And a Homer?

So inspiration hits and what are you to do? After playing some Homer Ledford’s a few weeks ago, I felt inspired enough to try one myself. I was reading his book at that time as well, and the impulse was over whelming. I had some 4/4 cherry I found at the peddlers mall a couple weeks ago for four dollars, and a piece of ten year old spalted cotton wood, so away I go!
Homer uses a fiddle side on his dulcimers. I’ve never made one like this before. Seeing the difficulty in the process, I’ve never even considered it. The old time Kentucky makers used this method sighting the need for expansion and contraction in the sides. A lot of wood joinery used any possible method to lessen the stress on the joints. Homes were not conditioned and the moister and heat fluctuations wreaked havoc on wood pieces. I understand why they did it; I just don’t understand the technique. The top and bottom of the dulcimer is glued solid to the peg head and the tail piece. The sides are glued to the top and bottom and left to float in the grooves of the peg head and tail piece. What expansion and contraction you do get loosen the joint even more! That is why so many of this type of dulcimers needed repair. If you glue the sides solid to the peg head and tail piece, the “unit” has less movement over all, and holds together better.
The fiddle sides are very attractive; I may look into incorporating it in my designs as a deluxe model. The lacquer is very nice as well. I didn’t consider it at first, I thought the material was modern, but it turns out lacquer is quite old. I just have to get past the smell, and working very quickly outside. What time you save coating the dulcimore quickly verses’ waiting on oil is burnt up in the rubbing out! Homer’s design also places the nut and bridge at the very end of the sound box. I can tell the difference in the tone, and am interested to see if the string anchor has anything to do with it. I’ve noticed that there are makers who break the string across another fret behind the bridge. I’m wondering if it has to do with a cleaner sound.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAll in all I’m very pleased with how it turned out. There are several minor problems, but nothing I can’t live with! The glue must be cleaned off before the lacquer is brushed on! The oil must be applied to the fret board before lacquer! It was a great learning experience I really enjoyed, and I have myself a Homer knock off.

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