Only $40.00 away from free shipping
Only $495.00 away from free shipping

Create a Folkcraft account for free rewards! Click HERE

Padauk Dust

March 31, 2023

Good Morning, Y'all!

Last week I added a fret to a dulcimer which was set up originally as a DAA-tuned instrument. An instrument without the "extra" frets like 6.5 or 1.5. The new owner was a modern-style performer, and really liked the instrument, but wanted to upgrade to DAD tuning with all of the extra (6.5 and 1.5) frets installed.
I had built this instrument with position dots exactly halfway between frets 6 and 7, so adding the 6.5 fret put a fret right on top of the dots. Not a problem, except that the dots split apart when cutting the new fret slot. So, I filled the dot holes (where the pearl dots "used" to be) with a mixture of cyanoacrylate glue (aka "superglue") and wood dust.
Since the fretboard veneer on this dulcimer was padauk, I took a scrap piece of padauk to the shop, used a sander and made about a quarter cup of padauk wood dust.

padauk dust in a baggie

Of course, I saved the extra dust, and put it on the shelf with my other little bags of dust -  walnut, maple, ebony, and cherry.
In a year or two, the padauk dust will be mostly brown, but if I need orange dust while this is still brightly-colored, I'll be all set! Worst case, I'll have to go sand another fresh piece of padauk for filling an orange-colored hole.
While filling the hole, I was thinking about how much the dulcimer world has changed, instrument-wise, since I entered the dulcimer community in 2007. We've gone from the 6.5 fret becoming standard (to a LOT of "add the 6.5 fret to my dulcimer please!") to the 1.5 fret becoming standard. We're happy to make whatever a customer asks for, but all of our stock instruments (built for me to take to festivals, display in the showroom, post on the website, etc.) are getting the 1.5 and 6.5 frets these days.
But here's the latest trend - over the past few months, about a third of our new instrument buyers have asked for the 0.5 fret - the D sharp on the outside strings, and the A sharp on the middle string. People are easing into this, just like they did with the 6.5 and 1.5 frets. So far, they're not asking for the 7.5 and 14.5 frets, but I predict it is only a matter of time. (and I wholeheartedly suggest having all of the higher octaves in a dulcimer match the lower octave - no reason in my mind to get the 6.5 without the 13.5, or the 1.5 without the 8.5, or the 0.5 without the 7.5...)

Guitar builders? Must be bored silly. Their fretboards haven't changed in centuries. Dulcimer fretboards seem to change every few years!
We play the coolest instrument, y'all!

Thanks for reading - have a great weekend!

Richard Ash, luthier-who's-installed-more-single-frets-than-you-can-shake-a-stick-at