Welcome to my build philosophy page. I would like to share a bit more about the “Standard Features” and my approach to lutherie.
Let’s start with the Radius Fingerboard Overlay.
The radius fingerboard is best described as a slight convex surface on the fingerboard overlay. This eases the play-ability of the dulcimer. Players who make a “bar” with the pinky enjoy less fatigue as well.
•Low Temperature Torrefied Soundboards
I use a low temperature Torrefication process on all spruce, cedar, and redwood soundboards. This, simply stated, expedites the aging process by altering the wood at the cellular level. This results in a more responsive soundboard.
•The Ebony Pin Bed
The string pins at the end of the dulcimer are mounted into a very dense wood called ebony. The ebony sits over the tail block of the instrument. This combination provides an extremely stable area for the string to attach resulting in very low string energy loss. One of the challenges of making acoustic instruments is to direct as much string energy as possible to the soundboard. The Ebony Pin Bed in unison with other features found on Bella Dulcimers addresses this challenge.
•Solid Spanish Cedar Linings
The linings of the dulcimer are used to increase the surface area where the top and back are glued to the sides. Solid linings have long been used in the world of lutherie to increase the stiffness of the sides resulting in a more efficient soundboard. This translates into better volume and tone.
•Gold Evo Frets
Gold Evo fretwire is a copper alloy (elemental composition: CuSn15Fe1Ti0.1) that has been used for years in the optical industry. It maintains its gold appearance through and through. It is harder and longer wearing than standard nickle/silver fret wire.
• Ultra Thin Nitrocellulose Lacquer Finish
Nitrocellulose lacquer has been the finish of choice for string instruments for many years with great success. I use an open pore, ultra thin nitrocellulose lacquer finish to reveal the natural beauty and tone of the instrument.
The 25.7 inch vibrating string length is my standard. Although I do offer other VSL’s as an option, I currently recommend the 25.7. The overall tonal response is lush and defined. Lower string tension in combination with the comfortably spaced frets result in a dulcimer that is playable for hours without fatigue.
My final thoughts….
I love the dulcimer community and I love the mountain dulcimer. The term “dulcimer” means “sweet sound.” As a veteran guitar maker my initial challenge was to NOT transform the dulcimer to a miniature guitar. I love the acoustic guitar, but guitars are guitars and dulcimers are dulcimers. My building philosophy is simple. I draw upon a lifetime of acquired knowledge and couple it with artistic intuition to skillfully create a dulcimer that will bring many years of enjoyment to those who would cherish them. I invite you to cherish Bella Dulcimers. Tony Vines