Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Busy, busy, busy!

I can't believe the amount of work I have right now! Not only do I have a number of restorations and repairs to do, I have to make at least four more new dulcimers to replace those that sold late this year.

A few days ago I finished a commission. A fellow wanted an epinette des Vosges, which is the French ancestor to the Mountain dulcimer, that dates back to the 1700s. I call it "Frere Jacques." This version is based on instruments from around 1850 to the present. I made it from some beautiful figured maple with black walnut and ebony accents. It has an 18" scale and a very lovely tone. The other day I was listening to a French CD of epinette folk music, and the sounds of the instruments are very similar to this one.

Earlier this year I made a much smaller epinette based on an 1850 instrument that I saw on the Boston Museum of Fine Arts web site. I'm also working on a larger epinette, with around a 24" scale, with a double-headed medieval-style carving. I should have it done by the end of the year.

Today I finished a very interesting repair. A friend stopped by during our Fall neighborhood garage sale and asked if I could take a look at one of his old Weissenborn guitar copies. In their day, these were very inexpensive instruments being sold to cash in on the Hawaiian craze of the 1920s and 1930s--like the ukulele. He brought two of them by and told me to go ahead and make one of them playable. That I did. They were both in very bad shape, very scratched up, gouged up, and a little weathered, but they were both easily fixed. The one I finished today even has a label in it with three Hawaiian-looking figures playing instruments around an old radio microphone, with "Hawaii" on top and "$35" printed on the bottom. The fingerboard was a thin piece of wood with a paper fretboard glued on top of it. I made a real fingerboard for it, sanded most of the scratches and gouges out, re-stained it, put mechanical tuning gears on it, and had a lot of fun playing it.

More work: Besides all the above, I'm starting to work on a reproduction of the Pennsylvania German Scheitholt I restored a few months ago, another banjo-dulcimer, and a lot of dulcimer noters. Whew! The year seemed to drag for quite a while, and now it seems there's not enough hours in the day to do everything I want to do. I really need, like the Beatles song, eight days a week.

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