NC luthier Lee Spears
North Carolina luthier Lee Spears has built more than 2100 hammered dulcimers over the years.
Spears was nine years old when he
pulled a ukulele neck from a junk pile and glued it to a wooden cigar box. A
small yellow Tinker Toy became the bridge, and the luthier had
made his first instrument.
His sights were set on winning the
fifth-grade talent contest. The ukulele, he decided, should be electrified.
I discovered that if I took a tape
recorder and pushed Play and Record at the same time, it amplified the
sound, he remembers.
The judges, as you can imagine, could
not resist the brown-eyed boy who stood on stage playing Oh Susanna on his
hand-made electric ukulele with a glued-on microphone and a tape recorder
hanging from his beltsimultaneously playing the harmonica.
Of course there were several hard-rockin
electric guitars he built in seventh grade, sometimes using Erecter set
Still longing for the perfect sound, the
made many visits to the local Radio Shack until he had rigged an FM
transmitter module to his guitar.
I could stand a block away, and anybody
who tuned into that channel could hear me through their radio, he said, his
voice still registering a ripple of excitement about that discovery.
is available on this site as well as CDBaby, Mel Bay, and many independent