Choosing a Dulcimer

The important thing is to listen to the instrument with your ear as well as your heart. Which sound touches you most? Is it the one with the full, warm sound with the notes blending together, the one with the clear tone with the notes standing out distinctly from each other, the one that reminds you of the old times when there were only crank-up record players? What balance of high and low tones suits you?

The important thing is that it pleases you, whether you can put this into words or not.

The A Series Click for Full Information and Pricing  

The T Series Click for Full Information and Pricing

The W Series
Click for Full Information and Pricing

The S Series Click for Full Information and Pricing


The Courting Dulcimer Click for Full Information and Pricing


The A, T and W-Models:

These dulcimers are highly responsive instruments with a clear, warm tone that is a joy to hear and to play. They invite your fingers to bring them to life with a light touch and to explore where they will take you. They are equally at home with lullabies, dance tunes or ballads. The color of their sound varies with the choice of wood.

The A and T Models date back to the first instruments that I built in 1968. They have developed along with the increasing technical mastery of dedicated dulcimer players over the years.

The A-Model has a well balanced tone.

The T-Model tends to have a little more volume and base than other models.

The W-Model was designed for Richard Scholtz to be played up on its side. It tends to have slightly less sustain while still producing a lively sound. It comes in a four or six string version.

The S-Model is a smaller instrument with a clear tone and easy action. It is designed close to the old traditional instruments in its construction while at the same time meeting the contemporary sound expectations. It has a 26.8” / 68 cm scale.

General Notes

All my dulcimers come with the 6½ fret (unless you request otherwise), wide neck, and geared tuning pegs.

Standard models have a 1½ ” wide neck and can be set up for either three string or four separated string playing.

Traditional models have a 1¼” wide neck and are set up for three string playing with the melody string being doubled up (The string closest to you.), so the melody stands out more in relation to the drone strings.

Custom Instruments: I build custom instruments to provide different sound qualities and a wider selection of woods, sound holes, neck widths, inlay and artwork to meet individual preferences and requirements.

Consider the following prior to consulting with me:

  • Custom fretting can be accommodated easily.

  • The use of laminated woods on the peg head, neck, tailpiece and inlay change the look more than the sound. The same is true of different sound hole designs.

  • Individually adjusted bridges are available on the A, T and W Models for players who want to accommodate string gauges other than those for which the instrument was set up, or who want to have a very fine adjustment available.

  • Tops: The choice of woods for the top of the instrument produces quite different sound characteristics.

    • Cedar tops have a crisp, clear sound with each note standing out on its own.

    • Spruce tops have a ringing bell-like sound, with the notes somewhat blending together.

    • Butternut tops have a strong, clear response throughout the whole range, with a connected sound.

    • Mahogany tops give a warm sound with the notes blending together to give the tone a full, warm quality, especially when combined with a mahogany back.

    Backs: The choice of woods for the back of the instrument has a more subtle effect on the sound quality of the dulcimer.

    • Black walnut backs give an even, strong bass response with a clear treble range.

    • Cherry backs give an even spread of tone strength.

    • Maple backs emphasize the high notes and overtones.

    • Mahogany backs give a warm sound with the notes blending together to give the tone a full, warm quality.

  • Price of custom work: There is no price difference if you are substituting any of the above woods for the standard option, or if you want your instrument strung up left handed. If you have special requirements, I will be glad to discuss them with you and give you a price estimate.

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