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DIY - Mountain Dulcimer 20"

My first attempt in making a acoustic Mountain Dulcimer. I had a sheet of poplar plywood (3mm) of 60 cm lying around so I decided to make a 20" Mountain Dulcimer.

The headstock and the bridge side part were made from 2 pieces of a 18 mm edge-glued beech panel glued together (height 36mm). The Headstock and V-shape bridge side part (angle 60) were cut using a bandsaw.

Two strips of 36mm width poplar plywood were used for the curved sides and glued to the headstock and bridge V-shape part.

The bottom plywood sheet was glued on the frame and cut by using a bandsaw. Two holes were cut in the upper plywood sheet. A piezo was hotglued on the upper plywood approximately were the bridge will be, and an output jack was added in the side part.(no picture)

A Beech strip (380x40x8 mm) was used for the fretboard. The scale length was aimed at 20 inches (508 mm). Diatonic fretting was used (including the 6+ fret). The fretboard was glued on the sound board.

Fret 1 2 3 4 5 6 6+ 7 8 9 10 11 12
distance from nut (mm) 55.4 104.8 127.4 169.0 205.9 222.9 238.9 254.0 281.7 306.4 317.7 338.5 357.0

An aluminium 90 angle profile (10x10mm) was used as nut. A 10mm aluminium T-profile was used for the bridge. The dulcimer was waxed.


As this dulcimer has a rather short scale, I used the String Tension Pro calculator from D'Addario to determine the strings that will keep the feel of the D'Addario EJ64 set(-> Electric Mountain Dulcimer). Using standard tuning (D4 D4 A3 D3) the following strings gauges were calculated and used: 0.016, 0.016, 0.018, 0.030w. The double D4 string is difficult to handle because of the thickness (0.016). I use only one D4 string at the moment.

Material used