It would seem like we have been fortunate enough to witness the revival of the dulcimer. At a time, a hammered dulcimer wasn’t in high demand as it is now.
But today, there are quality dulcimer builders all around. In fact, you can even build your own with the kits made available both in music shops and online stores.
If you’re new to the dulcimer or making a comeback, your choices are vast and understandably confusing. And that’s why we’ve put up this review to help you make the best choice for you.
We’ve got our 8 favorite hammered dulcimers here. We’ve also got a buying guide prepared to help you narrow your options and settle on the ideal instrument for you. We haven’t got much so time, so without further ado, let’s jump in on this.
Top 8 Best Hammered Dulcimer Reviews
1 Master Works “Sapelli Pioneer Package” Hammer Dulcimer
The Master Works Sapelli Pioneer Package Hammer Dulcimer is an excellent option for a beginner. As the name indicates, this is a pioneer package, so it is targeted at the average beginner. Check out all the reasons this hammer dulcimer works for a beginner.
Firstly, it is within reach for most beginners especially when compared to other dulcimers that usually come with a high price tag. But besides price tag, there are other reasons this should be your first dulcimer.
It comes with a high quality craftsmanship which means that it produces quality sounds. Plus this is a dulcimer that will grow with you. As your skills improve, you’re going to need an instrument of a higher grade. The Sapelli Pioneer Package makes a fine choice in that respect too.
Now to the parts of this instrument…
The bridges come made of hardwood of the exotic kind. The inlay, on the other hand, is made of Harrison rose while the endrails is made of ash. Also, this dulcimer comes with brass/steel strings, with a total number of 14 bass courses and 15 treble ones.
We are pretty confident in the brand behind this dulcimer especially because it boasts more than 30 years of experience making dulcimers. So, opting for a dulcimer from Master Works can hardly go wrong.
The Pioneer Package comes with student hammers, an x-brace stand, plus an electronic tuner and tuning wrench. There’s also a booklet here which will help your understand your new dulcimer, including how to fine-tune it.
There’s also a case to help you protect the dulcimer while in transit. Of course, we can’t end this review without mentioning that this dulcimer is extremely beautiful. Totally love!
2 Persian Professional Sadeghi Goldar Santoor, Santur Dulcimer
There are two different types of Santoor which are the Persian and the Indian. If you are familiar with Santoor, you’ll be able to tell both kinds apart. Well, even if you can’t that’s unimportant right now. What we have here is the Persian version.
Looking at this dulcimer reveals something. This is a highly detailed instrument. And it tells us that though this was made in our days, it’s still pretty much old school. We love the way the makers of this dulcimers stuck to the old way of making traditional Santoors. So, you can rest assured of sound quality here.
Like the typical old school Santoor, this comes in a trapeze-like shape. It is extremely beautiful and comes with about 72 strings for the user to play on.
The wood of this instrument comes in a gorgeous finish and all kinds of delicate decorations scattered around the dulcimer. Well, Persians are naturally into those kinds of things, you know details, décor and all. So, creating such stunning instruments doesn’t come as a surprise. You’ll be proud of this piece.
The Sadeghi Goldar Santoor is usable by both professionals and beginners. It’s within reach for many beginners and still high quality enough to be playable by professionals.
What’s in the package? Of course, you get the dulcimers. But in addition, you also get some extra pairs of strings, two extra hammers, and a tuning wrench. Of course there’s a hard case included as well which makes this dulcimer super safe for transport and storage.
Everything you need to begin playing and enjoying your dulcimer comes in this super awesome package. Check it out, why don’t you?
3 Master Works Pioneer Package 15-14 Hammered Dulcimer
Also from the masters of the business, here’s another excellent dulcimer for the beginner. It is a pioneer package which means that it comes with everything you’ll need to kick start your dulcimer playing.
We don’t expect anything less than quality here considering the brand in question. It is beautiful with a quality of craftsmanship that could almost move a grown adult to tears. It’s Master Works after all.
The only difference between this dulcimer and the other Master Works dulcimer we reviewed is the soundboard. The first came with a Sapelli soundboard, this does not. However, don’t get it twisted, this remains an excellent instrument.
The top and back of this instrument is made of the same material which is Finland Birch. It’s stained in brown and black, and then there are other elements that come in their natural color. With this beautiful color contrast this dulcimer really presents a super stunning look.
But besides looks, the sound of this dulcimer is also exceptional. Those looking to play something of exceptional, pro-level quality will love this dulcimer. It’s a great instrument to pick if you want to build proper playing skills.
As you know, Master Works is one of the best in the business and once again they’ve proved that with this dulcimer. They’ve made another impressive dulcimer especially targeted at the novice player. And as usual, they’ve also included everything they’ll need to learn to play right out of the box.
Lastly, this instrument also comes with a case to ensure that you protect your investment. Your dulcimer will remain in mint condition whether you travel with it or just use it in your parlor.
4 Roosebeck 16/15 Hammered Dulcimer
The Roosebeck 16/15 Hammered dulcimer is a beautiful instrument. But you know the best part? It’s a middle range dulcimer and is therefore more accessible to most dulcimer buyers.
The body is made of Sheesham, and it comes with an opening behind which actually has a practical use, it turns out. The makers included the hole behind to give the instrument a handle to carry this dulcimer with. So, yes transporting this dulcimer will be easy thanks to the nifty inclusion of this back hole.
Like dulcimers naturally are, this makes a beautiful instrument especially with its beautiful colors. It also comes with a couple of gorgeous decorations around the sound holes as well. You’ll find these pretty rosettes in the traditional leaf and wine pattern. It’s just so much beauty.
The Roosebeck is one of the oldest in the market, so you can probably understand why it looks so traditional… And stunning if we might add…
This dulcimer does not come alone, of course. There are other inclusions which make this playable immediately you receive the package.
When you order this you get the dulcimer as well as a pair of hammers. The hammers also come with pads which are made from leather on either side. It’s a thoughtful construction that makes it easy to also create softer sounds when you want.
You also get a tuning tool too so that you can always keep your instrument in tune. Then there’s a drawstring bag to help conveniently keep your dulcimer for safekeeping and transport.
Finally, we’ll end with one feature we absolutely love about this instrument. All the bridges in this dulcimer are color coded, and it’s not just for aesthetics. It actually increases the playability of this dulcimer, especially for beginners who are still learning the ropes.
5 Master Works Student 12-11 Hammer Dulcimer
Master Works describes this as its student dulcimer and that is quite obvious, especially from the price. It’s one of the most affordable dulcimers you can get from this brand. And this confirms to you that the brand specially made this for those of a lower earning power.
So, if you can’t afford the sub-$1000 dulcimers, or you simply don’t feel it’s wise to invest so much in a hobby at first blush, here’s your guy. It’s within the budget category but from an elite brand all the same.
It’s obvious that the brand made a lot of cost cuts here and there. But this is what makes the dulcimer easily accessible to anyone at all. From those who wish to own the instrument to those who to learn to play.
We love the simple approach here too. Everything is kept awfully minimalistic. However, don’t read that wrong. There’s nothing minimalistic about the quality of this instrument.
We believe Master Works understands that it has a name to protect. So rest assured that budget or not, you’re going to love the sound of your dulcimer. Again, there was no sound compromise here. We feel it’s necessary to repeat that.
Even more, we love the fact that this is a super playable instrument. Right out of the box, you can begin playing all kinds of songs for your pleasure. And even movices who have never tried playing a dulcimer before will definitely love the high playability of the Student Hammered Dulcimer.
Thinking of a unique gift for that musical genius in your family but haven’t got bucks to spare? Try this fantastic dulcimer.
6 Economy Class Persian Santoor Dulcimer
Have you been looking to learn to play a Santoor? Is budget a hindering factor for you? Then your solution just arrived and it’s called the Economy Class Persian Santoor Dulcimer. It’s a lovely dulcimer idea especially for Santoor lovers on a budget.
But although this is affordable, it still comes with pretty interesting, quality features that would definitely make you happy.
First of all, with this dulcimer, you get additional accessories. For instance, there’s a hard case to keep your dulcimer in good shape for as long as. Plus it also makes this a perfect candidate for travel as well. The hard case makes transport and storage super convenient in such a situation.
Then there are additional strings because, you know, accidents happen. So, if your strings mistakenly break, you need not panic, there’s extra for you. In case you’re asking the extra strings are high quality like the first set the dulcimer comes with.
To ensure that your dulcimer always gives that beautiful sound that made you go and get one in the first place, this comes with a tuning tool. You’ll use this to keep your instrument in tune. And it’s easy to use too.
Of course, this also comes with a pair of hammers. Or what else would you play this with?
And now to looks…. As you well know, dulcimers are known for their aesthetically appealing look. And this does not live below the standard.
The body is made of walnut which is a highly resistant wood type. It’s beautiful, durable and above all, will give your instrument a terrific sound.
Although we might not recommend this for a seasoned player, we’re confident a beginner will love this. It’s charming, plays nicely, but most importantly, it does not bore a hole through anyone’s pocket.
7 Roosebeck Single Strung 10/9 Hammer Dulcimer
Check out this other dulcimer from Roosbeck again. What can we say? The brand does know its stuff. This is a pretty sweet instrument, no doubt. But it’s even sweeter that this is a middle-range instrument. It might not be budget instrument but for those want to make the upgrade, this is a fine choice.
This is made of multi-layered walnut easily showcasing Roosebeck’s knack for precision. Now here’s why we love Roosebeck’s construction choice. A multi-layered walnut gives the instrument sturdiness. So this will take a good beating and remain resistant to wear and tear for as long as possible.
Besides sturdiness, this dulcimer looks really good. The color and design are absolutely gorgeous, and, of course, there are loads of intricate detailing on the dulcimer as well.
The soundboard is made of hardwood and embellished with a beautiful leaf and wine patterned design all around. Also, once again, Roosebeck includes a hole behind the instrument which works as a handle, making the instrument easy to carry around.
And how’s the sound? Really amazing too… And, of course, we didn’t expect anything less from Roosebeck.
Getting all these features at such a decent price is the biggest reason we’re in love with the Roosebeck Single Strung 10/9 Hammer Dulcimer. If you love it, then feel free to go for it.
8 Persian Quality Santoor Santur Dulcimer
And finally on our countdown, we have the Persian Quality Santoor Santur Dulcimer. It’s beautiful, makes melodic sounds, and does not cost an arm and a leg. And then again, this is a Santoor, pretty cool, right?
Santoors are usually known for the wood used to make their bodies. They are also known for their characteristic strings as well. These two factors are what give the Santoor its unique sound.
The Persian Quality Santoor Santur Dulcimer is made from walnut just like the traditional Santoor. So you can be assured that this dulcimer will produce the genuine Santoor sound.
The strings here are brass and steel. And besides producing lovely sounds, they also guarantee you of durability. Even after prolonged use, these strings will remain in top condition that’s for sure.
As for accessories, this instrument comes with a number as usual. There’s the hard case which protects your dulcimer and helps you in transporting the instrument around.
You also get extra strings. Plus, there’s a tuning wrench that helps you keep your dulcimer in tune. Then of course there are also hammers in the package as well to help you play the instrument.
Altogether? Great instrument well worth the price.
Buying Guide For Best Hammered Dulcimer
Choosing the best dulcimer isn’t exactly difficult. Nonetheless, it can be a bit tricky for the uninitiated. Our guide should help you with this, but first…
There Are Dulcimers And There Are “Dulcimer-Shaped” Objects
As dulcimers became more popular especially from the ‘60s, people began to make dulcimer-shaped instruments. So, they looked like dulcimers, were playable, but they ultimately were not dulcimers. If you want to make sure you don’t end up with any of those, then:
- Look out for the soundboard and ensure it’s not cracked or warped.
- Make sure you can actually use the tuning pins to change the pitch of the strings. In order words, the instrument should be tunable.
- Lastly but most importantly, the tuning pins should be able to hold the strings of the instrument in tune. You don’t need something that constantly needs a retuning.
Now let’s check out other criteria to check out when getting a dulcimer.
Soundboard – Floating or Fixed?
The soundboard refers to that piece of wood where the bridge of the dulcimer rests. It transfers vibrations to the rest of the instrument from the strings. In hammered dulcimers, the soundboard comes in two designs: floating and fixed.
In a floating soundboard, the soundboard sits on the bottom part of the instrument known as the box. And when you remove the strings, you can easily lift off this particular kind of soundboard.
As for a fixed soundboard, it does not sit, it’s fixed instead. So you can’t easily remove the soundboard. In fact, you can’t remove the soundboard, period.
In performance, some say the floating soundboard gives a shorter sustain than a fixed soundboard.
Top – Solid Wood or Laminate?
Go for solid wood, it will improve the tone of your instrument, especially as the instrument ages. A laminate top won’t change with time but it will save you some money, though.
Notes/Springs per Course
The size of the dulcimer is another determinant of price. And the number of courses is a determinant of size. A course refers to a set of strings. Most hammered dulcimers usually have between 1 to 4 strings per course.
On a smaller dulcimer, the left bridge will usually come with 13 to 14 strings on the treble. The right bridge, on the other hand, usually has 11 to 12 strings on the bass. This whole setup is usually called a 13/12 or a 12/11.
However, a standard size is a 16/15. A 15/14 is also standard. So, altogether, you get about 3 octaves of keys D and E.
There are also certain dulcimers which come with adjustable bridges up in the higher register. Such dulcimers are full chromatic for a longer range and are referred to as chromatic dulcimers.
Also, some instruments come with more than 4 octaves. This is due to their larger body size and bass bridges which can register real low notes.
Is your dulcimer going to be just a parlor instrument or something you’re going to be traveling around with? Then think small, because, naturally, the larger the dulcimer, the heavier it will be.
In addition to the factors we’ve discussed, there are other factors you’ll need to consider when choosing a dulcimer. They include the tuning scheme, string spacing, sustain, and tone.
Our winner? The Master Works “Sapelli Pioneer Package” Hammer Dulcimer. It’s made by the masters of the business themselves, Master Works. And as usual, we’ve come to expect nothing short of quality.
The craftsmanship here is obviously high quality. Plus, it’s really playable which makes it a great instrument for a beginner. The sound also blows our mind as well. Yes, it is a tad bit pricey. But considering all the features here, we will advise you to go for it if you can afford it.