Greenville Retiree Strikes a Chord Building Mountain Dulcimers

Tom Jones likes knowing he can take a piece of wood that would have otherwise been cut up or discarded and turn it into an object that produces beautiful music. For the last 45 years, Tom has been crafting mountain dulcimers by hand.

This Rolling Green Village resident has built upwards of 40 dulcimers, each taking around 20 hours of labor to make. The instrument is like a violin. It’s an hourglass shape with a turning head, and the size of an acoustic guitar.

Over the years, he’s created these unique instruments from different shapes and textures of wood. The first one he created in the 1970s was out of a wood door.

“Id read enough to know that I needed one-eighth-of-an-inch-thick wood to make the soundbox of the dulcimer, and that was the skin of that hollow-core door,” Jones says. “I took the skin off the door and then took some of the harder wood to make the fretboard and the tuner and so forth.”

He says the craftsmanship really intrigues him, and he enjoys how the dulcimers can vary in tone depending on which materials are used.

“The secret is that you can make it any shape you want,” Jones says. “You just need to make sure the fretboard and tuners are standard.”

To this day, he dotes on the musical instruments that he keeps inside his apartment home at Rolling Green Village senior living community in Greenville. His active lifestyle is music to the ears of a community that takes pride in having a vibrant culture for seniors.

While Tom stays busy making his dulcimers, he also enjoys getting involved in other activities that Rolling Green Village offers like the popular Genealogy Club.

Most recently he created and donated a dulcimer for the community’s 30th anniversary celebration. It includes the tree of life in the sound hold of the instrument. Tom is also planning to donate some of his dulcimers to the community.

“It would be wonderful if the memory care patients who have dementia could use them,” he says. “It’s such a simple instrument, it’s easy to get other people involved with it.”

Read Tom Jones interview in the Greenville Journal.