Wormy Chestnut Mountain Dulcimer
This is Jim's first dulcimer. He purchased the instrument from Walton, West Virginia natives Jim and Brenda Good. He met the makers of Mastertone Dulcimers at Cedar Lakes Art and Craft Fair near Ripley, West Virginia. There were several other vendors at the fair who also made very nice instruments. However when Mr. Good was observed hand-carving instruments from wormy chestnut--that was it. While most dulcimers have flat tops and bottoms, the wormy chestnut model has beautiful flowing lines. When we last talked to them we were told that because of the labor involved, they no longer make this model. So we may actually have a collector's model. Jim now has four Mastertones. Question: How many dulcimers can be played at the same time? (Answer: only one, but having more than one allows you to have a dulcimer of a different tuning all ready to play.)
The Goods use slices of walnut shells for sound holes as seen in the close-up above. Their dulcimers are not only works of art, but sound wonderful.
Mastertone dulcimers are made for five strings. Tuning for these strings which the maker recommended is DD D GB. Wire gauges are 13, 13, 15, 24 and 15. While Jim (the maker) and West Virginia state champion dulcimer contest winners use these dulcimers with this tuning, Jim (this writer) has not yet mastered the chords which are simply sought out by practice and more practice.
Jim usually removes all but three strings. Most of his tuning of the three strings is DAA and DAD.
When Jim and Elizabeth travel in the big truck, he plays for hours while Elizabeth drives.