Winter 2001

New Dulcimer Preview


This is the dulcimer Jerry Read Smith is building for me! The rosettes, corner scrolls, and bridges are just lying on top to show what the finished instrument will look like.

When I decided I wanted something larger, more chromatic, and more rich in tone than my first dulcimer, Jerry Read Smith and Dusty Strings were my top choices. My teacher Tim played a Dusty Strings D-600, and Williamsburg Gathering co-organizer Anne Robinson played one of Jerry’s, so the three of us got together to let me compare them side-by-side. I’d also been asking Jerry lots of questions by email, which he patiently answered. It was a tough choice, but though the D-600 is boomier in the bass range and has dampers available, Jerry’s is prettier, has a greater range, uses closer string spacing, and offers twin extra bass bridges allowing the player to reach those notes with either hand.

newrosette newscroll

At the end of November, I drove down to the Song of the Wood workshop to place my order. As we chatted downstairs about what I was looking for, Jerry realized he might have just the thing upstairs: a finished body, ready for soundhole rosettes, corner scrolls, bridges, pins, and stringing. How wonderful — that would cut the waiting time in half! Of course I said I’d take it. Meanwhile, I asked him to make custom rosettes for me, using his standard outer ring and my own design inside (see the Rosette page for more details). For those interested in woods, the body has a mahogany top and bottom, maple pin blocks, and walnut rails. The corner scrolls are laminated bubinga and purpleheart. The rosettes are bubinga on the inside, ebony on the outside, and paduak in between. The bridges are ebony with maple and purpleheart markers.

The WoodSong duo performs for a holiday reception

Tom Abernethy and I had the opportunity to play for a hospital’s holiday staff reception at the Kingsmill Resort in Williamsburg, December 1. Tom brought his harp, guitar, and dulcimer, and I had my dulcimer and my newest instrument, a recorder. “Silent Night” on recorder and guitar is lovely, especially with the intriguing chords Tom does.

kingsmill2 woodsongduo2