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Two Camac Hourglass Dulcimers

Made by Societé Camac, a small firm based near Nantes in Brittany, during the 70s/early 80s.  I believe they were better known for harps, but the current Camac Harps appear to be a different firm.

1.47  £180  no case:  Fancier than 1.24 below and perhaps less derivative – possibly earlier?  Simple square printed slip with oval black frame within: “CaMac/ [picture of male dulcimer player with hat]/ Mouzeil 44850/ France”.  Solid spruce top, this time with trefoil soundholes; pretty fiddle-figured maple sides and back with colourful purfling and full binding – BUT, it’s all laminate.  Pegbox/scroll and single piece arched fingerboard are made from a rather coarse grained, but figured, rosewood-type wood.  Undercut/arching of fingerboard continues – rather unusually – under the strum hollow.  Hooked scroll with central hollow; friction pegs; zero fret; and big bronze pegs for string anchors.  Thin bone (?) nut and bridge, both reversible for RH and LH players.  Originally no 6+ fret.

Overall length 34¼”, upper bout 5½”, lower bout 6⅞”, depth 2”, FBW 1⅜”, VSL 25⅛” (short scale), weight 1lb 11oz (778g).  Originally no 6½ fret (now provided).  Strings now 0.010, 0.014, 0.022w.

Looks good, though detailed finishing is not perfect.  Very similar dimensions to the 1981 model below.  Loud, bright, not a great deal of subtlety.  Short scale length and decent action make it straightforward to play, although note that the bridge has previously been raised to the maximum.  See pics 3-5 below.

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SOLD  1.24 has a solid spruce top and laminated walnut sides and back.  Design features are a mishmash of well-known US makes, with McSpadden-shaped heart soundholes, elephant trunk Folkcraft scroll, imitation Grover friction tuners etc.  It has a wide, beech or maple fingerboard with zero fret and, originally, no 6½ fret (now added).  Hard plastic nut and bridge, latter slightly compensated for better intonation.  Overall length 34¼”, upper bout 5¼”, lower bout 6¾”, depth 2”, FBW 1½”, VSL 25″ (short scale), weight 1lb 9oz (714g).

Intonation is pretty good and it sounds open and reasonably balanced, if not very characterful.  An affordable and reliable introduction to the dulcimer for a beginner.  See pics 1 & 2 below.

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