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Weissenborn Style Dulcimer

While I was at the Florida Gulf Coast Dulcimer Retreat last week in Homosassa, Florida, David Marks (founder of Folkcraft, back in 1974) stopped by for a visit. It was great to see him, and talk shop/business/dulcimer with one of the luminaries of folk instrument building. David had worked for quite a while on a Weissenborn-style dulcimer, and has loaned me the first prototype. A lot of folks got to see it at the Florida festival, and the prototype is now safely in Woodburn. This instrument is LOUD, which is typical for the Weissenborn body shape. The way that the dulcimer was braced, though, makes it sound like a dulcimer, not a guitar. This took a lot of engineering, and we're grateful that David is sharing his design with Folkcraft.

weissenborn style dulcimer
Top view

If you look closely, you'll see that the frets are in two different colors. This prototype was built as a fretless dulcimer, and the "frets" you see are actually inlays in the purpleheart fretboard. Light colored inlays for the diatonic frets, darker colored inlays for the "other/chromatic" frets.

Close-up of frets for weissenborn style dulcimer
Close-up of frets

David set up the prototype as a five-string instrument, which could be really cool. Maybe DADAD (standard DAD tuning, with an octave-lower "D" and "A" below. This would allow the bottom three strings (DAD) to be a bass dulcimer, and the top three strings (also DAD) to be a standard dulcimer. The prototype instrument shown was set up to be a "slide" style instrument, but we've already developed our slide resonator, so maybe that's not the way to go with the new dulcimer.

side view weissenborn style dulcimer
Side view

So, what do y'all think? 1) Five-string bass/standard hybrid; 2) Three-string bass (or three-string standard); 3) Something different entirely (you provide the details!). Let us know!

bottom view weissenborn style dulcimer
Bottom view

Richard Ash