The wood used in dulcimers must have special qualities that create the acoustic properties so prized in premier stringed instruments.

  • It must be cut at special times of the year
  • It must come from carefully chosen places
  • It must be specially sawn
  • It has to be carefully aged
  • It must be of instrument quality:
    • Straight grain
    • Evenly spaced grain, or varying gradually
    • Free of checks, shakes, salts or mineral deposits
    • Free of knots and figure

Wood which meets all these criteria is capable of shaping the voice of a musical instrument, and is properly called the tonewood.

There is a wonderful article on the structure of wood, and why woods have the characteristic look they do, on William Cumpiano's wood page. Bill Cumpiano is an internationally known luthier, teacher, and writer on guitar building, and his site is worth visiting by aspiring luthiers.

Click to see full size