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Doug Berch

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A dulcimer maker and player sharing the adventure of being a luthier and musician.
Updated: 46 min 5 sec ago

Music I’d Like To Hear #128

Thu, 05/18/2017 - 7:23pm

Hurdy gurdy and musette duo*

Categories: Luthiery

Free-Form Dulcimer Making

Tue, 05/16/2017 - 10:06pm

Bartione dulcimer soundboard layoutI have basic patterns for my dulcimers but the the exact shape and size of each dulcimer varies slightly from one dulcimer to the next. I have embraced a fairly free-form style of building and use very few jigs, forms, and fixtures.

By building free-form I feel like I am sculpting a dulcimer rather than making a bunch of parts and assembling them. The frame of the dulcimer (sides and end blocks) and the fretboard become the reference points for laying out the rest of instrument. I can make small changes to the shape and size of the dulcimer by feel and eye and work with it until everything seems right to me.

The thickness of the top and back and the bracing pattern are determined in a similar manner.

Free-form building is not the most efficient way to make dulcimers in a timely manner. If I made all the parts to a set pattern and assembled them in fixtures I would make more dulcimers in less time but I wouldn’t enjoy the process very much.

Laying out position markers and soundholes on a baritone dulcimer These photographs are of a baritone dulcimer in progress. The final shape of the dulcimer is traced on the soundboard and the soundholes are laid out using a template. I have also laid out the placement of the position markers on the fingerboard. A scraper serves as a short straight edge for drawing the layout lines.

Making sure everything is where it belongsAlso important are notes to myself to make sure everything goes where it is supposed to go. There is a reason I do this. Guess what happened the last time I didn’t do this!

Categories: Luthiery

Music I’d Like To Hear #127

Sun, 05/07/2017 - 6:58pm

Four Ladies - Four Accordions!

*

Categories: Luthiery

It Doesn’t Take Much

Thu, 05/04/2017 - 10:06am
It doesn’t take much to do some of the things we want to do. As a teenager I was in a theater company that cobbled lighting together from parts found at the local hardware store. It worked. Some of the best musicians I have heard played on what many would call substandard instruments. I have […]
Categories: Luthiery

Music I’d Like To Hear #126

Tue, 04/25/2017 - 10:32am
Categories: Luthiery

What’s On The Bench – 4/21/2017

Fri, 04/21/2017 - 4:39pm
On the bench are three planes that have been getting quite the workout lately. They started complaining that they were overdue for a sharpening. I have come to trust their feedback so I took them seriously. Here they are minus their blades. They feel empty and lonely without their blades but this situation will not last long. […]
Categories: Luthiery

Music I’d Like To Hear #125

Thu, 04/06/2017 - 10:08am
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Categories: Luthiery

Learning From My Past – Dulcimer #24 From 1979

Sun, 04/02/2017 - 1:25am
Dulcimer #24 is the only dulcimer I have in my possession from the first phase of my life as a dulcimer maker. The dulcimer made its way back to me a few years ago and has spent most of its time hanging on the wall since its return. I began making dulcimers on the kitchen […]
Categories: Luthiery

Music I’d Like To Hear #124

Thu, 03/09/2017 - 10:28am
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Categories: Luthiery

Appreciation For A Simple Tool

Fri, 03/03/2017 - 7:23pm
As I gain more experience with tools I find myself needing fewer tools. In the past I used this knife for repair work. It is long, thin, and has a slight taper in thickness. With a little heat, moisture, and this knife I can take the back off of a dulcimer, etc. I have seen […]
Categories: Luthiery

Music I’d Like To Hear #123

Thu, 02/23/2017 - 10:17pm
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Categories: Luthiery

What’s On The Bench – 2/16/2017

Thu, 02/16/2017 - 2:20pm
What’s on the bench? Nothing! Well, there are two holdfasts but they are really a part of the bench so they don’t count as stuff on the bench. I’m getting ready to start work on the next run of dulcimers and that begins with some general woodworking tasks. I’ll be sawing and planing rough stock […]
Categories: Luthiery