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2.112 – 1993 Blue Lion IIRS Hourglass #1927 – £Sold inc. soft Blue Heron case

Blue-tinged printed label: “Nov.19, 1993 [h/w]/ Blue Lion /RMB JLB [h/w]/Santa Margarita, California/ Model IIRS Serial No. 1927”.

Indian rosewood sides and bookmatched back with central purfling strip, ditto outer headstock layer, tailpiece and (darker) fingerboard overlay. Handsome, inlaid rose on fingerboard, comprising white MoP petals, green MoP leaves and brass stalk. Honduras mahogany fingerboard and headstock core. Fine-grained cedar top. 6+ and 13+ frets. Chrome Schaller banjo-style machines with pearl buttons. Chrome strap buttons on head and tail. Tail has inset mushroom-headed pins for string anchors and “fret” as strainer. Ebony nut and floating compensated bridge. Gold filigree metal soundholes in the shape of a rose. Custom Blue Heron padded soft case.

Overall length 36½”, upper bout 6⅛”, lower bout 7¼”, depth 2¼”, FBW 1½”, VSL 26¼” (medium scale), weight 2lb 6oz (1068g), strings currently 0.012, 0.016, 0.027w. Original 6+ and 13+ frets.

This came with heavy strings and the sound is quite punchy when pushed – but as clearly articulated as all Blue Lions seem to be. The sound is noticeably harder than the walnut Model II, even with the cedar top, but it responds well to vibrato and can also play more delicately. It’s perhaps the best IIR I’ve played – and two were my main instruments for many years.

2.66   Blue Lion Model IIW Walnut – 4 String Hourglass – £625 inc fitted hard case

#4631 (February 2013):  Inside printed label with handwritten entries:  “FEB 21, 2013/ Blue Lion/ RMB  JLB/ Santa Margarita, California/  Model ‘IIW’  Serial No. 4631”.

Iconic hourglass from Blue Lion Instruments, run by Robert (Bob) and Janita Baker. Janita is a first class player, using varied tunings on a dulcimer strung in four equidistant courses. This dulcimer is currently strung in conventional fashion with four strings in three courses (doubled melody).  The firm started making dulcimers on the west coast in 1977, using guitar stylings and woods rather than the traditional dulcimer materials.  They have a well-deserved reputation for excellence and are the choice of a number of top players, especially those playing finger-style.

Matt finish cedar top, evenly grained, with bookmatched walnut sides and back.  No purfling down centre of back as IIR model.  Honduras mahogany fingerboard with East Indian rosewood overlay/veneer.  Walnut faced sandwich of mahogany forming an elegant scroll and pegbox, with Schaller banjo tuners.  Simple arrangement of holes to form elegant soundholes in UB and LB.  Ebony nut (still set up for LH play) and replacement ebony bridge.  Brass “fret” acts as string strainer over endblock, with simple mushroom-headed pins as string anchors.  Signature MoP/brass rose inlay on fingerboard – blossom in white MoP, leaves in green and stem in brass.  Fitted with 1+, 6+ and 13+ frets and chrome plated strap buttons.  Custom hard case with blue plush interior.

Overall length 36¼”, upper bout 6⅛”, lower bout 7¼”, depth 2¼”, FBW 1½”, VSL 26¼” (medium scale), weight 2lb 3oz (1007g).

Originally made for a left-handed player.  Nut has not been changed and works well without reversal, but bridge has been replaced in the style of the original from a blank provided by Blue Lion themselves.  Spare BL nut blank in pocket of custom hard case.  Elegant design, easy action, very accurate intonation and smooth, well-balanced sound make this a classic dulcimer.