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Mini Mountain Dulcimer

Mountain Dulcimer Kit

Follow these instructions to make a two string Appalachian mountain dulcimer.

Materials
3 triangular tubes - 18" x 4"
1 board - 1" X 1/2" x 20"
coffee stirrers
2 guitar strings - #11
2 small nails
1 wooden dowel - 3" x 1/8"
2 small eye screws
2 small nails
1 template for marking frets 
sandpaper
masking tape
* white glue
* paint or markers to decorate the dulcimer
* pliers and wire cutters
* hammer
* utility knife

* not included in kit
 

Mountain Dulcimer Kit Instructions

1) Apply a thin even layer of glue to all of the tabs on the triangular tubes. Fold up each of the boxes with the end tabs on the inside. Use a small piece of tape to hold each box closed.

2) Glue the three boxes together using a thin even layer on the surfaces being glued. Use masking tape to hold it together tightly while drying. The tape will be left on. (For a nice looking dulcimer, turn all the boxes so that the raw edges come together at the bottom.)

3) Sand the board. Wipe off the sawdust before proceeding to the next step.

4) Tape the template onto the board and then place a mark on the board corresponding to each of the marks on the template. After making the marks, remove the template. If the board is not flat, mark the bottom of the crown.

5) If you don't have a template, mark the fretboard at the following inches from the nut: 1-3/4, 3-5/8, 4-9/16, 6-5/16, 7-1/2, 8-3/16, 9-1/4, 10-1/4, 11-3/16, 11-3/4 and 18-1/2 to the bridge.

6) Cut the coffee stirrers into fifteen 1" lengths.

Coffee stirrers are used for the frets, nut, and bridge.

7) Glue the coffee stirrers onto the fretboard at the places marked using a thin even layer of glue. Center the fret on the mark to get proper intonation. At the bridge end, glue four coffee stirrers together like a sandwich and glue this onto the mark. Press the frets down snugly against the board and allow to dry. Place something on top of the frets to keep them from curling up as they dry.

8) After the frets are dry, hammer two nails into the bridge end of the fretboard leaving 1/4" to 1/8" of the head of the nail sticking out.
Hammer the two nails into the bridge end.

9) Start the eye screws into the other end of the fretboard. A slight tap with a hammer will aid in getting them started. Give them a few turns, but do not screw them all the way in.

Start the eye screws into the other end of the fretboard.

10) Center the fretboard on the cardboard sound chamber and glue it on using a thin even layer of glue. Place something heavy on top of the fretboard until the glue dries.

Center the fretboard on the dulcimer body.

11) Put the guitar strings on as follows:
a) Place a small piece of masking tape around the eye of each screw.
b) Make a loop in the end on the string by putting the end of the string through the ball end and pulling tight.
c) Place this loop over the nail.
d) Stick the other end of the string through the eye of the screw from front to back.
e) Pull it tight. Wrap it a few times clockwise around the screw and push the end through the eye from front to back.
f) Cut off the end of the string. Tape down the sharp end of the string.
g) Use pliers to tighten the strings. Tune both strings to the same pitch. D seems to be a nice pitch for singing and giving a nice full sound. Be careful not to over tighten the string as this will cause it to break.

12) Optional: Cut out three or four sound holes. Do not make them too big because it will weaken the cardboard. Decorate the cardboard sound chamber using markers, colored tape, paint or colored hot glue.

How to play a mountain dulcimer

Song Sheets

 

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