CHAPTER 4: Dulcimers in the British Isles since 1800 > Dulcimers in the Midlands & the North

Earlier 20th century


Albert Fell played an instrument with long bridges which was finished off with a pair of elegant covers over the hitch- and wrest-pins. These covers or lids are particularly interesting; they seem characteristic of a number of Birmingham instruments, notably those of the Fell family and Leslie Evans, but they were not universal: Alf Roberts, for instance, did not have them.

Apart from Birmingham, they have only been seen on two instruments, one which Tony Bingham had for sale, and one Chinese instrument, the 'butterfly piano' of Sir David Trench (fig. 240).

This photograph shows Albert Fell in 1908 sitting at a table to play; the other photo with Albert, taken some 43 years after this one suggests that this one must have been taken when he was quite young. The surface of the table is covered with a cloth, which many players would have removed for improved resonance. The photo seems to have been taken outdoors, in the alley between two houses, and perhaps for the sake of the light ...

Albert used to busk prior to 1914 and played with hammers, some with cork tips (one pair of which his son kindly gave me) others of bent-cane and wool, as used elsewhere and mentioned in the tutors.