Three years on, the Super Elite dulcimer

So, three years after building the super elite dulcimer it’s still in good shape.

It stays in tune with itself, generally heat and humidity will make it go flat and sharp according to your tuning meter. Anyone who says they have made a dulcimer that stays in concert pitch and can be moved about or lives in a changeable climate like the UK is having a laugh or has found a way of changing the laws of physics and making wood and steel have the same coefficient of linear expansion! In layman terms, the frame expands and contracts more than the strings, so the strings length and thickness will remain in proportion but the frame will not. So although it will, mostly, stay in tune with itself, it won’t stay in concert pitch.  Pianos stay in tune because you have steel strings on a steel frame so they both expand and contact in proportion with each other.

The base has a curve in it, it’s the same as the day i strung the dulcimer, so I am not worried about it. I have experimented with putting rods in the struts to make them stiffer and have come to the conclusion that if you are worried about the stiffness of the dulcimer frame, use ash as it is much stiffer for its weight than any other wood.  The depth of the rail has a larger impact than its thickness, so a deeper dulcimer frame will give a more stable frame it terms of the amount of wood used.

One of my reasons for wanting to build my own dulcimer was to explore how far  can push the boundaries of size and weight but get a nice sounding instrument.  I see people with sack trucks moving their dulcimer about and I do not want that.  I want a light, small, playable instrument.   The Super Elite weighs in at 8kg and its stand at just under 2kg.  I would like to save another 2 kg if I can.


So it’s back to the drawing board to see how much I can shave off the frame and the bridges.  Also i am using 9mm plywood throughout, maybe some 6mm will mean the steel rod supporting the bridge can be lighter, does the back really need to be 9mm ply?  Well,maybe it does for stiffness but


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