Customer Comments
Indicated in bold is the instrument purchased.
Bowed Psaltery

James,

I wanted to send you an email. I bought a bowed psaltery in August of 2015. The main reason I bought it was to learn hymns to play for my 101 year old grandmother who wasn't able to attend church and had lost most of her hearing. She could hear by wearing a headset and talking into a box.

I practised and practised and learned several hymns and went several times to her home in Oregon from Utah to play for her.

Since then, my granmother has passed away and I played hymns for her one last time at the cemetery which was on the top of a mountain in Washington overlooking the St. of Juan de Fuca and Canada. It was absolutely the most beautiful sound as I playedi t that day.

Since then, I have played at church and gatherings at Old folks homes when our church visits the facilities.

I have enjoyed my psaltery more than I can tell you. The workmanship that you put into your instruments is amazing and the sound is fantastic.

Thank you for your talents and craftmanship in bringing this wonderful instrumetn into my life so I can share it with others. Allison


Mandolin
James,
The mandolin arrived today and you sure donÕt disappoint. ItÕs so perfect and so beautifully crafted; just a true work of art, honestly. Once I tuned it and sat down with it to play, I realized itÕs even more beautiful on the inside. It sounds fantastic and IÕm just absolutely 100% pleased. I love it and I just hope I can do it justice by playing it well.
Thank you so very much, Lisa
3/16/18/9 Custom Performance

Glenn Schmidt purchased an instrument in 2006. He created a nice portrait gallery of that instrument and the process of ordering it. Worth a visit.


3/16/15/8 Custom Travel

Hello James,

I've received the hammered dulcimer, and I am impressed. What I like best about the instrument is it's bright, round, and warm tone. The woods and soundhole came out great. It's smaller than my 16/16 but somehow has many more notes, and is lighter! The roundness and sweetness of the bass notes make up for the slightly less bass resonance than in larger instruments. I like the smaller string spacing too, because it's not terribly difficult to get used to and it makes chording and playing lots of strings over a variety of octaves easier. This model does a great job of putting a lot of notes and bridges onto a portable instrument which looks and sounds beautiful. This fits my needs of a dulcimer that is both portable and chromatic.

I am still "taming" it into tune while it settles into it's new environment. There are a few "buzzing" notes on the superbass bridge, but I've dealt with these before on my other dulcimer, and I see the owners manual even has suggestions for dealing with them.

All in all it sounds beautiful, and I like the way my original pieces sound on it a lot! I play dulcimer in two bands right now and the pickup will really come in handy for amplification. Thanks again for working with me on this instrument.

Michael


3/16/15/8 Custom Travel

Hi James,

My dulcimer arrived safely yesterday afternoon, and upon getting back to town I got my first look at it this morning - wow! It truly surpasses all of my expectations. The fit and finish are beautiful, and both your artistry and craftsman's attention to detail are evident even at first glance. The Georgian Cherry was definitely the right choice for the soundboard stain, and the lacewood is even more beautiful in person than it was in your photos. The soundhole design is gorgeous, too - exactly what I was hoping for!

Even though I have only given it its first, rough tuning, the tone is wonderful - it actually has even more volume and presence than I was expecting, and with my padded hammers it definitely has the harp-like sound I was looking for...and yet the notes have enough clarity and "punch" to handle jigs and reels without getting muddy. I am deeply impressed!

I foresee a long and very satisfied relationship with this instrument, and I am proud to call it my own. And it has been a pleasure to do business with you throughout the design and building process. You can definitely count on me for recommendations to any other HD players I come across!

With great appreciation,
Sam


3/16/15/8 Custom Travel

When I was searching the Internet ten years ago for my first dulcimer I based much of my decision to buy on the quality and sincerity of JamesÕ website. James provides excellent information for the first time buyer as well as for a veteran buyer which I now consider myself since I own eight of his instruments and soon will be purchasing several more. I recommend James Jones instruments to anyone who asks about mine which happens often at festivals and concerts.
 
James Jones hammered dulcimers are not only constructed well, but produces the sweet, balanced sound one would expect from a quality instrument. I listen to other makerÕs designs and find the hollow or duller sound of those not as appealing as the music coming from a James Jones instrument.
 
My nine year old has been enjoying these instruments since he was able to reach the strings by standing on my lap. He has become quite accomplished at playing what he ÒfeelsÓ on the hammered dulcimer or bowed psaltery. I find the greatest joy in sharing the music which comes to us from the different instruments we use. JamesÕ instruments work well with the Guild guitar I bought in 1975 and my great grandfatherÕs violin that my dad gave me several years ago.
 
Thanks James for the fruits of your labor that has added to the quality of my life through the glorious sweet sound of your products.

Rick


3/16/15/4 Custom Performance

Dear James,

I just want to tell you how much I am enjoying my new dulcimer. It took a while to settle into tune, but now it is fine. I like the way the sound is even through out its range and the sustain is just right. There's been no trouble adjusting to the difference in string spacing. In fact, I'm finding it easier because I don't have to reach as
far to roll chords or play octaves. I love those nice deep bass notes. Everyone oohs and ahs when they see this beautiful instrument.

Thank you for your patience and for your lovely workmanship.

I have just had my James Jones Compact Chromatic for two months. Gorgeous to look at and very easy to play. I faced a gig less than a week after I received the new instrument with 7/8 spacing. The footprint is not as big as many 11/12s. I was amazed that I was able to adjust so easily. I find that I don't have to reach as far which makes it much easier to roll chords and take big jumps. Sounds great and is 4 pounds lighter than my old 15/14. This is a new product for James and is a welcome addition to his catalog for those of us who find carting around a huge piece of furniture awkward and hard on the back.
Bettie


4/14/12/8 Travel Chromatic

Dear James,

Although I have played dulcimer for years, I've found most instruments to be
a compromise. I have always wanted something laid out a bit differently, or
more easily transportable, or more chromatic in a smaller package.

You took the time to work with me, and designed a fantastic custom
instrument. You were willing to go beyond the other designs on your website, and the
result is exactly what I was looking for. Heavily chromatic but not heavy, a
large musical range in a small instrument, and light besides!

Besides the fact that it is what I wanted in terms of notes, it has a
striking appearance, and is easy on the eyes. Your website made it easy to see the
available wood options, and to choose a combination to my liking. The custom
soundhole carving is a much appreciated option, and makes me smile every time I
stop playing and focus on it.

There are many custom dulcimer builders, and the best usually have very high
prices. Your instruments in general are surprisingly good values, achieving yo
ur goal of providing beautiful and affordable instruments, and I feel I got a
lot of instrument for the money.

Thank you for a beautiful and unique instrument.

T.J.


3/16/18/9 Custom Performance

James,
Every day, I say "thank you, James." The instrument you built for me continues to get better and better in both tone and responsiveness. Having you build a hammered dulcimer for me was the wisest move of my life. And it is admired with envy wherever I take it. Also, I've begun to really enjoy your hammers. At first I didn't like them because the handles were bulkier than I thought I wanted, but more recently, I've been using them as my favorites while others in my collection collect dust.

Hello James,
I can't tell you how much I am enjoying my dulcimer. The tone is getting richer every day and it is already staying in tune with itself. I can hardly stay away from it. And one of the things that makes it so dear is its sheer beauty. For the first time in my life, I am experiencing the difference between a truly fine instrument and just a good one.Again, thank you, not only for the instrument you have built for me, but for your love of fine craftsmanship which glows throughout the instrument.

Dianne


3/16/18/9 Custom Performance

Hello James:

I just thought you might be interested in where your dulcimer has been and the reaction. My hubby and I traveled from one side of Canada to the other over a period of two months this summer. I played as often as I could sometimes as part of a group and sometimes alone.

We went to the dulcimer festival in Evart and that is where you would have been proud as punch. There was a steady parade of people coming to our fifth wheel to see and hear my dulcimer. I didn't carry it to the workshops nor to all of the jam sessions but I took it to some jams and the word got around. People were very impressed by the appearance and the sound. It seems that the dulcimers in Michigan sound more like a mandolin or a banjo...tinny. Most people hadn't heard your name but there were a few.

I am really enjoying myself. I'm getting more familiar with the dulcimer's layout and I love the tone. The dulcimer is getting more and more stable. (and it's been in all sorts of climates). I am really glad I bought my "dream dulcimer" from you. I enjoy playing it so much that I never have to force myself to practice....I have to force myself to stop!

Thanks so much

Reta


3/16/18/9 Custom Performance

James,

I'd like to "christen" this board (discussion board) by dropping a few words about my James Jones dulcimer. I have a Custom Performance 3/16/18/9 with a redwood soundboard and paduak bridges and dampers. This is the fifth dulcimer I've owned, and among some strong competition, it's easily the best of the bunch. Its tone is rich and clear and just getting better with age, it's got great dynamic range, and it's the best balanced dulcimer I've ever played. The string spacing is fast and comfortable and the layout is superb, especially with the right-sided extended bass bridge. On top of all this, James is a pleasure to work with. He's easy-going, patient, open to any questions, and good to his word. I can't recommend him or his dulcimers highly enough.


I spent about two hours running through a lot of my repertoire last night, and I'm liking this dulcimer more and more. I'm especially impressed with its balance and dynamic range, and even in it's current "green" state, it sings nicely. I also like that it's a "fast" instrument, and I'm finding the string spacing to be very comfortable, even if it makes me sound a little sloppy in the short term. I really need to improve my accuracy......that soundhole rosette is fantastic, and I'm very impressed by the level of detail. I showed it to my cartoon-fan friend at work yesterday, and he was bowled over, too. It's a real work of art, and I love it.
Chris


3/16/18/9 Custom Performance

James

I believe I have already communicated to you how absolutely delighted I am with the instrument you built for me. In this day and age, I find that it is rare that Iam really satisfied when I make a major purchase. It seems like there is always some kind of catch or down side. I can tell you that I have not had a single moment of regret or doubt about my new dulcimer. You were very responsive to my emails during the construction phase, and you answered my questions regarding woods, set up, etc. which was a big plus for me. I had researched pretty extensively the different builders, and your accessibility via the internet was a big factor in my deciding to trust you to build my new instrument. The appearance is stunning, and everyone who has seen it has been impressed with the detail, the smooth trim, and the original soundhole. The comments have come not only from musicians and other instrument-savvy types but from carpenters, cabinet makers, and woodwork savvy types. It It tool several days for the strings to stretch and settle, and now it is in beautiful tune. The more I play it, the better it sounds to me- especially the lower courses. It tunes up very easily. My wife sometimes has to come and get me to quit playing so I don't forget to eat. The price was very reasonable - as a matter of fact I regard it as a great bargain in comparison with other hammered dulcimers of comparable quality.

I very much enjoyed coming up to meet you and pick up my instrument. I realize that not everyone can do that, but for me it contributed to the whole purchase experience being such a great joy. I was very impressed that you are a one - man shop -- the buck stops with you. You stand behind your work, and there is no middleman or sales force to wade through.

I would recommend to any level of player from beginner to full time touring professional that they consider one of your beautifully crafted, affordable, exquisite sounding and playing instruments

Bart


3/16/18/9 Custom Performance

James,
I realize I probably haven't told you how much I love my dulcimer, and also how much I appreciate how extraordinarily accommodating and patient you were with me in my initial freakout period when it was new--you went far, far beyond the call of duty in the customer satisfaction department, and you racked up some substantial good karma. That was a pretty crazy time in my life in general, and I'm sorry you were on the receiving end of some of the craziness.

Now--can it be ten years later?--my Custom Performance is a joy to me, and I feel as if I'm starting to grow into it as a performer. It was some years before I started using all the strings, even, but now am so grateful that this instrument can do whatever I ask of it, in the jazz/swing and classical as well as "trad" departments.  And its sound, to my ear, just keeps getting better--sweet but not sugary, even, just the right amount of sustain, distinct but not overpowering in a group of other instruments. It sounds just the way I want to sound. I'll be growing into this instrument for the rest of my life.

This afternoon, playing with the patio sliding door open, I realized a rather frantic robin was "singing" back to me--thinking I was some huge other robin threatening his territory, I think.Robins can be pretty obsessive/aggressive, I understand, but still, I think this robin's reaction is a compliment to the instrument maker.

All best,
S. Kirby


3/17/17 Custom Performance

Hi James,
 
I am now in possession of the most beautiful dulcimer I have ever seen or heard in my life.  I could use every superlative term of greatness in the dictionary to describe it, so I best not get going that way or I'll be typing all day!  All I have to say is, I hope you took a photograph of it for your portfolio.  I really think you outdid yourself this time, although I know that all of your instruments are splendid. I'm just thrilled that one of them is now mine.
 
The thing I most wanted a hammer dulcimer for was the ease of play, and it's so true.  Right out of the case and onto the stand, I was able to play tunes, though I have never touched one of these instruments before.  My first tune was the classic, "Doe, a Deer", just to get my bearings.  Then I played "Amazing Grace", and then I played "Will the Circle Be Unbroken".  I played the first tune on both sides of the treble bridge, but the latter two all on the right side of it, completely by ear, and I was able to remember the positions of the notes and play with very few errors after just a couple times through each song. What can be easier than that!
 
Most certainly, this is going to be a journey of musical joy for me.  I thank you so very, very much for creating this lovely work of art.  It is everything that I imagined it would be, and more.  Thank you for sending me on this new and exciting adventure.
 
Most Sincerely,
a VERY satisfied customer,
Linda
10/19/18/9 Linear Chromatic

My dulcimer is fantastic! I've been playing piano music - with lots of mistakes - and will continue with lots of mistakes until I get my string distances right and where the strings are. But playing piano music with a dulcimer! Wow! AND it stays in tune - I just fine tune it but not everyday and not every string - some of the frustration of my old one was tuning - even with replacing all the strings - it needed constant tuning - it was only 2 octaves so when I made the decision to get a new one I knew what I wanted and I must say that every single thing I wanted I have found in this dulcimer you made for me. If anyone ever wants to contact me about it - please feel free to pass on my email. I am happy to discuss it. I would say that the traditional players - the ones that don't really read music and play only by hammer patterns may find it totally frustrating at first because the chording patterns will not be the same. But I am thrilled with it and everyday I find something new and wonderful when I am playing.

thank you so very much!

Sincerely Pam

Three months later

Hi James

Just a quick note - thank you so much for my dulcimer - it is awesome - now that I have gotten to know my dulcimer - I feel that the instrument is nothing short than a work of genius! Once I learned where everything is - you can play most celtic/simple tunes in three different keys with the same hammering patterns - you just move it up or down the middle bridge. So once you learn a tune its very easy to just transpose the hammer pattern into a different key. Three different keys can pretty much take into account a variety of instruments and voices. Its pretty great when someone asks - can you play that in a different key and can immediately do the tune!


The piezo pickup has been excellent - I can hook it up to my tuner - and get perfection - and I can hook it up to my basic studio equipment and record fairly decent quality - without spending a small fortune on expensive recording equipment or sound proofing a room. Total quality for money! I've yet to hook it up to an amplifier but I feel certain that it would work easily with a micro cube.

Thanks again for the most incredible music experience - hope to eventually send you some MP3 of some of my stuff that Ive been playing on my dulcimer. I totally LOVE it and have yet to discover anything I don't like!

cheers
Pam (in Great Britain)


10/19/18/9 Linear Chromatic

Hi, James --

The blessed event happened today! (The UPS guy wanted to know what kind of bicycle it was).

What a beautiful instrument. Thank you so much for your creativity and craftsmanship. I think the tulipwood and bubinga complement each other and the redwood very well. The ebony bridges and trim add a stunning effect -- thanks for that suggestion.

Chris (the wife) said, "Wow, that's a humdinger -- or a dinghummer -- or a humming dulcimer -- or...." I haven't seen her that impressed since the Rembrandt exhibit. Again, thanks. #847 is more than I dreamed about!

Larry



Mountain Dulcimer

James:
The dulcimer arrived today. (I can't quite say "my" dulcimer.... Can you never fully own something which another person has personally and painstakingly handcrafted?) I've only ever seen pictures of dulcimers, none of which fully prepared me for the real thing.... It's so beautiful! I'm almost afraid to touch it -- my hands have actually been shaking a bit; but I've spent a lot of time staring at it. So beautiful!!

I'll keep you updated as I learn to play this instrument. I'll also keep following your web site! Eventually, although it will have to wait for a year or so, I would like to learn the hammer dulcimer as well. When that day comes, I'll know where to find you!

Thank you again for creating this instrument for me! I'm so looking forward to getting down to work!!

Ruth


Zither

Dear James Jones Instruments:

I'm sure you have heard this hundreds, if not thousands of times. The zither from your shop arrived the other day. It is so beautiful and so perfect I could hardly believe it! My family, who thinks I'm a little nutty, has, at my request for a gift, hunted for a zither for me for years. They have found a few expensive, inferior ones that simply would not do.

When the internet came to my town (tiny town in Central Texas), my very first "search" was for zithers. That's how I found you. The dear lady at your shop who took my order was patient beyond belief explaining the kinds of woods and colors. Well, now this wonderful instrument is here! WOW! I feel like it was made just for me by someone who really, really knows the kinds of things I like.

By the way, I've only just seen it and played on it once. My mother (whose present it is) has insisted I return it to her to wrap for my birthday. Thank goodness. That's TOMORROW!

Many, many thanks for keeping excellent craftsmanship alive. I love the wood, I love the sound, I love the smell, I love the quality. It is perfect. Thank you so much!

SDeen


Zither

Hi James,

I received my Zither yesterday. The quality of workmanship is wonderful. Immediately my kids understood that it was NOT a toy, because of the beauty of the wood and quality of work. I tuned the instrument, and within minutes we were all playing the song sheets included in our order. We spent the next several hours passing the instrument around and waiting our turns to play next.

Thank you very much for sharing your rare talents with the world. In time, we'll be back to order more instruments.

Thanks again,

Cynthia