Stringed Things: FRETLESS BOWED DULCIMER (Four-String “Petite Basso”)




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Published on Mar 30, 2017

FRETLESS BOWED DULCIMER (Four-String “Petite Basso”): A type of Appalachian dulcimer played with a bow and held upright like a cello--a hybrid between a dulcimer and cello/viola da gamba. Mine is fretless, which is quite uncommon, and tuned E-A-D-G (like a double bass). This one was handmade in 1984 by luthier Carole Vorce. Though I purchased it through an online auction, she’d signed the inside, making it possible (after some sleuthing) to locate/contact her :-) Originally, it was designed as a “bass” instrument, to support other musicians playing fiddles she’d made, and tuned an octave below violin (G-D-A-E). By the time it found its way to me, it’d lost its bridge (I got a cello bridge and tried cutting/reshaping it, by hand), “tailgut” connector to the body (hence the blue “tie-down” I used), and “feet” (I bought a threaded rod at Home Depot and cut it in half). In this video, I’m playing it like an upright bass.

Song: "Petite Basso Improvisations"
© Dale Turner 2017


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