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Electric Dulcimer
Shown here is a 4-string Kentucky hourglass with Honduras Mahogany sides, and fingerboard and a Spruce top.

Jerry Rockwell
PO Box 79
Guysville, OH 45735-0079
Phone and voicemail:
E-mail: jcrockwell@gmail.com

Hollowbody Electric Dulcimer
Large Hourglass
I grew up in the 1960's playing my Gibson ES 335-TD through a 30's era table radio, which had RCA auxiliary jacks in the back.
When the volume was on "10"-- and my tone controls on the guitar were on zero -- there was a full, rich, melodic texture coming out of that speaker, but it was not loud enough to carry to the next room!
From this experience, I guess I have always approached electric instruments a little differently than most folks do: I see them as fundamentally intimate and introspective beings, and I'm often after the richest, most luscious melodic tone I can coax out of an amplifier.
Usually this just involves boosting the treble on the amp to maximum or near-maximum, and keeping the tone control on the dulcimer to zero or one.
Basically this model is a Large Hourglass (LH) model fitted with a quiet, fabulous sounding Bill Lawrence ™ L-250 humbucking pickup, and a tone and volume knob sitting right on the soundboard. (update: I'm now having trouble getting these Lawrence pickups, though I have used other high-quality humbuckers with excellent results)

The prototype is owned by Steven K. Smith, who gets the idea of this instrument better than anyone else I can imagine: it is a sweet, melodic, and very introspective sort of instrument -- both in feel as well as sound -- and Steve was playing his delicate Elizabethan repertoire right away, creating a magical texture unique to the electric.

Configuration shown above:
4 String: Double melody OR 4 String: 4-equidistant

4 Circle Soundholes (special shapes available)
String length, Nut to Bridge: 28"

Pickup: Bill Lawrence L-250 Humbucking pickup; tone and volume knobs on soundboard; jack in endblock. Wiring by Tim Kanke

Tuners: 15:1 enclosed Kluson style chrome tuners
String gauges: .010" melody, .014" middle, .022" bass
Tuned D-A-D for shipping

Optional, no extra charge:
Brass or Mother of Pearl dot inlays marking frets 3, 5, 7, 10
Strap buttons

LHE 4 String: $2100.00


Photos © copyright 2003
by Mary Lautzenheiser.
All rights reserved.

Comments on the Hollowbody Electric from Steven K Smith:

This instrument has sustain that is incredible, and a velvety soft action that seems to practically play itself. I need to do a lot more experimenting with it yet.
I'm using a small Gallien-Kruger amp with it, which has a little 7 band EQ. Per Jerry's suggestion I've been trying it with the GK's treble bands boosted, and the instrument's tone set all the way to the bass.

This gives it a sweet jazz-guitar sort of sound that is very appealing. It sounds dynamite for the blues on this setting, at least for a slow, introspective sort of blues. It generally seems well suited for delicate, slow sensitve pieces that show off its fabulous sustain, but it also appears to hold up well on some more up tempo tunes as well. I did try it with the EQ and instrument set flat, and the result was actually a quite nice "straight" dulcimer kind of sound.

Without the amp, the sound is sweet, with nice sustain, but very soft.

Steven K Smith