Appalachian Naturalist Musical Instruments

My own personal dulcimer. Cherry top, Black Walnut back, sides, peghead and fingerboard. "Traditional" (baling wire) frets. Oiled finish, no stain. This is an example of a traditional styled dulcimer. It has no frills, no "extra" fret (6 1/2), and is meant for traditional style playing. Most I make are with standard fret wire, and I still refuse to add an "extra" fret. All Cherry wood is the best price. Prices are calculated on the price of the wood and my investment in time and are subject to change with the price of materials. (That's why I quote no prices here.)

    So, you're curious about what is a Luthier, huh? Well. it is not quite like a Naturalist. Simply, it is a person who makes musical instruments, and I have been known to build Mountain Dulcimers, an instrument I call a Beggar's Fiddle, which is tear-drop shaped, and Zithers, an instrument similar to an Autoharp, but without the keys.
    Mountain Dulcimers are endemic to the Southern Appalachian Mountains, and are very different from the Hammered Dulcimer. Called Hog Fiddle and Scattlin', they are a fiddle shaped or oblong shaped box with three or four strings, with frets that are oddly spaced to give a diatonic scale, rather than the chromatic fretting of a guitar. They are traditionally played by fretting only the first string or pair of strings, and allowing the other two to act as "drones", producing a sound remarkably like Scottish Bagpipes. Some folks play in a "progressive" style, fretting all of the strings, producing chords as on a guitar or banjo, and changing the sound. I do not play in this manner.
    Over the years I have built several Dulcimers. I build a basic hand made design that is usually teardrop shaped with four strings, the first two paired to give a larger sound. They are made in the old way; no excessive ornamentation, and any tricks I can use to get better sound. They are built to play, not to hang on the wall. I do not build "wall" dulcimers! I do use power tools in the building; I couldn't afford to use only hand tools. If you are interested, e-mail me at

    My teardrop fiddle is a design I picked up from a book. I build it with cherry wood back and sides, and a red cedar top for good sound. I use a standard finger board, and a standard tailpiece. All else is made by me.

    The Zithers I build are a basic Psaltery type that are plucked, usually with the fingers, giving a sweet harp like sound. They are shaped like a rectangle with one side longer. They are made out of a variety of woods, and I have been known to make them out of plywood! Still gives a great sound, and is cheaper than thin cut wood.

    So that's pretty much a luthier. I am in no way a professional luthier, just a person who is good with his hands, and enjoys working with them.

     All my instruments are priced affordably, and sound good. Prices can vary widely with the wood used, and availability of the wood. I will need at least 3 months to make one, and half the price up front.

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