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Shenandoah Valley Sheitholt


After examining and measuring a number of  Shenandoah Valley instruments, I have produced several instruments that are a good, workable, recreation of this 18th century forerunner of the fretted dulcimer. They have a clear, sweet sound. Since they share many features with the Flemish hommel, I have set up a few with the hommel-style split fretboard which adds chromatics to the diatonic setup.

Watch a video of Paul Oorts playing one of my Scheitholts.

Tambour de Béarn

Tambour de Béarn  is a  descendant of the earliest form of the hammered dulcimer, a string drum which could provide two notes.

After taking up playing the Provençal galoubet (tabor pipe) and tambourin (drum), I was intrigued by the neighboring tradition in Béarn, where the one-handed flute is accompanied by a simple form of the hammered dulcimer, an unusual string drum.


Played with a three-hole one-hand pipe, like a tabor pipe, it seemed like a cute little thing to add to the list.

I created one for myself, modeled after the traditional style and have been asked to produce them for a few other folks. The usual Béarnaise  tambour is built heavy and hit hard, and often tuned  C/g/C/g/C/g.  I've  lightened the box and made the tuning  A/A/A/e/e/e/,  so players can  shift the drone. Set up with a pickup and amplified, you can almost stir stew with the bass notes. It works well with the Susato low-A tabor pipe, and is pleasant behind French cornemuse or Scottish small pipes.


 The A strings are heat-shrink tubing wrapped Aquila overspun nylon strings. The E strings are army surplus field telephone wire. Yes, you read that correctly. Field telephone wire was made of several strands of copper and several strands of high-strength steel wire embedded in thick, durable plastic. It works.

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