Just imagine… You’re having fun at a festival, outside taking a workshop, and it starts to rain on your expensive Masterworks or Dusty Strings hammered dulcimer. You dash for cover, but your instrument is still wet. Should have had a Songbird Festival dulcimer!
One weekend Melanie was gone, and I was at our local home center when I spied a piece of Formica in the over stock rack. It was kind of a granite look, and I thought , “man that would make a great hammered dulcimer.” So I took it home, and got the dulcimer finished before Melanie came home. It was a great dulcimer. “Look what I made, dear” I said when she got home. She looked for a while, and finally said, “I really like that.” And it sounded good, too.
Later, our friend Maxine Dennison, an expert hammered dulcimer player, was up for a visit. “What is that? It looks like a counter top” she said. “Just try it”, Melanie said. “Wow, it sounds good!” was the reply. Then Melanie gave her the spiel about the rain and Maxine’s Masterworks dulcimer. A couple weeks later Melanie got a call from Maxine. “Guess what? I am at a festival, and it is raining on my Masterworks” She ordered the blue dulcimer pictured here, and thus was born the Songbird Festival Dulcimer.
We build these on a body with Okoume Marine Ply top and back which is very light to offset the added weight of the high pressure laminate surface. So since the ply is marine, and all the glues used to build the dulcimer are water proof, not only is the dulcimer water proof, it is sea worthy! You can take these to the beach, go anywhere you like, nothing will affect them. I left one out in a snow storm one day, just to see. It got about 6 inches before I brought it in, blew the snow off with compressed air, and discovered it was still in tune! The sound holes are all in the back. Folks ask why we don’t put some in the top. “So the rain doesn’t go in” is our reply.
As you can imagine, the decorative possibilities are endless. If you are interested, go to the Wilsonart web site, pick out a laminate you like, and call me with the number. I’ll order it, and build you a beauty you won’t be afraid to take anywhere. The High Definition laminates are particularly nice, they have a texture.
January 2018. A customer in England ordered one in matte black with Maple bridges and dampers. It turned out to look sleek, modern and elegant and sounded wonderful. We both loved it, so that is going to be our default Festival dulcimer. We’ll recommend it to anyone interested unless they just want something different. It is Wilsonart Black 1595. We are going to try to keep some of it in stock which will make a quicker turnaround.
Another note about laminate selection. Not all the laminates on the Wilsonart site are readily available. Anything brand new, or with a letter before the stock number is probably a special order. Also, to get the sound right, it is best to get the thinnest grade which is Vertical. Not all laminates are available in Vertical grade.