Earl Burge Searing, Jr. [Burge] was a talented individual who's life revolved around music and the arts. He was born in Jacksonville Florida and lived in north and central Florida until 1981 when he moved to Stone Mountain, GA. He majored in Music while attending University of Florida, Stetson University, and he obtained his Masters of Music from Florida State University . Piano was his main instrument but he also mastered the clarinet, guitar, bag pipes, mountain dulcimer, hammered dulcimer, celtic harps, and many more unusual instruments. He was a member of the Atlanta Pipe Band in the early 1980s. He was an accomplished sketch artist and painter, and he built furniture and wooden boats just for fun. He also enjoyed fly fishing, stamp collecting, and model railroading. He studied and preferred classical and traditional music until later in life when he developed a taste for country music.
In 1973 he began teaching Piano and Music Theory at Jacksonville University. In 1981 his wife had the opportunity to advance her career by moving to Atlanta. So they packed up the family and moved to Stone Mountain. Initially Burge worked at retail jobs and a few years for the Dekalb Library system. Around 1985 he was given a mountain ducimer kit. He enjoyed building it and learning to play it. This eventually led him to build a better model for himself, which became the basis of his own business building dulcimers and other unusual wooden instruments.
He opened his shop "Hand Crafted Dulcimers" in 1986 in a barn in back of Stone Mountain Village after taking his product to a couple of fairs and getting very positive feedback. He initially built Mountain dulcimers made in a variety of woods, then added Hammered Dulcimers to his inventory. Over time he built Celtic Harps, Psaltrys, Courting Dulcimers, Banjos, and even some custom instruments. All of his instruments contain his business card with his signature below a sound hole. You can get the age of the instrument from the serial number on the card. The first 4 digits are the month and year. The next few digits generally indicate the #of instruments he had made up until that point. If there is a "K" after the serial number that would indicate the instrument was made from a Kit which may have been of his design or another maker. He sometimes assembled kits for clients who found the making of the instruments was beyond thier skills. From the serial numbers I have seen he made more than 1700 instruments but I do not have an actual record of each one.
He worked at his instrument making business until he had a stroke in 2002. The stroke left his right arm paralized, his right leg partially paralized, and his speech slurred. It was no longer feasible for him to use power tools or even to make the short drive to his shop. Over the years he did manage to regain some strength and to repair some of his instruments. His passion turned to model railroad building. He passed away from lung cancer in 2008. He is survived by his sister and his two children.
Note to owners:
Thank you for your purchase of an instrument during Burge's lifetime. His business ended in 2002 and I have no inventory other than my own collection. If you have inherited an instrument or wish to sell one I cannot provide you a value for your instrument. Please search ebay for sold listings to get an idea of current value. I have no parts for repair nor can I recommend anyone for repairs. Search google for Dulcimer repair or for Luthiers in your area. Guitar/instrument shops will sometimes carry strings similar to those used on his dulcimers and harps. I have taken down the instrument registry since some people were being abusive toward me about it.