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

Midlands & North - Instruments

The second pair of instruments have proportions closer to the average, and bridges which are rather taller than the Birmingham models, and more substantial than the Derbyshire and Lancashire examples. Both have triple treble courses, and are of similar thickness; they are also stained similarly.


The Derby instrument of John Tamms has bushes, in this case of wood, as well as some rather attractive channelling and rose carving round the edge of the soundboard, an unusual place to decorate; it is strung 11 III 10 III .


The Kettering instrument of Barry Lewis is unusual in having only six bass courses, and consequently a solid portion in the treble bridge where no strings pass through: this feature has otherwise only been noticed in the illustration in Buchner, of Byelo-Russian women-folk playing dulcimers.

The double (i.e. 6 II )bass courses - not currently strung - are also remarkable, as are the saddles, which are made of strips of wood only a little lower than the bridges. This feature was also noticed in only one other case, the Italian salterio in Baines 1966.

The panel on the shorter edge of this instrument is interesting because, if continued on all four sides, it would constitute the box-construction of Dr. Norlind's 'older' type - very rare in the British Isles nowadays, although my own performing instrument is of that type - and thus suggests that there is a continuum between the two. If this were the case, the difference between them would be a difference of degree, rather than a difference of kind.

Both instruments have a supporting foot and a carrying handle (one of stout leather, the other a metal drawer-handle): the bridges on each differ from those on the Birmingham type, being about the same length along the top as they are along the base.