Sunday, August 31, 2014

Dulcitar or Stick Dulcimer

I don't play guitar but I love making noisemakers. The process for building cigar box guitar (CBG) type instruments is well known and covered extensively on the web but achieving a highly playable instrument can sometimes take a little practice. This is my third and definitely best, stringed instrument.

The dulcitar is held and strummed like a guitar but like a dulcimer has diatonic frets, 2 melody strings, and 2 drone strings. These are often called Strumsticks*.

Feel free to post about your own instrument builds in the comment section.


Scale: 25"
Tuning: DAdd
Fretboard: 1" wide
Box volume: 140 cubic inches
Sound hole: 1 1/4"


Bering cigar box
Honduran mahogany
Macassar Ebony
Fret wire and tuning heads from CB Gitty
D'Addario dulcimer strings

Neck and headstock are mahogany laminated with ebony. The bone nut in this photo had to be replaced because it didn't allow for spacing the strings. A little heat and the super glue gave way, replacing it took less time than filing string slots in the new nut.
The Bering box is quite plain and I may go back and decorate it. You can see the heel cap made from American holly and a thin layer of walnut. The copper fret markers are hard to see.

Video of my daughter Brenna playing the dulcitar.

Notes and Resources:
*Strumstick® is a registered trademark of McNally Instruments