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Individualized Sound Holes Designs

James Jones custom sound hole design

The instrument above has a stained Redwood soundboard with Cherry bridges and Sycamore around the Curly Maple sound hole design.

One of the unique features of my custom hammered dulcimers and custom bowed psalteries is that each of these instruments have an individualized sound hole design, whether one of mine or a design developed through collaboration with the purchaser. If you choose to develop your own design, you will put your unique signature on the instrument making it more personal. The only sound hole images I will do again are traditional Celtic designs. 

James Jones sound hole design
James Jones sound hole design

My designs, represented by the two above, tend to be more abstract. They are created through the cutting of paper circles. I make a good number and you can select one of these for installation in my Custom model dulcimers at no extra cost.  Each of my designs will become unique to that dulcimer. The only designs I repeat are from my selection of Celtic designs. If you would like a unique sound hole design installed in either a Student or Custom model dulcimer, it will add $100 to the base price. Each design is cut out of sandwich of curly maple custom cut veneer. The motif is surrounded by a wooden rim which usually matches the instrument's trim or pin panel.

Examples of Customer Designed Soundholes (Slide Show)
Designing Your Own

I encourage individuals considering a custom design to find something that is unique and personal. It could be your own drawing or an image you adapt. Search within Google Images to locate possible source material. You need to think about images that would look good in silhouette so specify that in your search. All designs are made up of negative (cut away areas) and positive (white wood). You have to look at possible images in those terms. You can also have engraved lines that are not cut all the way through.  Always indicate those elements in your design.  The positive (wood) areas of your design should be connected and they must be supported by either the rim or the rest of the design. You can't have thin elements suspended out in space that will sag downwards. Islands of wood that aren't connected to other positive elements can't exist; when cut they will just drop away.  If you are creating a design from scratch, make sure you send me an image that is black and white.  Shaded pencil drawings take a lot more work to translate. 

If the design is relatively simple, I will cut it personally using a scroll saw. If the design is very detailed and needs engraving, laser cutting would be used. Send me links from the web or jpgs of what you have in mind. Don't worry about the size as I can scale your image although be aware that you'll need an image that will look good at around 2.5" to 3" in diameter. It will involve some back and forth before a design is finalized.

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