After considerable thought, I have decided to focus my future work on design advancements of the dulcimer and other instruments rather than production of instruments for the dulcimer community at large. I am very fortunate to have made close connections with a number of top professional musicians that can provide the vision and feedback to guide this next phase for Stephens Lutherie. The goal from the beginning has been to explore potential improvements and hopefully inspire others to join with me in the quest for an improved instrument.
It has become clear that there never will be one ultimate dulcimer- only dulcimers that are optimized for a particular purpose. That leaves plenty of room to innovate, test, document and disclose as I proceed. I will attempt to make my work open source, so that anyone interested can replicate whatever is learned and I encourage others to do likewise. My current designs are built on the shoulders of luthiers worldwide, who have generously shared their developments and I hope to return the favor.
This change in focus will limit the number of instruments finding their way into the general marketplace. From time to time there will be some very interesting prototypes that have served their purpose and are made available for sale. These instruments will have varying degrees of prior usage by top professional artists, but all will be state of the art designs unlike anything else available.
If you have already been contacted with confirmation that I am working on an instrument for you, nothing will change. The current build is well along and you will be informed when your instrument is complete.
In the two and a half years that Stephens Lutherie has existed, the support of the dulcimer community has been very heartening and is greatly appreciated. I have had the pleasure of meeting serious musicians from all over the country and hopefully have provided a new means for them to express their talent. I am excited about the future and the progress that can be made. Two days ago I played a new prototype that has the potential to open some paths. Stay tuned and let’s see where this journey may lead.