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Guide to Dulcimers

Dulcimer : What is it?

Dulcimers

A dulcimer is a string instrument made up of a wooden trapezoidal, hourglass, or teardrop body and at least four strings. It is plucked by hand or struck by a mallet to produce a bright, ringing sound. It is played on the lap or set in front of the player.

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Types of Dulcimers

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Kinds of Dulcimers include the following:

Standard dulcimer

  • A standard dulcimer is made of solid birch and cedar.
  • It is also called an Appalachian dulcimer.
  • It measures 35 inches in length.
  • It is ideal for student players.


Custom dulcimer


  • A custom dulcimer comes in different shapes commonly hourglass and teardrop.
  • It is tuned an octave higher than the standard dulcimer.
  • It produces a ringing and bright sound.


Hammered dulcimer

  • A hammered dulcimer can be made of solid or carved rosewood.
  • The less expensive model is usually made of mahogany, walnut, and maple.
  • It has a rod-supported soundboard for improved tone and strength.
  • It has a movable bridge.
  • It is has 46 to 72 strings and nine to 12 right and left courses.
  • It plays in the keys F, C, G, D, and A in two to three octaves.


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Choosing Dulcimers (Buying tips)

Number of hammered string courses: If you want a hammered dulcimer, choose a standard 12/11 one if you are a beginner. As you get better, you can move up to a 15/14 hammered dulcimer with an extra bottom and top notes.

Buy or build:
If you are a do-it-yourself kind of person, consider getting a dulcimer kit and building your own. However, be sure to ask help from people who have had experience in building one. For convenience, quality and accuracy, choose a ready-made dulcimer.

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