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1.74   1990 Burge Searing 4 string, 3/4 course Teardrop  £230 + £20 case

Earl Burge Searing Jr (1941-2008) was born and lived in Florida until 1981, when his wife got a job in Atlanta and they moved to Stone Mountain, Georgia.  Burge was a trained musician, but also an accomplished artist and furniture maker.  About 1985, he was given a mountain dulcimer kit and very much enjoyed building it and learning to play the instrument.  He soon built a better instrument for himself and thus began the business of building dulcimers and other unusual instruments for sale.  He received positive feedback from several fairs he attended, so in 1986 opened his own shop, called Hand Crafted Dulcimers, in a barn at the back of Stone Mountain Village.  The first 4 digits of the serial number indicate date and year, the last digits the number of instruments built to date.  Some models have a K at the end to indicate they were made from kits (not necessarily his).  He made a wide variety of instruments, including hammered dulcimers, harps, psalteries and banjos, the serial numbers suggesting a total build of over 1700 instruments in total.  Burge suffered a stroke in 2002 which ended his woodworking, followed by terminal cancer in 2008 at the relatively early age of 67.

1.74  Teardrop:  Printed slip inside – “Handcrafted Dulcimers/Burge Searing [signature]/ Mountain and hammered dulcimers/Books, records, tapes, accessories/ No. 0890594 [h/w]/ Burge Searing [shop and home telephones]”.

Conventional teardrop shape but unusual combination of materials:  laminated mahogany back, solid mahogany top and rich red-brown solid (?) mahogany sides (almost koa colour/grain).  The scroll head and pegbox, together with the single piece fingerboard, are cherry.  Neat block of hard maple incorporated on top of mahogany tail block to act as string strainer.  Hard black plastic ‘nut’ and zero fret with white plastic bridge – both cut for 3 or 4 course layouts.  6+ but not 13+ fret.  Markers at frets 3, 7, 10, 14 formed from small holes with black paint at the bottom.  Open-geared tuners with white plastic buttons.  Stumpy scroll with an open-backed pegbox.  Weeping heart soundholes with tails pointing to rear.

Overall length 37¼”, upper bout n/a, lower bout 7⅜”, side depth 1¾”, FBW  1½”, VSL 28½ (medium/long scale), weight 2lbs 2oz (965g), strings now 10/10, 14, 23w. Original 6½ fret.

Excellent intonation, good action and decent tone, without great sustain.  Usual bias towards treble but quite good volume.  A decent intermediate style instrument.

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