Carl Gotzmer has been designing and handcrafting musical instruments for more than 50 years. While attending college, he built clavichords and banjos, and cut and inlaid pearl by hand for the C.F. Martin guitar company. After attending a lecture on the history of the mountain dulcimer, he decided that was the type of instrument he wanted to build.
Gotzmer, who is self-taught, works from photographs and instrument tracings to reproduce dulcimers from various Appalachian mountain areas. For each new style of instrument, he builds the drying molds to hold the steam-bent sides as well as the building forms and jigs to construct it. His interest extends beyond the early-19th-Century American dulcimer to its predecessors brought by immigrants. He uses solid, aged woods and book matches hand-cut veneers for both for appearance and the instrument’s voice. He hand carves intricate rosettes for sound holes used in some of his instruments and gives each a clear hand-rubbed Danish oil finish.
Gotzmer founded June Apple Dulcimers with his wife, Kathleen, when they married in 1987. Their daughter, Ayden, is their website guru. Gotzmer also builds guitars as special orders and has invented three instruments—the Cellomer, Bouzoukimer, and Dulcillin. Aided by his wife and a handful of apprentices and luthiers, he has made thousands of instruments for customers worldwide, as well as several for the Smithsonian Institution.
The Gotzmers performed together at festivals for many years, and Mrs. Gotzmer was part of the Mill Run Dulcimer Band, which recorded eleven albums as one of the longest-running dulcimer bands in the country. When not inventing instruments, Gotzmer works on other inventions as Chief Scientist for Weapons Technology for the U.S. Navy. After 50-plus years there, he holds 48 patents. The couple lives in Maryland in a reproduction colonial home.
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