2.48 & 2.79 Dulcimer Works – 3 String and 4 String Hourglass – £Sold and £Sold
The Dulcimer Works was established in Santa Monica, California by Carmi Simon and the brothers Fratti, in partnership with the town’s famous guitar shop/acoustic music venue, McCabe’s. TDW produced over 1000 dulcimers of good quality between 1968 and 1975, including more elaborate models with exotic woods and inlays. An indian rosewood model is the dulcimer heard on Joni Mitchell’s “Blue” album. I saw Andy Roberts of “Plainsong” using one of these as recently as Summer 2012 – referenced also on his website!
2.48 March 1972 #391: Square printed label “The Dulcimer Works/ Santa Monica, Calif./ Model W [h/w] No. 391 [h/w]/ 3/6/72 [h/w]”.
All solid walnut 3 string, originally with fiddle sides but these were chipped beyond repair. Rather wavy-grained spruce top with single-piece (i.e. non-bookmatched) walnut back. Hollow single piece walnut fingerboard with no 6+ fret originally, bone nut and bridge, fret-type string strainer on top of the tailpiece to prevent damage, simple mushroom headed brass pins as string anchors. Originally plastic violin-style friction pegs, now replaced with nickel plated geared banjo tuners with pearl, plastic buttons. Very pretty scroll on short, narrow pegbox.
Overall length 35½”, upper bout 5”, lower bout 6⅝”, depth 1⅞”, FBW 1⅜”, VSL 27¾” (medium/long scale), weight 1lb 11oz (758g). New 6+ fret, no 13+ fret. Strings now 10, 14, 23w.
I like this one. A pretty and neat dulcimer with a very strong voice – bright and dynamic, although with plenty of responsiveness and subtlety if required. Clear separation of notes from a slightly higher than average action, but medium scale length makes for easy playing. Excellent intonation generally, with just a little drift on the bass string at the top of the 2nd octave. N.B. fretboard is on the narrow side for modern tastes but works fine with the 3 string setup. Has undergone quite radical cosmetic treatment, including removal of the fiddle edging on top and back, repair of some damage to the side and re-finishing as necessary. Now looking good and playing very well – a bargain at this price.
2.79 June 1972 #418: Square printed label “The Dulcimer Works/ Santa Monica, Calif./ Model W [h/w] No. 418 [h/w]/ 6/24/72 [h/w]”.
All solid walnut 4 string, but this time with straight, not fiddle sides. Top is good quality, slightly yellow spruce (or possibly dyed red cedar?), single piece walnut back, shortish, narrow pegbox with neat scroll. Four heart soundholes pointing to tail; bone nut and bridge; fret mounted on top of tailpiece as string strainer; three mushroom-headed brass pins as string anchors. No 6+ or 13+ fret. Original ineffective plastic violin-style tuners have been replaced by nickel plated, geared banjo tuners with black buttons.
Overall length 36”, upper bout 5”, lower bout 6¾”, depth 1⅞”, FBW 1⅜”, VSL 27¾” (medium/long scale), weight 1lb 13oz (843g). New 6+ fret, no 13+ fret. Strings now 10/10, 14, 22w.
Like #391, this is surprisingly loud, with a good balanced sound and well separated notes. In excellent condition overall, with just a short, hairline crack on the far side top (now fully stabilised) and a small chip on the nut.
Click on the thumbnails below to enlarge each photo: