Creek Don't Rise

Inherited Dulcimer Worth anything?
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Author:  paulrace [ Thu Jun 16, 2022 7:12 am ]
Post subject:  Inherited Dulcimer Worth anything?

I get a lot of questions about instruments that the reader has inherited. Most of them claim that they would never sell their precious family heirloom, but - just out of curiosity - what do I think it's worth.

I usually try to avoid direct answers because 99% of the instruments in question were cheap mass-produed student instruments to begin with, so they have no collector's value. And a good percentage have been abused or stored badly so they're not even worth much as beginner's instruments today.

This reader seemed to have a little better perspective when he contacted me. Plus, a high percentage of Appalachian dulcimers that turn up used were built in custom shops or by hobbyists, so some surprisingly good - or bad - instruments come onto the used marketplace ever year.

The reader writes:

Hello. I have been researching a dulcimer that my father had in his home in Mexico, when I went to clean it out after he passed in March. My father was a very talented musician, and actually, some people say he was a musical genius. Your site was very helpful and informative. Unfortunately, I did not get my fathers talent! (my brother does play the drums) This dulcimer has clover sound holes, and I can't seem to find anything on line that shows that design. Wondering if you can help me. I can send photos if needed. Thanks for your time.


Photos would help. Just reply to this message and attach a couple,

- Paul


The reader sent several photos, one of which is below:

kit_built_60s.jpg [ 35.52 KiB | Viewed 12218 times ]

He wrote:

See attached photos.
To me, it does not seem to be very well built, but I know nothing about these instruments.
I know that my father traveled a lot-England, Scotland, Bahamas, etc.
Not sure if it came from overseas or if it is a local Virginia unit.

I appreciate any help that you can provide.

Thanks for your time.

Author:  paulrace [ Thu Jun 16, 2022 7:14 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Inherited Dulcimer Worth anything?

After examining the photos I replied:

I have one of these.

Sorry to say that your guess is correct.

These were kit-built in the 1960s or 70s, so every one is different in quality. I generally see them go for $35-50.

In fact there's one here:

Mine is unplayable because the fretboard bulges under the second or third fret. I don't know if it was mis-built that way or warped eventually. I MAY remove the frets and sand the fretboard flat, but that would be because I hate to see ANY musical instrument go to waste, not because it has any intrinsic value.

In other words, your father probably picked this up to experiment with. If he'd taken dulcimer seriously, he would no doubt have replaced it.

You could consider keeping it as a decoration, or if it is playable, you could keep it to learn on yourself. Dulcimer is fun and easy to learn.

Hope this helps,

- Paul


The reader replied:

I appreciate your time.
I have a pretty good eye for detail and see some spots on the unit that are not built well, so I figured it
was not of high quality.
I have so many other things that belonged to my father, that my brother and I have decided to give it to a friend since
it is not worth much. She can learn to play it or hang it on her wall.
(My brother and I have 7 guitars, bass amps, reel-to-reel tape recorder, recordings of his bands, etc that were his
and trying to decide what to do with everything is a bit overwhelming.
He had owned a music recording studio for 20 years)

I greatly appreciate your help and will refer people to your site if I am ever asked about a dulcimer!

Have a great day!

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