Sunday, June 21, 2015

playing through the pain

"music washes away
from the soul
the dust
of everyday life."
-red auerbach

a few days ago, a log was dropped on my right foot, breaking two toes and smashing two others. talk about an extreme way to slow oneself down!  even though occupational rehab seems to think that the weekend is all i needed away from the craziness at my construction job to heal enough to return to climbing ladders and hauling steel, i'm still finding ways to take it easy.

i wanted to stitch this weekend...the gods know how much i miss my needle chanting!  but the pain just wouldn't allow me to focus.  so i turned to music.  strumming quietly upon one of my treasured dulcimers. it got me to thinking. i have a wonderful dulcimer collection, but have never catalogued them.  so i started rounding them all up and tracking down the various scraps of paper and digital files containing what information i have on each of them (some are better documented than others). 

these two lovelies are the ones that started my love affair with appalachian dulcimers.  the one on the left is by a wonderful luthier by the name of joe sanguinette (now deceased). it is made of walnut with a purpleheart fret board and dogwood inlaid centers on the hand-cut dogwood pattern sound holes.  it is one of two prototypes that he never put into production because they were too time intensive.  i was lucky enough to acquire this one, with the help of my mother, while he kept the other one (which ended up on ebay some years ago and sadly escaped my bids to be shipped to a buyer in england).  the one of the left is by jack lyle of waynesville, nc (also, now deceased).  this one is made from spalted wormy maple and has a quilted maple back and a mahogany fret board.  where the sanguinette has a lovely, mellow voice, the lyle has a bright, cheerful one.

as i began assembling all of my dulcimers in one place in my home (until now, they've always been scattered throughout the house - tucked in closets, under beds, displayed on shelves, in cabinets and on walls), i realized that i had quite a few more than i thought i did. thirty-six, to be exact. unless there are others lurking about that i don't remember owning...

the most recently acquired, and the most unusual, is this mandolin-dulcimer hybrid by eric holland of dark star guitars in eastern kansas.  eric started by deconstructing a pre-1895 bowl-back mandolin by luigi ricca, then completely rebuilding and restructuring it into a new walk-about style dulcimer.  his workmanship is superb and the sound is amazing!  i can hardly wait to get acclimated to its nuances and subtle differences from a traditional dulcimer, at which time i'll record something with it and post it here on my blog.

meanwhile, as i get them each photographed and documented, i am going to start a dulcimer page on this blog that will chronicle my collection in the coming months. look for it in the tabs at the top of the page.  and as the pain in my foot decreases and i am able to focus on my stitching, i have a couple newly started projects on my workbench that i will be sharing in the coming weeks as well...



  1. OUCH that must hurt very much Joe ....
    Wishing you all the best and a good recovery !

    Love the instruments (only the looks are already
    breathtaking .... what about the music ;-) ...)

  2. OW! OW! That sounds painful. Love the dulcimers. I think Red Auerbach snitched that quote from Picasso........except he said it about art, not just music.

  3. How fascinating. Handcrafted musical instruments really are as individual as the piece of wood used and the hand of the maker. You are lucky to have such a wonderful collection.Sounds like you have one for every mood. I would be playing the blues right now but hopefully it won't be too long before you can tap your toes again. My daughter tore the nail off of a toe this spring and that was so debilitating that I can't even imagine how you are managing. Be kind to yourself. Sounds like a summer you will mark time by.

  4. Too bad about your foot, but playing with dulcimer's should do it.

  5. Joe san, I hope you have mended. I've been so ridiculously busy these past years. I opened up a few months to simply putter around the house and not start any big carpentry work but tidy and clean all the corners of my projects etc. Wishing you the best. Bryan