Thursday, August 3, 2017

New InTune Hammered Dulcimers. These just stay in tune!

Introducing the new InTune dulcimers!

This is something completely new that nobody has ever attempted.  We have been working on it for a very long time and finally have it figured out.  How to build dulcimers that aren't affected by changes in the humidity or weather.  It works, these just stay in tune, and they sound good.  The above photo is of a Phoebe Chromatic, but we can also build them as a regular Phoebe or either Chickadee or Chickadee Chromatic.   We are going to call it the InTune Option, and it will be $200.00 added to the cost of the dulcimer.  A Phoebe Chromatic Complete Package is $699.00 plus shipping.  The InTune Option added to that would make it $899.00 plus shipping.  Since these will be a custom order, you'll need to contact us, and we can work out the details.

Wood is hygroscopic meaning it wants to absorb or release moisture with changes in humidity of the environment.  So when wood absorbs moisture, it swells.  A hammered dulcimer is a balance of forces in equilibrium.  The strings exert a minimum of 2,500 pounds tension which the body counteracts with an equal pull.  Anything that upsets the equilibrium throws the dulcimer out of tune.  If the body gives up moisture for instance, it loses some of its pull and relaxes just a little which slacks the string tension until the equilibrium is restored at a different tension.  Therefore the only way to build a dulcimer that doesn't go out of tune with weather changes is to exclude all moisture exchange.  Which means you need to put some sort of covering on the wood both inside and out that won't let any air come in contact with the wood.

After trying many kinds of finish we finally found a high tech film that is thin enough it won't affect the tone while still being air tight.  Every surface of these dulcimers inside and out is covered with it.  It takes an inordinate amount of time to do it and is tricky, but worth the effort.  The bridges are solid synthetic, so impervious to everything, side rods are covered in the same film.  No wood is exposed to air.

These are the most stable dulcimers ever built, but of course nothing is perfect.  You will still need to tune your dulcimer, but you will tune a whole lot less.  The real benefit of these is you can have your dulcimer in tune at your house and take it somewhere else to play where the conditions may be much different and expect it to stay in tune.  No more tuning before every workshop at an outdoor festival, no more struggling with adverse conditions.  Newly strung, these dulcimers take about 2 weeks to fully settle in to all that string tension, after that they just stay in tune and sound good.  Here is a link to a video of one being played.

The film in the above photo is clear gloss which we prefer, it looks great!  But we can also do these in gloss black.   Colors are also possible.  If you want one in a solid color, just let us know.  Any hue is possible, it would be an extra $60.00 upcharge for the custom color.   All the sound holes need to be in the back for sound purposes.  The location of sound holes is less important than the total area of them.  

The Phoebe and Chickadee are of course plywood, but we believe that eventually we should be able to do all solid wood dulcimers this way.  If you have any questions please feel free to call us or email.  My number is 563-571-5296, Melanie's is 563-260-7877.  email is  Web site is

Chris Foss

Friday, February 10, 2017

Rick Thum 16/16 good condition plus case, hammers, tuning wrench $950.00

This is a real good Rick Thum 16/16 from October, 2000.  It is number 92 in Rick's series.  It plays great and holds its tune really well, comes with a very good case, hammers, tuning wrench and some misc. papers  from the original purchase.  It was owned by Vickie Brittain in Wisconsin, and she played it a lot.  I have tried to show all the little nicks which are just normal wear on a well loved instrument.  The name medallion on the upper rail is peel and stick, so should come off fairly easily, but there will be a shadow from it on the cherry wood.  You might get something with your own name made to put in its place.  Vickie passed away 5 years ago, and her son Steve Berg brought it to us to sell for him.  There is no one in the family who is interested in it, so best thing to do with an instrument of this caliber is get it into the hands of someone who appreciates it.  Steve wants $950 for it, but will probably come down.  If you are interested, give us a call.  My number is 563-571-5296.  Melanie's is 563-260- 7877.  Or email us

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Sale extended through July! 16/15 Phoebe Complete Outfit $549.00 with free shipping!
The June sale was very successful, so we decided to extend it through July.  So this offer is for Natural 16/15 Phoebe Complete outfit ordered in the month of July 2017.  The regular price is $599.00 plus $25.00 shipping, so $549.00 total is a $75.00 savings. 

You can get the particulars on all of our models on the web site,

The total is $549.00 for the outfit with free shipping to anywhere in the 48 continental United States.  To take advantage of this deal, you can place your order on our web site, or you can call us with your order and a credit card number.  Or you can call us or email with your order then put a check in the mail, or I can email you a paypal invoice.  Whichever seems best to you.  

The 16/15 Phoebe is of course the best entry level hammered dulcimer made.  Not only does it sound wonderful (clear as a bell is one of the comments we have heard), but it is durable and with legendary tuning stability.  The link above goes to one being demonstrated, so you can clearly hear how it sounds.

The complete outfit includes everything one should need to learn and play the hammered dulcimer; the instrument, case, the stand of your choice (whether to play seated or standing), good double face hammers, T- handle tuning wrench, Chromatic electronic tuner, and Mel Bay's You Can Teach Yourself Hammered Dulcimer book/ online video.  

If you have any questions at all don't hesitate to email or call.   My cell is 563-571-5296, and Melanie's is 563-260-7877.  The email address is

Chris Foss

Monday, February 1, 2016

February 2017 Special! FREE SHIPPING on any Chickadee Complete Package!!

This is our 13/12 Chickadee.  The Chickadee is designed so you can have a really good smaller instrument that will do everything it is supposed to reliably, sound good as well, but not need a second mortgage to afford.  The above link is of it in action so you can clearly hear how it sounds and see it played.  It is durable enough that it should last into the next century, and small and light enough to easily carry around.  I took one to our local old time fiddle tunes jam which is loud, and it held its own very well. I am the leader, so need to be heard, and it was no problem.  The beautiful clear sound carried well in the tough environment.  I didn't feel restricted by it in any way, and could play every tune we do. Good dulcimer.

The free shipping applies to anywhere in the 48 contiguous United States, and to either of our Chickadee models; 13/12 Chickadee or 14/13/8 Chickadee Chromatic.  Also free shipping only applies to complete outfits.  Anywhere outside the 48 states, we will take $39.00 off the shipping

You can get the particulars on all of our models on our web site,

Several ways to take advantage of this sale:
You can email us your order, or call, then put a check in the mail to us. Our address is:
Songbird Dulcimers
803 Whicher St.
Muscatine, IA 52761
Or you can call us on the phone with your order and a credit card number,
Or you can email us your order and I can email you a Paypal invoice,
Or you can go ahead and make the purchase on the web site.  The web site will charge you the full price plus shipping and I will then issue you a rebate for the February Special savings.

Specifications: Laminated Birch top and back, Cherry top and bottom rails, Hard Maple pin blocks and Walnut bridges.  It is 38 inches long, 15 3/4 inches wide, and will weigh about 12 pounds.

The Chickadee and one of our scissor stands fit perfectly in the case for our larger dulcimers with a 1" pad to separate them.  So the complete package is the dulcimer, the large case, stand of your choice, double face hammers,  tuning wrench, chromatic electronic tuner, and Mel Bay's You Can Teach Yourself Hammered Dulcimer book/ online video.

If you have any questions at all, please call.  My cell is 563-571-5296, and Melanie's is 563-260-7877.  Our email address is 

Thanks!  Chris Foss