To determine the best dulcimer we considered the following features: materials, strings, accessories, and price. A quality dulcimer should be made of hardwood so that it’s durable. We know that some of the most popular dulcimers are of the four-string variety but can also vary widely in pricing. And finally, we considered additional accessories like a pick or noter to help justify the cost.
After considering all of the above, we nominated the Roosebeck Grace Mountain Dulcimer as our Top Pick. This popular dulcimer is of professional quality and is made from sheesham and spruce hardwood. We also liked that this choice came with a pick, noter, and a drawstring bag. Keep reading to learn more about the rest of our top picks.
Top 3 Best Dulcimers
#1 Roosebeck Grace Mountain Dulcimer
Award: TOP PICK
WHY WE LIKE IT: A professional dulcimer made from sturdy sheesham and spruce hardwood with four strings, and comes with a pick, noter, and drawstring bag.
If you’re concerned about quality as you shop for a dulcimer, we recommend the Rooseback Grace Mountain dulcimer. This professional dulcimer is constructed of sheesham and spruce hardwoods. While the soundboard is made from spruce, the rest of the body is made of sheesham. You’ll like the four classic f-hole openings and the four mechanical geared right angle tuners too.
This four-string dulcimer has two melody strings, one middle string, and one bass drone strings. Roosebeck recommends that you use the DAD method to tune this dulcimer. The vaulted fret board results in a lighter construction that makes this instrument easier to play with better soundboard vibration. We also like that this dulcimer comes with a pick, noter, drawstring bag, and owner’s manual. You may also want to add the best quintos to your instruments.
#2 Seagull Merlin Mahogany SG Dulcimer Guitar
Award: HONORABLE MENTION
WHY WE LIKE IT: A dulcimer guitar with a design that’s easy to re-string thanks to the drive-through neck construction means this option has the best dulcimer strings.
If you’re not a purist or are thinking of transitioning to the dulcimer after having mastered the guitar, then this dulcimer guitar from Seagull Merlin is a great choice. We like that it features a solid mahogany top that’s combined with rock maple in the string-through body, neck, and drive-through neck design.
Specifically, the string-through body means that the strings are guided through the instrument body — similar to many electric guitars. This is why we think this option has some of the best dulcimer strings. As a result, this makes restringing your dulcimer easier. The Seagull Merlin dulcimer is a great option for professionals and serious enthusiasts. The best wood blocks will add some good depth to your music too when not playing music on the best record players and turntables.
#3 Applecreek ACD100 Dulcimer
Award: BEST BUDGET
WHY WE LIKE IT: A great lightweight Applecreek dulcimer made from spruce and maple that’s perfect for beginners.
The Applecreek dulcimer is a dulcimer for beginners for a variety of reasons. Of course, the first reason is that it’s the most affordable option in our guide. And if you’re just starting, it’s usually not a good idea to invest in the most expensive option before you’ve gotten a feel for the instrument and decided if it’s for you. But we also like the clean design and maple-spruce construction. The neck and fingerboard are made from maple while the body is constructed of laminated spruce.
Plus this is one of the lightest options in our guide, weighing in at just one pound. The four-string instrument is a great beginner dulcimer because it comes with a pick and noter to help you get started. You’ll also like that it creates a bright sound. You can also read about the best xylophone and the best chimes.
How We Decided
Dulcimers are a classic instrument that are also a part of American folk traditions. But you might not know what to look for when you shop for this instrument. To create our guide, we considered the following — materials, strings, accessories, and price. All of the dulcimers in our guide are four-string models. This is great for experienced and beginning players.
Likewise, all of the dulcimers in our guide are made from hardwood — a preferred option that improves durability. Spruce and maple are the two most popular hardwoods in our guide. Both our Top Pick and Best Budget include spruce in the construction while maple is included in our Honorable Mention and Best Budget too.
If you’re concerned about struggling with restringing your dulcimer, then our Honorable Mention might be your best choice. While it’s the only dulcimer guitar in our guide, it features a string-through body for one of the easiest restringing experiences.
Dulcimers can come in a wide range of prices, but we’ve focused on a narrow range that is ideal for beginners who aren’t ready to invest in a more expensive model, as well as options with rich construction that are still affordable. Likewise, we also looked at accessories, since this can enhance the value for your money. All of our recommendations come with a pick and noter.
Best Dulcimer Buyer’s Guide
The Most Important Factors to Consider
There are a variety of dulcimer options. While these tend to be handcrafted as opposed to mass-manufactured, there are a few main types you’re most likely to encounter as you shop for one. The most common dulcimers include the hammered dulcimer, fretted with three or four strings (including Appalachian — or mountain —, banjo, and resonator), as well as bowed and electric dulcimers.
The type of material used to make your dulcimer is going to directly impact the pitch of your instrument’s sound. The best woods are known as “tonewood” because instrument manufacturers or craftsmen know that specific types of wood are ideal for enhancing the sounds created by the dulcimer. Often a range of woods is strategically placed within one instrument to create the best compliment of sounds and tones. For optimal sound, look for dulcimers made from hardwoods such as spruce, cedar, walnut, maple, cherry, walnut, koa, and maple.
Because of a dulcimer’s construction, you’re going to want a hardwood exterior. This is because the way you play it requires constant contact with the fretboard. Softer woods may get damaged quickly if you’re an avid player.
This is a factor that will make a big difference when it’s time to change the strings on your dulcimer or. While pegheads can be flat or scrolled, most dulcimer players will agree that flat pegheads are easier to manipulate when you change the strings on your instrument.
Considering that this is the part of a dulcimer that you’ll be using to create notes, this is an integral feature. You’ll want to ensure that the frets are placed properly in their corresponding slots, don’t have any rough edges, and are all at the same depth.
Strings are also an essential part of a dulcimer. So, you’ll need to consider the length, the total number of strings, and their spacing. But with spacing, you’ll need to check not just how close the strings are to each other, but how much space is between the strings and the fingerboard.
Who makes the best dulcimer?
This is going to depend on your proficiency level with a dulcimer, and whether you’re looking for an occasional instrument versus something designed for professional play. But in our guide, we selected the Roosebeck Grace Mountain Dulcimer as our Top Pick. This is a great option that’s professional quality and made from sheesham and spruce hardwood.
Is the dulcimer easy to learn?
If you’ve ever thought about learning to play the guitar, then the dulcimer is similar in that you must learn to manipulate the strings to create music. Many people feel that the dulcimer is easier to play because many versions like the mountain dulcimer only have three strings and the strings aren’t as difficult to push down as with a guitar.
What are the different types of dulcimers?
There are three main sizes of dulcimers that are the most common options: standard, dulcimer, and bass. The dulcimette is an octave-higher dulcimer while the bass is an octave-lower dulcimer.
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