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New Ron Ewing Dulcimers

Ohio master craftsman Ron Ewing has been building superb and distinctive instruments for over 40 years.  He was the first to develop a professional quality dulcimer capo 30 years ago which is still regarded as the gold standard.  He is also credited with developing the earliest – and still arguably the best – higher register dulcimers.  His dulcimettes (tuned an octave above the normal dulcimer, usually DAD) and baritone dulcimettes (tuned an octave above the baritone dulcimer, usually AEA) are justly famous.

As a shy youngster growing up in Ohio during the late 60s, Ron was first captivated by the dulcimer playing of Richard Farina.  Looking to understand how to make a dulcimer for himself, he came across retired engineer, dulcimer builder and player Chet Hines.  He pestered Chet into letting him help with the dulcimer building then, as Chet’s arthritis grew worse, he took over the building side completely and made around 200 dulcimers under Hines’ label.  Developing into an accomplished player of traditional music, he moved in 1975 to the musical commune in Connecticut which was the home of Sandy and Caroline Paton and their Folk Legacy Records.  They encouraged him to make more of his own instruments (see 2.45 1977 dulcimer elsewhere on the Intermediate/Advanced Dulcimers page) and to improve his business skills.  He also found his dulcimers being sold at fairs alongside those of famous N Carolina father and son makers, Leonard and Clifford Glenn.  At this time, his adventurous chordal playing led him to make his first dulcimettes and capos, and experiment with 1½ and ½ frets (of which he remains an important advocate).

His dulcimers are known for their clear, open sound, their superb workmanship, their combination of woods with different sound characteristics, and their distinctive sweeping shapes with elegant, angular soundholes and headstocks.

4.17  2017 Custom Order 4 String Teardrop #D973    £625 including padded soft case.

Printed label “Dulcimers/ by Ron Ewing/ D973  3/3/17 [h/w]/ 224 East Maynard/ Columbus, OH 43202/ [tel. no. & website address]”.

Beautiful rippled brown lacewood top, walnut bookmatched body with centre white wood purfling strip, walnut head and walnut fingerboard with ebony overlay.  Markers at frets 3, 7, 10, 14.  Additional 1+ and 8+ frets.  Ebony “nut”, zero fret and ebony compensated bridge.

Overall length 35½”, LB 8”, depth 2⅛”, FBW 1⅝”, VSL 27¾” (medium), weight 2lb 2 oz (961g).  6+ and 13+ frets.  Original strings 12/12, 16, 24w.

Open, clear sound with Ron’s typical note separation and responsiveness.  A very fast, smooth action on the perfectly prepared ebony fingerboard.  I’ve enjoyed playing this dulcimer this Summer in a number of settings – indeed I ordered it to my specification and was very tempted to keep it for myself!

SOLD  4.15  2015 4 String Aorell  #D 940   £Sold inc padded soft case: 

Printed label “Dulcimers/ by Ron Ewing/ D940  7/14/15 [h/w]/ 224 East Maynard/ Columbus, OH 43202/ [tel. no. & website address]”.  Walnut sides with walnut-stained single piece mahogany back and spruce top.  “Trailing heart” soundhole design.  Walnut “S-Head” style headstock with chrome Gotohs and walnut fingerboard.  Ebony nut and fully compensating ebony bridge.  Brass dot markers at frets 3, 7, 10, 14 with extra frets at 6+ and 13+.  Chrome strap buttons at each end.  Overall length 34¼”, upper bout/lower bout in continuous curve but roughly 5½” and 8” respectively at their widest, depth 2⅛”, FBW 1⅝”, VSL 26¼” (short/medium), weight 2lb 0oz (926g).  6+ and 13+ frets.  Original strings 12/12, 16, 26w.

Has a full, rounded tone with clear separation of notes and good responsiveness.  The spruce top makes it slightly louder but not more raw.  Plays beautifully, with real style.

SOLD  4.16  2015 4 String Teardrop  #D 939:  Printed label “Dulcimers/ by Ron Ewing/ D939  7/8/15 [h/w]/ 224 East Maynard/ Columbus, OH 43202/ [tel. no. & website address]”.  Walnut sides with single piece mahogany back and very fine-grained western red cedar top.  “Crescent” soundhole design with walnut “S-Head” style headstock, chrome Gotoh tuners and walnut fingerboard.  Ebony nut and fully compensating ebony bridge.  Copper pin string anchors which will accept loop or ball end strings.  Chrome strap buttons at each end.  Overall length 35½”, 7⅞”, depth 2⅛”, FBW 1⅝”, VSL 27¾” (medium), weight 2lb 0oz (909g).  6+ and 13+ frets.  Original strings 12/12, 16, 24w.

This is unshowy but beautifully made, with a full, rounded tone, clear separation of notes and good responsiveness.  Plenty of presence but not brittle-sounding.  Superb intonation and good action.  Plays beautifully, with real style.  See pictures 6-8 below.

SOLD  4.05  2014 Aorell 4 string #D 911.  Printed label:  “Dulcimers/ by Ron Ewing/ 224 East Maynard/ Columbus, OH 43202/ [tel. no. & website address]/ [HW] D 911  6/9/14”.   Model AA4:  aorell with A-head and 4 strings.  The aorell – half hourglass and half teardrop (Warren May calls it an hourdrop) – is Ron’s favoured body shape, in terms both of aesthetics and sound.  This has a red cedar top, walnut sides and mahogany, single piece (non-bookmatched) back.  Soundholes are elegant “Trailing Diamonds”, carefully braced inside to reduce the likelihood of cracking.  Single piece walnut fingerboard with small brass inlaid markers at frets 3, 7, 10 & 14.  6+ fret and 13+ frets.  Ebony bridge, compensated for accurate intonation in DAD tuning, and ebony guide nut with zero fret.  String anchors are simple copper pins, to accommodate both loop and ball end strings.  Good quality gold Gotoh guitar-style tuners on flat “A-head”; gold strap buttons on each end.

Overall length 34¾”, upper bout/lower bout in continuous curve but roughly 5¾” and 7¾ respectively at their widest, depth 2⅛”, FBW 1½”, VSL 27¾” (medium/long), weight 2lb 2oz (970g).  6+ and 13+ frets.  Original strings 12/12, 16, 25w.

SOLD 4.04 2014 Teardrop 4 String #D 920. Printed label:  “Dulcimers/ by Ron Ewing/ 224 East Maynard/ Columbus, OH 43202/ [tel. no. & website address]/ [HW] D 920  11/5/14”.  Again, explores the potential of mixing woods with different sound characteristics.  The fine grained cedar top usually makes for a warmer sound, as do the walnut sides, to balance the generally brighter mahogany of the single piece back.  Unusual internal bracing on this large, teardrop body.  Walnut single piece fingerboard with brass markers at frets 3, 7, 10 and 14.  Compensated ebony bridge and guide nut with zero fret, as above.  Gold Gotohs on flat “S-Head” (flame shaped), gold strap buttons and “Crescent” sweeping soundholes.

Overall length 34½”, upper bout n/a, lower bout 8”, depth 2⅛”, FBW 1⅝”, VSL 26¼” (short/medium), weight 2lb 1oz (950g).  6+ and 13+ frets.  Original strings 12/12, 16, 24w.

Both of these dulcimer show excellent craftsmanship, with real flair in design.  They have a good, full sound and a balanced tone, with a certain crispness which provides good note separation.  Intonation with the zero fret and compensated bridge is spot on.  Frets are well finished.