Launching this blog has given me cause to revisit some of my past projects. The first fretted instrument that I built was a long neck dulcimer. It is tuned and sounds like an Appalachian Dulcimer. But instead of playing it on your lap, you hold it like a guitar or an octave mandolin.
Looking at my pictures of the build process was a real trip down memory lane. Many of the techniques that I used in 2011, I still use today. Others caused me to laugh and say “You’re kidding, I did it like that!
For example, bending sides. Before I heard of a Fox bender or even a bending pipe, I wrapped the side in wet paper towels, cooked it on a hot plate, and wrapped it around a cookie tin. Same process, I guess. Apply heat and wrap around a form.
I didn’t have a lot of clamps yet but I did have a lot of things that were heavy. This is how I glued the back onto the body.
Here is something that hasn’t changed. I still use those clamps sometime when gluing in linings.
Notice also the Spanish Heel. That is a type of neck-body joint in which the sides are inserted into slots in the end of the neck heel. Only recently have I tried that again. Everything else has used a bolt-on neck.
Fretting has changed too. I no longer use a calculator and a ruler to figure out where to cut the frets slots by hand in a miter box. And there are much easier ways to bend to pre-bend frets. But it all worked!