Better than a cigar box guitar, Ray designed this simple, 3-stringed instrument so that anyone could have beautiful music w/out spending a lot of money or time (3 strings are a lot easier than 6!) The 5-star reviews on Amazon are good, but the best proof is seeing and hearing Ray and Shirley play, which you can do by clicking here (there are also some documentary videos at westernfolklife.org). Ray invents, repairs, or makes about an instrument a month, and shares more than he sells. To order the paper version, you can paypal the list price plus $4 for shipping to email@example.com. Add $1 for each additional book. For shipping outside the US, please goto usps.com and add the amount quoted there for shipping to your location. Questions? Please email me.
I thought Ray’s gift of music should be available far and wide. To that end, you can download the pdf for free. If you’d like a paper copy, email Kiko@handprintpress.com. Either way, please share it widely, especially to folks who will keep the gift moving. And if you’ve made a cigar box guitar, and decide to try this out, let me know what you think! (Here’s a summer camp example.) Ray decided on cardboard because he liked the sound, but it’s also much easier to find (and cheaper) than the kind of old, slow-grown wood that makes the best instruments.
Ray has done a lot of different things, but for 20 years in Eureka MT he taught 4th grade and gave all his students the chance to make their own instruments — as well as a V-8 engine (on the classroom floor) to take apart and put back together. I met him at a primitives skills gathering a few years ago and fell in love with him and Shirley (they arrived in a home-made RV), as well as the instrument. On a train trip back east, my family and I stopped off to visit and make a dulcimer. I took notes and pix and put together this little how-to. Here’s more of the story.
Ken Peek, Amazon –
Charming; a treasure! I’ve been fortunate enough to have taken Ray’s dulcimer class recently and was pleasantly surprised to find this wonderful book about Ray and Shirley Jacobs! They are, in my humble opinion, a national treasure, and this book does a terrific job explaining what makes them so through the accurate and entertaining descriptions of how to make this unique instrument. The photos and illustrations take the reader step by step through the process with clarity and wit; a must for lovers of roots music, hand-crafts,and authentic American ingenuity!
Sue M., Amazon –
Make a cardboard dulcimer for practically nothing
…Good directions, plenty of photos, plans and explanations for anyone with a modest workshop to build these funky cardboard and wood instruments inexpensively. The author also gives sources for strings and tuning machines, which is a nice touch. Stories about Ray are scattered thruout the book too. It’s interesting just to read it.
W. Todd Isaac, Amazon –
Nice thorough instructions
I purchased Kiko’s book from Ray when I took his class this last week. He does a great job of bringing the class to life with his writing. My dulcimer sounds great. I’m having fun learning to play.
Manya M., Amazon –
Wow! What a find this book is – for any teacher, student, lover of music – that’s all of us! I’ve heard Shirley and Ray play on the instruments he makes and the sound is surprisingly luscious. Fourth graders can make these instruments; anyone can. The instructions are detailed, step-by-step, and there is a good photo for each step. And when you have your instrument in hand you will even be taught how to begin playing it. Ray and Shirley Jacobs are well-known in their area for their performances, simple life-style, and generosity.
Steve Murphy, Amazon –
Really easy to follow instructions