The Story of the Greene Mountain Dulcimer

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I saw my first dulcimer when I was in high school.   A friend mine bought one for his wife.  He was a very good guitar player and she didn’t play the guitar.  He wanted her to have an instrument so they could play together.  It was a simple little kit.  It had a cardboard body, a pine fretboard, and zither pegs for tuning.  I was not impressed.

Much later, I saw my next dulcimer at Mike Clemmer’s shop in Townsend, TN.  This time I was Impressed.  I was with a group of folks from our church in Rome GA.  We were doing mission work in a local Campground.  Several of the ladies on the trip were musicians and wanted to go to the “music store” in Townsend.  At Mike’s shop we all discovered the mountain dulcimer, hammer dulcimer, bowed psaltery and plucked psaltery (lap harp).  Several of the ladies bought the little Lap Harps for their grandchildren, Cathy could not.  I talked with the others about pitching in a little money for Cathy, and buying a Lap Harp as a “Thank You” for being our cook during the trip.  Everybody was glad to pitch in and we bought Cathy a harp, a case, and a lot of music.  Just before we left to go home we gave it to her.  It is impossible to describe how much this meant to her.

On the way back home Cathy rode with me so she could “practice” and I could help her out.  She played every song we had bought for her over and over.  With each song she became more confident.  This was the first musical instrument Cathy had ever played.  She was in her 70’s.

Music took a grip on Cathy.  She would go to the hospital and nursing homes with her lap harp, wander the halls, and play for the patients.  Cathy and her harp touched a community with music and love.

I learned several things from Cathy.  You are never too old to learn to play musicand, not everybody can afford an instrument that can bring joy to life, and influence the lives of many others.  Cathy touched my life.

The Lap Harp was great but like Cathy I wnated more.  I bought a cople of Dulcimer kits and Rhoda and I started learning on our own.  Rhoda has a degree in Music Therapy and was able to teach me how to convert many of the hymns we knew to the dulcimer.  The only tuning we had heard of was DAA.  We really enjoyed the dulcimer but we were a bit dissapointed by what we thought were its limits.

One week I was at Red Top Mountain State Park and noticed that there was a Dulcimer Event (Boin-n-Jam) that weekend.  Rhoda and I decided to go and listen.  On Friday night the dulcimer music we heard was unbelievable.  We were anxious to return the next morning and hopefully learn more.  Thanks to Peggy Martin, Terry & Pam Lewis, and Dale Anthony our eyes were opened to the wonderfull world of the Mountain Dulcimer.  We quickly joined the North Georgia Foothills Dulcimer Association (NGFDA) and we were hooked for life. 

Now that I understood more of what the dulcimer could do I began building them.  I did lots of research, and talked with many builders.  Everybody was very helpfull.  After making a big pile of "firewood, and sawdust", I developed the Green Mountain Dulcimer. 

I began building Mountain Dulcimers with the goal of making a good quality, affordable dulcimer.  I build the Poplar models to be very good entry level instruments that will carry their owners through many years of service.  I use simple body shapes and multi colored wood.  I build a guitar style peg head so you can follow the string all the way to the tuning peg, simplifying tuning and restringing.  I use a floating bridge to get the best intonation, and overlay the fretboard with cherry or walnut.  No two are alike but I do like to build “twins”(two dulcimers built from the same boards).  I am blessed that Mike Clemmer sells my dulcimers and shares in my goals.  You can find the Greene Mountain Dulcimer at Mike’s shop in Townsend, or order them directly from me.

 Sam GreeneGreene Mountain Dulcimer