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1.22 – Early 1970s – Musical Traditions 4 String Hourglass – £160

Unnumbered, but branded on the end stock, “Musical Traditions NYC”; therefore presumably made while the firm/music store was owned by Hank Levin and located in New York.  The store was bought by David Eisner in 1972 and he moved the Musical Traditions shop to Takoma Park, Maryland (and subsequently in 1974 to Berkeley Springs W Virginia).   The dulcimer business was sold at about the same time to the Guitar’s Friend music store in Sandpoint, Idaho who continued to make instruments for several years, perhaps into the 1980s.

An unusual, N Carolina/Virginia hourglass shaped dulcimer (reverse sloping shoulder).  Top, back and sides are solid cherry – as is almost certainly the single piece fingerboard, tail piece and headstock.  Simple but neat scroll with fully open pegbox.  Originally wooden tuning pegs, but replaced at some time by ill-fitting guitar tuners.  Now has recycled good quality Grover Sta-Tite friction tuners, with translucent pearl buttons.  Wooden nut and bridge (previously chipped, but now repaired).  Single pin string anchor.  Crack in LB back, now repaired.    Overall length 35”, lower bout 6″, upper bout 4⅞”, depth 1⅝”, FBW 1¼”, VSL 28″ (medium/long scale), weight 1lb 8oz (668g).  No 6½ fret (now provided).

This instrument had been well used and needed extensive refurbishment.  The update has included new 6+ fret; repairs/re-finishing to the back, bridge and nut; and replacement of tuning pegs (as detailed above).  It is a lovely warm colour with many of the typical cherry flecks/shakes intact.  It has a bright tone, with some clarity.  With its easy action and narrow fingerboard, it will be good for fingerpicking and for dulcimer beginners.