Now Making Our Very Own Hammered Dulcimer Cases

February 18, 2022

Roger Frood hammered dulcimer

By Nicolette Foss

The pandemic hit everyone hard. Here at Songbird Dulcimers, the supply chain debacle caused us to run out of the cases we’ve been importing for about 20 years. We scrambled to find American companies that could undertake such a project, but as you can imagine, everyone was swamped. In the meantime, we slapped together some makeshift hammered dulcimer hard cases to get us through. We were sweating.

But with every hardship, there is always a silver lining. We decided to take matters into our own hands.. So, we are now presenting our new, quality hammered dulcimer cases made right here in the USA! And we are blessed to have the whole operation running here under the Songbird roof!

The Process

Heavy duty cylinder bed sewing machine with binding attachment for our new hammered dulcimer cases

We have some sewing experience. Melanie has been a lifetime home sewer, learning from scads of books and programs like Sewing with Nancy on PBS. She has produced the likes of everything from quilts to clothes to Christmas stockings to shopping bags; anything that can be sewn. Additionally, Chris had experimented with making Songbird cases 20 years back, which gave him an idea of what was needed in the manufacturing process.

Fabric set up for hammered dulcimer case manufacturing

After deciding to take matters into our own hands, we rented a space for the case manufacturing, bought some commercial machines for heavy fabric, and found the right fabrics and material suppliers. Then we went to it. After Chris fiddled with the new machines and Melanie got the hang of them, Melanie masterminded our new hammered dulcimer case designs that are unlike any other cases in the industry.

We are so proud of the amazing feat Melanie has pulled off. The learning curve was steep! Commercial heavy-duty sewing, though related, is nothing like home sewing. Yet she has managed to create an innovative design with unfamiliar materials on a professional level, and this is really something to be proud of! Hats off to her.  

 

Our Very Own Hammered Dulcimer Cases

Check out this video of Chris demonstrating our new hammered dulcimer case:  

How to use the new Songbird Dulcimers Case │Songbird Dulcimers

Features of the our new hammered dulcimer cases: 

  • Durable: Due to Melanie’s innovative design, the foam inside completely envelopes every surface of your dulcimer. Most cases out there are made of panels sewn together, leaving edges vulnerable to bumps and nicks. Made of tough ballistic nylon, this heavy-duty material is water resistant and easy to clean. Simply wipe it with a wet washcloth or even throw it in the wash. No fuss. 
  • Zipperless: Nothing makes a case more useless than a zipper that breaks down, so we decided to go zipperless. This ensures that your Songbird hammered dulcimer case can last you a lifetime.
  • Ample pocket storage: There are three lined pockets on the front of the case, two smaller ones and one larger pocket. This gives you plenty of room for music sheets, tuning wrench, and hammers
  • Two sizes: One for the smaller dulcimers (Chickadee and Sparrow models), and a larger case for the bigger dulcimers (Phoebe, Festival, and Finch models). Got dampers? No worries, it’ll fit!
  • A place for your stand: No need to load up your hammered dulcimer stand in the other hand. Simply lay the folded stand gently on top of the case between the handles and you’re good to go! 

    Large hammered dulcimer case with stand

Keep in mind that designs are never final.  With every batch we make, we learn and incorporate what we learn. We want to hear what you think. Join in on the evolution of this product and comment on what you prefer! Some possible additional options include: 

  • Velcro straps on the top flap to secure the stand
  • D-rings to clip on your own shoulder strap

No More Imports

Our long-lost imported cases we ordered back in June 2021 are probably buried somewhere in a shipping container who-knows-where. But we are now fully committed to making our own cases regardless of what happens. Whenever (and if) we finally receive these imported cases, we will still offer them for sale, but this will be the last time, and the cases that we supply with the Complete Packages will be the ones that we make here. We won’t depend on imports again.

Unfortunately, we cannot produce custom cases. If someone needs a custom case, we recommend Helen Pilling of Coon Hollow Canvas. She does a great job! 

If our existing designs work for your dulcimer, we will gladly sell you one directly, but we are unable to supply them to other builders. As far as we know, we are the only builder making our own cases! 

Why Buy American Made?

Being able to say “Made in the USA” is something we are very proud of. Here are some benefits of buying American-made:

  • Supports local economy: Having our cases made right here at home means the money will go toward our local, regional and national economy, and lead to a more prosperous future for all of us. 
  • Creates American jobs: We have now created one new full time job, and one part time job! Melanie feels fulfilled and is glad to dedicate her time and knowledge to something worthwhile. She and her friend Diane make a great team.
  • Ensures a standard of quality: American manufacturers are highly regulated by state and federal governments. This means quality control measures are taken to comply with manufacturing standards. As a result, these kinds of products often last longer.
  • Good for the planet: Manufacturing our goods here at home means less travel, and therefore less emissions. 
    Melanie and Diane

    Melanie and Diane Merritt after producing an early prototype

Although it isn’t always the cheapest way to go, we have more peace of mind when our products are American Made, and that is absolutely priceless. 

These hammered dulcimer cases are our newest labor of love. Bring your new Songbird hammered dulcimer case along with you to your next jam session or festival, knowing your instrument is safe and protected. Order one here! We hope you love the case as much as we love making them! Let us know what you think in the comments below.

About the author: In her childhood, Nicolette Foss could be found underneath piles of sawdust in her father’s hammered dulcimer workshop. She helped with odds and ends in the business, attended folk music festivals, and learned the importance of hard work. These days,  you can find her belly dancing to instrumental Arabic music, learning the Serbian language, making short films with friends, and cuddling her cat Georgie. If you’d like to hire Nicolette for content writing or copywriting work, contact her at: nicolettelady@protonmail.com

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3 Comments

  • Scott B Clark says:

    Happy to see you guys doing this.

  • Ron Jordan says:

    Great job, excellent design, superbly written article. I hope this is a great success. See you in July !

  • Dennis Norwood says:

    Thank you Foss family for decades of consistent

    Quality music products that get better each year.

    Your instruments have always been affordable ..,almost

    flawless, beautiful and durable.

    I have owned several and will continue to play and buy ,

    sell and teach them to new players.

    Chris has come a long way since his early beginnings

    in Summersville, Missouri.

    Again thanks…The cases will be worth the

    investment also.

    Denny’s Dulcimers in Springfield , Mo.

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