The Compact


Although it is not possible to make a tuba the size of a tinwhistle, with some ingenuity it's possible to cram a lot of dulcimer into a smaller space, and the result is the Compact.  1" (25.4mm) string spacing. 38" wide, 17.5" broad, 3" deep (96 x 44.5 x 8.8cm).


 Copper alloy strings in the lower tenor range and some complex bracing give it decent bass response, good dynamics, forceful but not harsh sound, the compass and chromatics of a Forte, and modest size and weight. It is also extremely strong; I have checked one as baggage on a plane in a soft case more than a few times and found it to pick up nothing worse than a few dents, so for air travel I highly recommend it.


All Wood Compact

Over the years of making these, I’ve added different options. The regular Compact has a redwood or western red cedar soundboard, western red cedar back, and maple frame. There are various choices for the wood over the frame that depend on what I have in stock. Tropicals like bubinga tend to be a bit heavier, walnut and cherry give a nice glow. Dalbergias like Bolivian rosewood and Honduran rosewood have lately increased in cost, and for those there’s a surcharge. The weight is about 14.5 lbs.

Carbon Fiber Compact

For some years now Sam and I have been using carbon fiber in some of our designs, and it has been especially useful for the Compact.  The CF Compact had a laid-up CF back and sides, maple cross-bracing, and redwood soundboard; it made an instrument that was quite durable, quite stable, had a clear tone, and amplified well. It was, however a pound or two heavier. And more complex, and so it is a bit more expensive than the wooden Compacts. The weight is about 15.5 lbs.

Light Carbon Fiber Compact

Because there’s been increasing interest in lighter instruments, a couple years back I started using carbon fiber in a different way; making a lighter box that was strengthened with thin carbon fiber, and simpler, lighter bracing.The result has been the LCF Compact. It has a western red cedar soundboard and back, CF overlaid back and sides, and CF stiffened frame. The weight is about 13 lbs., the sound is more open and lively, the cost the same as a wood Compact.


Ashbrook Tuning

Karen Ashbrook has developed an alternate tuning for the Compact, giving it more range in the treble at the small cost of a slightly less consistent arrangement of the high chromatic notes.


See Prices & Ordering if interested in purchasing.