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1997 Walnut Valley “Smoky River” Hourglass  £Sold

#97-067: SR Smoky River 4 String Hourglass. Printed label: “Walnut Valley Dulcimer Co./ 102 E Broadway/ Burns, Kansas 66840/ [tel. no.]/ Model: Smoky River/ Ser. No. SR-97-067 [h/w]/ Crafted by: D Brunner [signed]”.

As SR model below, solid walnut with attractive grain, bookmatched top and back, with white wood centre purfling on back. Grover open geared guitar tuners. Single piece walnut fingerboard – unlike earlier ones, not undercut and with more conventional shortish strum hollow as a result. MoP markers at 3, 7, and 10 fret. Zero fret with hard plastic “nut” and replacement bone, compensated bridge. Suede strip to form string strainer and prevent damage to the tail/fingerboard end; similar strip, originally fitted to protect the finish on the pegbox side of the zero fret, is less successful because it interferes with the string run.

Overall length 35¼”, upper bout 6⅛”, lower bout 7⅝”, depth 2”, FBW 1⅝”, VSL 26⅝” (medium scale), weight 2lb 7oz (1105g), strings now 11/11, 14, 23w. 6+, no 13+ fret.

Very neatly finished and solidly constructed with an impressive, open sound and perhaps a little less brashness than the earlier arched fingerboard SRs.

Click on images below to enlarge (NB pictures taken during final preparation, hence lack of strings!)

Walnut Valley Dulcimer Company:  “Smoky River” 4 String Hourglass

The owner and co-builder of the Walnut Valley Dulcimer Company was Jack Brunner, who had a booth at the Disney theme park, Orlando in the early 90s.  When he stopped selling at the park, he joked that “the mouse made all the money, not him”!  In 1994, this top-of-the-range model cost $289 – not cheap for the time.

1991 Walnut Valley 4 String Hourglass  £Sold

It has a scroll headstock with inset wooden ball, leaf designs on upper and lower bouts, with a hummingbird soundhole.  The tuners are good quality Grover chrome friction pegs with plastic pearl buttons – which hold well, but could be replaced (at extra cost) with geared tuners.  Bookmatched walnut top and back, latter with a contrasting purfling strip in the middle.  The fingerboard has several unusual features, being undercut for most of its length (cantilevered) and therefore having a chamfered length in place of the traditional strum hollow.  It has a zero fret, hard plastic “nut” and bridge (latter now replaced with bone, fully compensated bridge), and MOP markers at frets 3, 7 and 10.  The endblock has a suede strip to protect it and dampen any unwanted ringing of the strings.  Three ebony guitar-style “bridge pins” anchor the strings and allow use of either ball or loop end strings.  Overall length 35½”, upper bout 6⅛”, lower bout 7½”, depth 2”, FBW 1½”, VSL 26½” (medium scale), weight 2lb 6oz (1065g).

This is a well-made instrument with a bright, forward sound and good intonation.  A few shallow marks on the back, otherwise very good condition.  Recommended for players of all abilities from beginner to the more advanced. 


Click on the thumbnails at the bottom to enlarge each photo:

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