Feather Dulcimer

First, most of my designs are focused on portability. They are suited to backpacking, bike touring, and other uses where light weight and small size are an advantage. Some of them also fit nicely in a carry on bag.


Second, while they depart further from more traditional instruments in design than some, they are more in line with the spirit of them. Traditional dulcimers were designed to be played by folks of modest means. Fancy inlays, and other frills were skipped in favor of a more rustic instrument that could be taken along without worry even into the wilds of the backcountry. I am trying to emulate that in my dulcimers. I do depart from the rustic ethic in that I try to celebrate the beauty of the wood in the simplicity of the designs. I believe that a beautiful piece of wood needs no embellishment.

My dulcimers are intended to be fun to play and pleasing to the ear without being fancy. I find the simple rustic look pleasing to the eye as well. Since I have mostly severed ties with Etsy, I will work out order details via email or FB messages and take payment by PayPal or personal check.


I am always happy to help work out which instrument is best for your needs and which options will work best for you. Individual attention is the norm throughout the process.


Hummingbird (base price $175)

The Hummingbird is a very tiny travel size dulcimer. The first prototype 12.5” long overall (10.5” VSL) and is tuned dad’ by default (an octave higher than a “normal” dulcimer). More recently I have been making them just a tad longer at about 14”. By default it has diatonic frets, but chromatic are available for a small premium.

Goldfinch (base price $185)

The goldfinch was created to fill the needs of folks who have said they want an instrument that is easy to fit in a carry on bag, but has a peg head and geared tuners. It has a VSL of 16” and an overall length of about 21” (at least that was what the prototype came out at, but future ones may vary a little as I refine the design). It can be tuned to a normal DAd like a full sized dulcimer, Gdg, or so other optional tuning at the customer’s request. I will string it to suit your preferred tuning. I have prototypes in both G and D and like the sound of both.

Chickadee (base price $180)

The Chickadee is a tiny travel size dulcimer. It is about 17” long overall (15” VSL) and was designed to be the smallest possible DAd instrument and is often tuned Gdg (other tunings available). By default it has diatonic frets, but chromatic are available for a small premium.

Wren (base price $180)

The Wren is a small travel size dulcimer. It is about 19” long overall (17” VSL) and is tuned Gdg by default (other tunings available). By default it has diatonic frets, but chromatic are available for a small premium.

Sparrow (base price $190)

The Sparrow is a travel size dulcimer. It is about 21” long overall (19” VSL) and is tuned Gdg or DAd by default (other tunings available). By default it has diatonic frets, but chromatic are available for a small premium. The Sparrow has been my most popular model.

Oriole (base price $205)

The Oriole is a travel size dulcimer. It is about 23” long overall (21” VSL) and is tuned DAd by default (other tunings available). By default it has diatonic frets, but chromatic are available for a small premium. This one is shown with an optional sound hole pattern.

Jay (base price $210)

The Jay is a larger but still travel size dulcimer. It is about 26” long overall (24” VSL) and is tuned DAd by default (other tunings available). By default it has diatonic frets, but chromatic are available for a small premium. The one pictured here has an optional (at extra cost) peg head, but I have sold more with zither pin tuning. Either are available. The Jay has a full sized sound and feel in a compact package.

Compact Raven (base price $220)

The Compact Raven is a full size dulcimer with zither pins instead of a peg head. This reduces overall length and weight without changing the sound or feel of the instrument. Size varies depending on the customer’s preferred VSL. It is tuned DAd by default (other tunings available). By default it has diatonic frets, but chromatic are available for a small premium.

Raven (base price $235)

The Raven is a full size dulcimer. Size varies depending on the customer’s preferred VSL. It is tuned DAd by default (other tunings available). By default it has diatonic frets, but chromatic are available for a small premium.

Bluebird (base price $200)

This is a tiny stick dulcimer especially suited to backpacking, bicycle touring, or other pursuits where weight and portability are important. This instrument has a surprisingly nice sound given it's very small size. It has just a bit of banjo like twang. The prototype was 8 ounces, but weight will vary with material choices. It has a VSL of 18” and is about 22” overall. I believe in making a very playable, but no frills instrument especially since these little instruments are likely to be knocked around in a backpack. These instruments are very easy to learn to play and as a result are ideal for aspiring musicians.

Robin (base price $220)

The Robin is a stretched version of the Bluebird. The extra length (2” longer) facilitates more tuning options (DAd) and it has a bit bigger sound.


Options

Extra string $20
Peg Head (for non peg head model) $35
Extra fret $12
Chromatic frets $32
Strap buttons $10
Removable feet (for playing on a table top) $20

Finish Options

Hybrid Oil


This is a mix of equal parts 100% locally grown and processed tung oil, mineral spirits, and urethane varnish. The finished product is much like a pure tung oil finish, but it fills the pores a bit better and dries faster. It has less gloss but more feel of the wood. It is the choice of the majority of my customers. It is more of an "in the wood" finish.

Sprayed Lacquer


This is a sprayed glossy lacquer that is wet sanded and machine buffed. It is a hard flim finish with less feel of the wood. It is more of an "on the wood" finish.

Fret Board Finishes


These options may depend on the wood choices that the customer picks. I never use a film finish like lacquer on fret boards so it is either an oil finish or an unfinished, but polished wood finish. With some oily woods just polishing can be a very good option. For wenge it is my first choice and until recently it was my first choice for ipe as well. I recently discovered that ipe takes my hybrid oil finish very well so that has become my first choice for it. There may be reasons that a customer may want to depart from those first choices and i would be happy to discuss them, but the large majority would be well off to stick with those preferences. For non oily woods the hybrid oil finish is pretty much a slam dunk.

Reviews

A few reviews from satisfied customers:

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Super little instrument (x2) made to my own spec by a guy who can accommodate almost anything you want....and just as a bonus Pete has to be one of the nicest guys on the planet! Very very very happy customer and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend his products/service, just brilliant!! :-D

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Fantastic!!! Requested this tiny size for travel.Sounds great.I needed something that could really slip into a backpack, or saddlebag on a motorcycle, under a car seat,etc.Very durable also.

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Nice little instrument. I got it for my father and he loves it, says he's going to play the blues on a dulcimer. Too cool.

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Actually, mine is the smaller Wren. It is a wonderful little instrument, nicely made, not loud, but sweet-sounding. Just the thing for travel, yes, but also fun around the house. It won't take the place of my "real" full-sized dulcimer, but it's a happy addition. And a real bargain.

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Love this very small dulcimer. Seller was most helpful in choice of woods and tuning recommendations. It has a very strong voice for such a small instrument. I will enjoy taking her with me as I travel, as her size and weight will allow her to be taken any where with ease. Highly recommend this seller as shipping was fast and well packaged.

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This strumstick was an idea I had (chromatic fretting) that would let me play it almost like a banjo, and Pete made it happen. It sounds great!

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Pete is great to work with, and this dulcimer sounds awesome!