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2.05   “Keister” – 4 String Hourglass – Now reduced to £245

Unknown maker, but purchased in North Carolina by Don Keister.

Unusual large, hand-carved, open scroll headstock with elegant, tapering shallow peg box and replacement gold banjo geared tuners.  Smallish heart-shaped soundholes (pointing to tail), inlay down middle of non-bookmatched back.  Walnut peghead, back and sides with spruce (?) top.  Softwood fingerboard with nicely figured walnut overlay and brass frets.  Right hand end of fingerboard, from strum hollow to end pins, is undercut – i.e. cantilevered over the soundboard/top (as were also Wiggins and Keith Young dulcimers from a similar era).  Strings are anchored on brass pins attached to the end of the (detached) fingerboard.  Woodworking is generally excellent but the original finish was applied unevenly.

Overall length 34½”, upper bout 5½”, lower bout 7¼”, FBW 1¼”, VSL 25⅞” (short/medium scale) with zero fret, weight 2lb 8oz (1146g).  Deeper than average body at 2⅜”.  Originally with standard violin/viola ebony tuners, now sporting superb gold geared banjo tuners with real ebony buttons.  6½ fret now provided.

Light construction, deepish body and cantilevered bridge/saddle result in a warm, attractive and balanced tone, with a good bass, but with a little less sustain than usual and a shortish decay (very like the Keith Young dulcimers of a similar era).  Not over-loud and does not respond particularly well to playing hard, but much better for finger-picking and plectrum players with a light touch.  Such players will be rewarded with excellent intonation and good response, even into the higher frets.  This was one of my personal instruments for several years and I hold it in great affection.  It was always out on the table inviting me to play – and playing it was always rewarding.


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