He makes dulcimers and he plays dulcimers. He's accomplished at both after 40 years of practice. Expert Mark Edelman can teach beginners the basics in two minutes.
(WBIR-Gatlinburg) It's a musical instrument with a sound you'll never forget. The sweet music of the mountain dulcimer.
It takes a steady hand and an artist's eye to create the musical instrument.
What was once known as a hog fiddle is now called a dulcimer.
"It's actually a descriptive word. A combination of Greek and Latin words meaning sweet melody," Mark Edelman said.
He knows that sweet melody. He's started playing the dulcimer 4 decades ago, about the same time he started making them.
"It's always a neat challenge to see what you can come up with from a piece of wood," he said.
He spends 18 to 20 hours transforming pieces of wood into musical instruments to sell at his shop in Gatlinburg: Smoky Mountain Dulcimers.
He calls a display of dulcimers in his shop his museum.
"Some are good and actually some of them are really horrible but in a museum you need a little bit of everything I think," he said.
Mark Edelman makes a point of making dulcimers that not only look beautiful but also sound beautiful.
He explained that dulcimers come in different shapes.
"The traditional hourglass is fuller and what I deem to be a little more mountainy, it's twangy sounding. The teardrop shape is kind of a modern slant on the sound of the dulcimer, giving it a little more of a guitar like warmth," he said.
Dulcimers are made of different types of wood: cherry, maple, sassafras, butternut, sycamore, and more.
He lets the instruments sell themselves, often after a quick lesson in his shop.
"My claim to fame is I'm the world's best two minute teacher based on my three minutes of patience with anyone," he said.
He won't choose which one he likes more, making them or playing them.
"If you spent eight hours a day or ten hours a day doing the same thing, it gets old," he said.
It's an old instrument with a mountain sound that is part of Appalachia and a part of Mark Edelman.