup

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Description

This stick dulcimer turns an up-cycled craft box into an eye-catching easy-to-play string instrument. The smooth maple neck provides strength and stability; the thin box top makes a perfect sound board. The sound is crisp and bright, faithful to the dulcimer's mountain folk roots. Played with a pick, the volume is comfortable for a small room or small gatherings. When big sound is wanted, connect to an amplifier using the included standard output jack.

With just three strings and simplified fingering, the stick dulcimer is much quicker to learn and easier to play than a guitar or ukulele. The instrument is tuned to yield natural harmonies, even using just one finger across the strings. Beginners typically can pick out favorite tunes within an hour or so. Advanced players, of course, can play chords (a chord chart is included). The internet is rich in videos to help new players.

This instrument measures about 24 inches long; the box is about 5.6 inches square and 1.8 inches thick. Weight is about one pound, 1 ounce. Scale length is much shorter than a guitar's (17.75 inches vs. 24-25 inches), so notes are easier to reach for smaller or less experienced hands. The compact size makes it the ideal take-along instrument for picnics, campfires, sing-alongs or just at-home musical relaxation.

Normal tuning is open D (D3-A3-D4)--typical of modern dulcimers. Other tunings are available on request. (Variations may add to the shipping time.) Standard guitar strings are used.

The instrument pictured is in stock and will normally ship within two business days of purchase. It comes with picks, builder's certificate, chord chart, instruction sheet, song sheet, and a small complimentary gift bag.
This stick dulcimer turns an up-cycled craft box into an eye-catching easy-to-play string instrument. The smooth maple neck provides strength and stability; the thin box top makes a perfect sound board. The sound is crisp and bright, faithful to the dulcimer's mountain folk roots. Played with a pick, the volume is comfortable for a small room or small gatherings. When big sound is wanted, connect to an amplifier using the included standard output jack.

With just three strings and simplified fingering, the stick dulcimer is much quicker to learn and easier to play than a guitar or ukulele. The instrument is tuned to yield natural harmonies, even using just one finger across the strings. Beginners typically can pick out favorite tunes within an hour or so. Advanced players, of course, can play chords (a chord chart is included). The internet is rich in videos to help new players.

This instrument measures about 24 inches long; the box is about 5.6 inches square and 1.8 inches thick. Weight is about one pound, 1 ounce. Scale length is much shorter than a guitar's (17.75 inches vs. 24-25 inches), so notes are easier to reach for smaller or less experienced hands. The compact size makes it the ideal take-along instrument for picnics, campfires, sing-alongs or just at-home musical relaxation.

Normal tuning is open D (D3-A3-D4)--typical of modern dulcimers. Other tunings are available on request. (Variations may add to the shipping time.) Standard guitar strings are used.

The instrument pictured is in stock and will normally ship within two business days of purchase. It comes with picks, builder's certificate, chord chart, instruction sheet, song sheet, and a small complimentary gift bag.

Reviews

5 out of 5 stars
(14)

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Returns & exchanges

I gladly accept returns and exchanges
Contact me within: 14 days of delivery
Ship items back within: 30 days of delivery
I don't accept cancellations
But please contact me if you have any problems with your order.
The following items can't be returned or exchanged
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Buyers are responsible for return shipping costs. If the item is not returned in its original condition, the buyer is responsible for any loss in value.

FAQs

The dulcimer is a 3 (or 4) string instrument, with frets arranged for a major (do-re-mi...) scale. Modern dulcimers are usually tuned to open D or G, so that a simple chord is available at every fret.
The Two Basic Dulcimer Types

(1) Traditional Appalachian Mountain dulcimer: a sound box, often in a teardrop or hour-glass shape, topped with a fret board. It's played horizontally on a table or the player's lap.

(2) Stick Dulcimer: guitar-like shape, i.e., fret board on a neck that opens into a small sound box. Smaller and lighter than a mountain dulcimer, it's held like a guitar for playing.

Another instrument, called a Hammered Dulcimer, is a very distant cousin. It has one string for each note, and it's played by striking the strings with small hammers. It's a historical accident that they're both called dulcimers.
A dulcimer has fewer strings than a guitar or ukulele. More importantly it has fewer frets--basically only the white keys of a piano. As a result, the dulcimer is much easier than other string instruments to play.
Four-string dulcimers usually have just three string courses, i.e., two of the strings are tuned identically and run next to each other.
Since it's a folk instrument, there are no rules about playing a dulcimer. Two basic styles, however, are common.

(1) Traditional Note-and-Drone play. In this style, a melody is played on the highest string while the other two strings create a droning accompaniment. Early mountain dulcimers often were not even fretted under the drone strings. Most players start out with this style, and many never move away from it.

(2) Chordal play. In this style, chords are formed much like those on a guitar or ukulele. Chord charts for stick dulcimers are readily available.

Of course many variants are common--that's part of the fun!
Tonewoods are always controversial among players and builders! Preferences are subjective and differences are subtle, but here are my observations based on over 150 instruments built:

NECK AND BACK WOODS
Cherry - rich, mellow
Maple - bright, clear
Padauk - bright, lively
Walnut - rounded, mellow

TOP WOODS
Aspen - rich, rounded
Cedar - crisp, lively

The outside woods, have most influence on the sound in about this order: Top, Sides, Back.
The wood piece is called the saddle, perhaps because the strings ride on it. Its placement is critical: too low and the instrument will be flat, too high and it will be sharp.

Because the strings are different thicknesses, they need to be at slightly different distances from the nut.

The saddle is slanted so that the thinnest string can be slightly closer to the nut.

Adjusting the saddle is the last step in building a stick dulcimer.
The strings are attached to small brass pins set at an angle in drilled holes at the instrument's tail. To change a string, just
1. Cut the string (or loosen it at the tuning peg).
2. Pull out the pin with a pliers: regular slip-joint pliers are fine,
(Remember that the pins are angled slightly downward.)
3. Place the pin through the new string's loop.
4. Tap the pin into place.
5. Attach the string's free end to the tuning peg and tighten.

Note that the saddle is spot-glued to the instrument top, so it shouldn't fall off. If you want to re-adjust the intonation, just tap the saddle and it will pop free.

If you need help choosing new strings, please contact me.

Stick Dulcimer: Up-Cycled Owl Box with Electric Pickup

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Overview

  • Handmade item
  • Materials: maple, Craft Box, Guitar Strings, Tuning Pegs
  • Favorited by: 14 people
  • Gift message available
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From Rensselaer Falls, NY
Returns and exchanges accepted
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