Bowed Dulcimer, by Sylvan James, Gass[a]way, West Virginia

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Title

Bowed Dulcimer, by Sylvan James, Gass[a]way, West Virginia

Description

This instrument was built in 1969 by Sylvan James of Gassaway, WV. In Gerald Milnes's 1999 book Play of a Fiddle, James is described as a "pre-Revival Braxton County dulcimer maker, Lower Mill Creek."

Creator

James, Sylvan

Date

1969-09-26

Identifier

DS-19

Coverage

Braxton County, West Virginia

Dulcimer type

E

Owner

Tennessee State Museum, Nashville, Tennessee

Cataloged by

S. Conatser; Z. Law

Physical description

Notations in pencil visible through sound holes: "Built / 9-26-69" and "Sylvan James / [address] / Gassaway / WVa"; hourglass-shaped dulcimer with thick waist; poplar sides, fretboard, and headstock; finishing nails visible on top and back; top has 4 heart-shaped sound holes, all of which point toward an imaginary line dividing the middle of the instrument; large carved headstock with 2 parallel channels extending the full length of the scroll; stylized branch with seven leaves carved into the side of the headstock; 3 tuning pegs mounted into sides of headstock, with penciled numbers indicating which peg for which string; headstock and fretboard a single piece of wood; frets inset slightly and do not extend to either side of fretboard; frets filed flat; circular markers inset in fretboard after 1st, 4th, 8th, and 13th frets, 2 of which are green, and 1 silver; wooden nut and bridge inset into fretboard; tailpiece a different piece of wood, possibly walnut, with a separate piece of metal screwed to tailpiece to create mount for strings; unique string mount; instrument accompanied by small bow from cane, although no documentation that bow was original to instrument; excellent condition overall.

Geolocation

Citation

James, Sylvan, “Bowed Dulcimer, by Sylvan James, Gass[a]way, West Virginia,” Appalachian Dulcimer Archive, accessed April 28, 2017, http://dulcimerarchive.omeka.net/items/show/79.