Technology meets tradition through innovation
Stephens Lutherie is the culmination of a lifetime of fine woodworking and over forty years of instrument making. Over those forty years I have produced many types of instruments, from woodwinds to percussion to stringed instruments. Throughout most of that time my interest kept doubling back to the mountain dulcimer. Perhaps because it is an instrument I enjoy playing or maybe because it is one of a very few instruments of American origin. In any case, I have a passion for this unique bit of Americana.
My goal is to advance the state of the art of mountain dulcimers by combining traditional design and construction techniques with the latest strategies in stringed instrument making and computer controlled manufacturing. I strive to make an instrument that meets the needs and desires of the professional musician at the highest level.
My instruments are constantly evolving, but they all have some common design principles. They all have a soundboard that is free to vibrate over its entire surface (not in contact with the fretboard) and they all have a double back so that the inner back vibrates freely. If you ever picked your dulcimer off your lap and noticed how much better it sounds, you know why these principles are key to achieving the responsiveness of a Stephens Lutherie dulcimer. As research has progressed, the design of the steel string and nylon string dulcimers have merged. In the current iterations the two can use the same body and even the bracing of the top has come down to a selection based on the desired tone rather than the type of string. To learn more about the specifics of the steel and nylon string instruments, select the appropriate tab at the top of the page. Each of these selections is further divided to explain the differences between the all wood and 3D printed/wood hybrid versions.