The Hammered Dulcimer

hammered dulcimer

hammered dulcimer

To most modern-day musicians, the hammered dulcimer is a new and unfamiliar instrument. It is a multi percussion-stringed instrument with a range of up to three octaves. It typically consists of strings stretched over a rectangular or trapezoidal resonant sound board. The dulcimer has two long bridges namely, a bass bridge near the right and a treble bridge on the left side. There are usually 23 or more pairs of string stretched across these bridges in such a way that you can play notes by tapping each pair of strings (called a “course”) near the bridges. The bass bridge holds up bass strings, which are played to the left of the bridge. The treble strings can be played on either side of the treble bridge but playing them on the left side gives a note, a fifth higher than playing them on the right of the bridge. The instrument is played with two light-weight beaters called hammers (mallets) that are shaped like long-handled spoons and are used to strike the strings.

 

Product Comparative Analysis:

Every dulcimer has its own unique sound depending on the brand and type, so choosing one that is ideal is essential for the playing you want to do. There are many considerations to keep in mind when choosing the best dulcimer to play. Following are a few:

  • Quality of wood
  • Shape of the dulcimer
  • Ease of use
  • High-quality tuners
  • Soundboard
  • Sustain (how long the notes ring after they are struck)

The hammered dulcimer products in review today are of three different and renowned brands. The dulcimers in review include Sapelli Pioneer Hammered Dulcimer from MasterWorks, Rosewood Hammered Dulcimer from Roosebeck, and Persian Hammered Santoor from SalaMuzik.

 

Master Works “Sapelli Pioneer Package”

Master Works Sapelli Pioneer Package

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quality: 15 treble and 14 bass courses
Make: Ash endrails, Harrison Rose inlays, Exotic Hardwood (Brown Brazilian Ebony) bridges and Sapele soundboard
Strings Material: brass, steel
Accessories included: Instrument, light-weight case, sit-down x-brace stand, student hammers, electronic tuner, tuning wrench, and an “Understanding and Fine Tuning” booklet

What musicians who purchased this product thought:

  • Beautiful instrument with superb sound. Quality construction.
  • It arrived already in tune. Even the stand is a work of art.
  • The tone is incredible, received it with a hand-written note and 2 CDs.
  • Takes only around 10 to 15 minutes to set up and to start playing for hours. Very easy to play, and has an extremely well-built wood body.
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Roosebeck Hammered Dulcimer

Roosebeck Hammered Dulcimer, 10/9 Rosewood

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quality: 10 treble and 9 bass courses
Make: Indian Rosewood
Strings Material: brass, steel
Accessories included: One pair of two-sided dulcimer hammers have a leather pad on one side. Both hammers are lacewood with rosewood trim inclusive of a tuning tool and drawstring bag

What musicians who purchased this product thought:

  • Tuning takes up some time but sounds great once tuned.
  • Ideally crafted with the strings built into the body, allowing them to stay stronger for longer without needing a replacement right away.
  • Beautifully built with rosewood and excellent quality
  • Fast shipping and comes with an instruction manual for tuning the instrument.
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Persian Quality Santoor Dulcimer

SalaMuzik Persian Quality Santoor Dulcimer

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quality: 10 treble and 9 bass courses
Make: Persian 9 bridge (kharak) Santoor, walnut wood
Strings Material: brass, steel
Accessories included: Hard case, two extra replacement strings, two hammers and a tuning wrench

What musicians who purchased this product thought:

  • Has a distinctive sound, like a small harpsichord.
  • Cheap for the value that you get from other dulcimers. Exceeded expectations for the price paid.
  • The feel and look is of a good quality instrument.
  • Tuning took a lot of time; the bridge must be adjusted to get the perfect octave on each side.
  • The acoustic chamber sounds wonderful, almost like a giant cave in a very small space. No documentation provided along with the instrument.
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The Final Verdict

Dulcimers offer a beautiful, calming sound but if you do not have the right one then you may sound like you are riding the wrong bandwagon. Musicians in specific, are very pecky in their choices of instruments therefore which dulcimer to buy would always be a choice of taste. The three dulcimers in question without doubt are unique and exhibit diverse traits. The Persian Walnut Wood Santoor and Roosebeck Hammered Dulcimer both have 10/9 bridges for treble and bass course respectively, whereas the Sapelli Pioneer Hammered Dulcimer has 15/14 bridges for treble and bass course. 15/14 is a good, all-around size for most dulcimer music as it covers a range of 3 octaves whereas any other dulcimer with a size lower than 15/14 for example 12/11, 10/9, etc. covers only 2-1/2 octaves, also considered as a “student” dulcimer. Another important difference to be noted in the mentioned hammered dulcimers is the amount of sustain. The Master Works hammered dulcimers have a comparatively long sustain, which is excellent for full-sounding slow-to-medium tempo music (e.g. new age, classical). For folks who preferably like to play fast or with a band (contra dance music) should opt for instruments with less sustain. Though all three products have almost the same quantity of accessories alongside the dulcimers with a few hits and misses, however, the Masterworks Hammered Dulcimer tops the pricelist by having a price tag of $799 exclusive of the extra $75 shipping charge. The Persian Santoor and Roosebeck Dulcimer are roughly equal in quality however the Persian Santoor manufacturer pledges a ‘lifetime warranty’ for the instruments it produces. Also, acquiring a dulcimer at such a throw away price of $299 is a win-win.

As the saying goes the higher the price the better the quality and miscellaneous. Nonetheless, fact be told premium pricing is merely a marketing strategy by manufacturers to manipulate buyers’ perception of product quality. Thus, it is recommended that musicians who don’t want to burn holes in their pockets and are a novice at playing the instrument should begin by investing in the dulcimers with the lowest price tag and move up the ladder as they keep excelling their dulcimer skills.