Hammered Dulcimer Models
Instruments No Longer Supplied
- The Augusta Grande was a great instrument in its day, and has a lovely mellow tone, but now is replaced by the Pico, which is smaller, lighter and has the same range.
- Cimbaloms: I once thought a decent cimbalom could be made lighter than 100 kilos, and made a couple. Having been at the Cimbalom World Congress in Budapest in October 2011, I had a lot of questions answered, including, whether I should build them. The answer for now is, no. The cimbalom in Hungary is no longer hugely popular (telling random people we were there for the Cimbalom Congress would draw the same kind-but-blank looks you'd get here in the US for telling people you played hammered dulcimer) but there are still some excellent makers and they are not sitting still. Some are making lighter instruments with, for example, hollow legs. Some are using the older Bohak scaling of the earlier 20th century, which is shorter than the Grand Piano-influenced scaling of the later 20th century and (to my ears) much sweeter. And some very short-scale, small-range instruments are also being made for students that don't sound great, but do the job. I still have an idea or two about building a cimbalom, but I no longer think that it's possible to make one that sounds right and can be easily picked up.
- Tambour de Béarn: a descendant of the earliest form of the hammered dulcimer, a string drum which could provide two notes. Played with a three-hole one-hand pipe, like a tabor pipe, it seemed like a cute little thing to add to the list. I was able to make something with modest weight, and very low pitch The problem, it turns out, is not the instrument itself, but the strings. The best sounding strings, for good bass response and holding pitch, were wound banjo strings with plastic tubing heat-shrunk over them. But these can suddenly start buzzing, and rather than send off an instrument and get complaining phone calls, building will be suspended until the problem is solved. Army surplus field telephone wire seems promising. Stay tuned.