The Richmond Register

November 23, 2013

Oversized dulcimer makes a stop in Richmond

By Liz Denny
Register Feature Writer

RICHMOND — John Knopf, of Detroit, just completed a nearly 8-foot Uncle Ed-style dulcimer, which he brought by Currier’s Music World Friday to display.

Knopf began working on the dulcimer in November 2012, and finished it in October, working on it in his spare time, he said.

The dulcimer is an instrument that mountain people used to accompany a ballad, he said.

Knopf played "Amazing Grace" on the 8-foot instrument for the crowd that gathered at Currier's Music World to see the dulcimer Friday evening.

Knopf started making dulcimers when he was in high school in 1974. He said he was fascinated with the idea of playing something that you make yourself.

He studied the history of dulcimer styles and decided he liked the Uncle Ed early style, which has an hourglass shape and is sometimes called the “Cumberland” style.

The instrument has two large sound holes. In one hole is a picture of Uncle Ed and the other hole has a picture of Knopf.

A conventional dulcimer is usually about 34 inches long and weighs about 1 pound, he said. However, Knopf's dulcimer is about 8-foot-long and weighs 27 pounds. The dulcimer soundbox is made out of plywood with laminated poplar and walnut pegs.

Knopf painted the wood, and because of the size, he had to use several pieces of wood.

Following Uncle Ed’s style, Knopf painted his instrument black, and because he had leftover black paint from painting a barn, he joked.

The dulcimer will be on display at the Appalachian Artisan Center in Hindman, Ky.