This one may prove to be a bit of a challenge. Elsie had asked if I could lower the action on a dulcimer she had been given. On closer inspection, this instrument really needed some TLC to be fully playable.
It has a really beautiful shape and a nice sound, but the fretboard was a bit of a head-scratcher.
It appears that this dulcimer was designed to be played only on the melody string with a wooden noter–the traditional style (and the way I normally played for about 20 years). The seventh fret was a half fret, making it unusable for chording.
The scroll head is interesting, but the current nut is covering an old zero fret slot and the strings are cutting into the end of the fretboard–the same thing is happening at the tailstock as well.
Several of the frets themselves are not square; this is not so much of a problem if you only play on the melody string, but becomes problematic while chording.
Finally, the scale is strange and the frets are somewhat misaligned. It’s technically 26.375″, but the bridge is set closer to a 28″ scale. The 2nd fret (above) is close to correct, but the third fret is set for a 28″ scale.
The good thing is, the fretboard is nicely flat, so my suggestion is to create a new walnut fingerboard (above, right) with a new bridge and nut.