3.39 1975 Keith Young – 4 String Hourglass – £385
Relatively early dulcimer from this important maker. Keith Young (1929-2012) from Annandale, Virginia was a highly respected dulcimer craftsman who made innovative and unusual instruments throughout a long career. He died in 2012 after a fall in his workshop.
Meticulously handwritten on pasted-in label: “Handcrafted by/ Keith R Young/ Annandale, Virginia/ June 1975 No. 131”.
It is beautifully crafted from rich cherry throughout, with a bookmatched, strikingly figured top, bookmatched back and single piece fingerboard. As with many of Young’s dulcimers, the bridge and tailpiece are designed in one piece and undercut – to isolate them both from the instrument’s soundboard and from the endblock. The string anchors are accordingly on the underside of this cantilevered bridge/tail. Has a broad endblock, contrasting with the narrow tapering headstock and its flat-sided scroll. The pegbox is neatly contoured beneath. Standard rosewood violin pegs with neatly rounded wooden fine tuners in a small gap on the tail behind the bridge. Rosewood (?) nut and bridge.
Overall length 37”, upper bout 5⅝”, lower bout 7¼”, depth 1⅞”, FBW 1⅜”, VSL 28½” (medium/long scale), weight 2lb 2oz (962g). Possible original strings: 12/12, 12, 23w, now 11/11, 15, 23w. Originally no 6+ fret (now added).
This is a most attractive and historic dulcimer. It has many of the features which made Young dulcimer famous and much sought after: it has elegance with a well balanced shape and small heart soundholes; it has the famous undercut tailpiece, which gives added volume and a degree of precision – notes have a shortish decay; it is made from the best of materials with great craftsmanship. It is quite loud, but well balanced and responsive. A beautiful piece of lutherie with a distinctive sound, but it also a practical, very playable instrument in absolutely immaculate condition.