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

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