Letting It "Settle In"


A few weeks ago I worked on a little dulcimer that belongs to a friend of Denny’s. It was a fairly old instrument covered in dust, severely damaged, crushed and “broken hearted”. I kind of like ‘em like that.


Upon seeing this dulcimer it reminded me of one time when Denny bought a dulcimer on the internet with only a picture. When it arrived, it was in pieces. The sound hole was completely broken out. The fret board was separated from the top and the top was cracked in several places. It was my first reconstruction. I loved fixing it. It has a name now. We call it “Sweet Melody”.


So anyway she again hands me this additional dulcimer. This time the top is cracked in several places. The “fingers” on the “f” holes are cracked and barely attached. One of the internal braces had broken loose and was rattling around inside. A challenge.


I finished it Sunday night; anxious to put strings on it and hear it sing. It didn’t. Was this instrument so broken hearted that it lost its voice? I know that so many of you who are accomplished musicians will tell me what is coming next. Indeed, I learned this lesson myself other times before. But, I have always been a slow learner. As the ages have taught us, “lessons are repeated until they are learned”.


I continually struggled to tune the instrument and continued to play it for a while. I stopped a little disappointed. Its voice was underwhelming. I set “her” aside and did something else.


I did not get back to the instrument until the next day. It was about sunrise. [That is me waxing poetic.] I picked up the little dulcimer and ever so gently asked “her” to sing [poetic again].


And, She did sing in a voice clear, sweet and true. Amazing!


The problem was not because of the dulcimer itself. It was not because of my workmanship. Nor, was it because of its age. It was simply and only because it needed a little time to “settle in”. And, don’t we all need such time after big changes in our lives?


Gary Bell President, GPDA

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