The instrument formerly known as the Aaron O’Rourke Nylon String Dulcimer is no more. Hereafter, it will be referred to as the Aaron O’Rourke Fingerstyle Dulcimer. The renaming is the result of preliminary testing that showed great potential for the instrument as a steel string fingerstyle dulcimer. Since there is only one production instrument in existence and it is set up with nylon strings, we have very little experience with steel strings. Aaron and I tried the concept out very briefly when we doing our wood comparison tests (don't tell Aaron, but I had tried it earlier) and within seconds we both felt that there was real potential to be explored at a future date. Fortunately, the string tension is very similar between the nylon and the steel strings and the owner can go back and forth between the two as they like (I will provide appropriate string gages for your intended tuning). Since the saddle is not notched and the instrument uses a zero fret, both the nut and saddle seemed to work well as is. So now you will be able to exploit two unique voices with one dulcimer. As more instruments become available, I will post additional information and sound clips of the steel string version.
Aaron's instrument in the spray booth