Strumstick Dulcimer




Introduction: Strumstick Dulcimer

A fun build to use up some off-cuts

This will be a 3-string Strum Stick (AKA Stick Dulcimer)
Scale length will be 650mm (25.59")

Glue used is TiteBond Original

Wood (from left to right)

Mahogany (back off-cuts)
Red Cedar (from Ukulele build)
Mahogany (side off-cuts)

Angled beading unknown hardwood
Reclaimed quartered Spruce or pine from furniture

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Step 1:

I have drawn out the plan onto 3 sheets of A4

Step 2:

I made a mold out of MDF off-cuts.

The side was bent using a pipe and blow lamp.
The tail block was shaped and glued on.
I made the kerfed lining from the beading.
The arrow points to a small piece of veneer which will end up
giving me a slight neck angle.

Step 3:

I made the neck then cut and glued the scarf joint.
The neck heel will also be the neck block.
The ribs will be glued to the sides of the block/heel.
I forgot to take a pic.

I joined the soundboard.
The top is 2mm +/- 0.1mm.
Soundhole is cut out and the patch glued on.

Braces are glued on and rough shaped.

Step 4:

The back is joined and the brace is glued on.

Step 5:

I made the fretboard.
2 strips of Mahogany, from the side off-cut, with the grain running lengthways.
2 strips of thin veneer with the grain running widthways.
1 length of 1.2mm ebony veneer.

The fretboard thickness is about 6mm

Step 6:

The box is now closed.

Step 7:

I thought it was looking a bit plain
so I added a some Holly binding to the top.

The fretboard has two locating pins holding it on.

I will look through my odds and ends box to find something
to use as a tail piece.

Step 8:

The tailpiece was cut out of a small brass angle.

I bought a couple of them.

Here is a before and after shot.

Step 9:

The fretboard is glued on and most of
the neck shaping is done.

Reflection on some of the frets makes them
look a bit skew-whiff but they are parallel
with each other.

Step 10:


I had to wait a while for the machine heads to arrive in the post so
I made a case for the strumstick.

I made an oblong frame out of 4" x 1/2" planking then used thin ply
for the top and back. I sawed through the box to create the lid and
base. I stuck on some faux canvas material. I bought the 8 corners
but the rest was salvaged from an old cordless drill case. The inside has
a foam base wrapped in a dark cloth. The sides of the inside are covered
with some strips of vinyl sticky tape.

My tail piece did not work out as planned, so, I drilled new holes and hid the old holes under the small piece of decorative binding.
I cut a nut and saddle from some bone off-cuts. The bridge is mahogany.
The strumstick weighs 1lb 2 oz or about 500g (weighed on kitchen scales).
It has cheapo, lightweight, electric guitar strings on. I used the E,B and D
strings. It is tuned DAd.

I think that the sound is unique in the fact that it sounds simular to a number of different instruments. I know that it would sound different with alternative strings and playing style but as it is I can hear a touch of banjo, sitar, mando and various others. Playing with a drone evokes a celtic
type sound.

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    5 Discussions


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Hi r-philp,
    I used the stewmacDOTcom fret calculator, put in the scale length, set it to Dulcimer and pressed Calculate to get a list of measurements.

    Hope that helps.

    The tuning pegs were purchased on-line from a well known auction site.
    Making metal worm-geared tuning pegs is a bit beyond my skill set.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    How did you know where to place the frets? Did you copy the placement from another instrument? Did you purchase the tuning pegs, or make them yourself?


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks mikeasaurus
    I will edit and add a link


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Nice build!
    We don't have a way to host the video file here right now. You should upload the video to YouTube or Vimeo and embed it here for everyone to see!