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Doyn Lammers Hourglass Dulcimers

Handmade by Doyn Lammers, Hot Springs, Arkansas.  Rare instruments from a low volume maker.  Born 1921 (94 years old!), Doyn is apparently still alive, though no longer making instruments since he broke his hip.  His dulcimers used to sell at between $400 and $500.

2.86  1990s?   £235 no case  

Printed label: “Handcrafted Mountain Dulcimers and Banjos/  Quality Hand-made Instruments/ And Dulcimer Kits created in/ Historic Hot Springs, Arkansas/ by/ Doyn Lammers/ Hot Springs AR 71913/ 111 Wildwood Ave [crossed out] 111 Woodberry [h/w]”.  No date, but hardware and general feel suggest 1990s.  Seller thinks might be 1988 – it was his mother’s.

Beautifully coloured solid curly red cherry, particularly attractive on the back, where it is bookmatched and has dark (walnut?) purfling centre line.  Pegbox and scroll continue with central strip, scroll being routed out.  Grover sta-tite friction tuners with plastic pearl buttons.  The solid cherry fingerboard is quite deeply undercut at the side along its length; Doyn Lammers’ signature burnt into fingerboard between zero fret and fret 1; 6+ but no 13+ frets; star shape deeply incised into fingerboard between strum hollow and bridge; darker wood markers on frets 3, 5, 7, 10, 13.  Two (only) mushroom-headed pins as string anchors.  Lammers’ trade mark dogwood (?) soundholes, each made from 4 small heart shapes.  Quite shallow sides given the size of body generally.  Overall length 35½[36]”, upper bout 6¼ [5¾]”, lower bout 7 [7]”, depth 1¾”, FBW 1⅝”, VSL 28½ [28½]” (medium/long scale), weight 2lb 4oz (1021g).  6½ fret.  Current strings 11/[11], 15, 25w….the bass is probably a little too dominant with this setup and it would benefit from a lighter set overall.

Surprisingly lively, given that the earlier one (made of thick wood) was sweet but quiet.  Cherry makes it bright and, with slightly higher than average action, is reasonably loud.  Intonation pretty good on all strings and responds well into the second octave.  A most attractive instrument.

1980s?   £Sold

All maple construction with nicely figured top and fingerboard.  Unusual and attractive cluster of hearts soundhole design.  Solidly built.  Originally with zero fret but now ebony conventional nut for improved action/intonation.  Overall length 36”, lower bout 7″, upper bout 5¾”, VSL 28½” (long scale).  Non-geared banjo tuners.  6½ fret.

Pleasant, light sound with some finesse, but not loud.  Easy action.  An attractive, traditional-sounding mountain dulcimer.