All Dusty Strings dulcimers are built with the same high-quality hardware and exacting standards. For more detailed information on the differences between models, try our Dulcimer Finder, look at our detailed comparison chart, or give us a call!
Laminated wood is another word for plywood, which is made of multiple thin layers of wood glued together to form a panel. In middle and lower priced instruments, plywood is often used because it saves time over working with solid wood. It is a strong and durable material and tends to be less susceptible to changes in temperature and humidity. When made well, plywood instruments sound quite nice, although a comparable instrument made of solid wood would typically have more resonance, clarity, depth and richness of tone. We use the highest grade of plywood available.
The piano dulcimer features a unique tuning scheme with half-step intervals across the bridge and two bridge markers on each course of strings. White bridge markers correspond with the white keys on a piano, or C major scale, and black markers show the sharps and flats. This arrangement provides a completely chromatic instrument in a compact frame. It is an immediately familiar pattern to people with a piano background, and is great for any experienced musician, composer or pianist who wants the dulcimer sound and can do his or her own arranging.
This is by far the most common tuning scheme used for the hammered dulcimer. It is called "fifth-interval" because the treble bridge is positioned such that the note on the left side of the bridge is a perfect fifth above the note on the right. Similarly, each note on the right side of the treble bridge is a fifth interval higher than the adjacent note below it on the bass bridge.
The instrument is tuned in major scale sequences, so you can easily play in different major keys by moving to different scale groupings on the instrument. The scales available on most dulcimers with the traditional tuning are D, G, C, F, A, and their relative minors.
The tuning scheme we use on our Chromatic Series instruments is a variation on the traditional fifth-interval tuning. The chromatic notes either replace duplicated notes or are added by means of new bridges. Players accustomed to the traditional fifth-interval scheme usually have little difficulty adapting to this style of chromatic tuning.
A chromatic instrument allows for a somewhat wider range of musical styles, including classical, ragtime, blues, jazz and certain styles of ethnic music.
12/11 dulcimers have 12 courses of strings on the treble bridge and 11 courses on the bass bridge. The Prelude and Apprentice have soundboards and backs of laminated birch; the only difference between them is the color. The D10 is made of all solid wood.
16/15 dulcimers have 16 courses of strings on the treble bridge and 15 courses on the bass bridge. The Overture has a soundboard and back of laminated birch. The D45 is made of all solid wood.
The PD40 is all solid wood and has a non-traditional tuning scheme that mimics the black and white keys on a piano.
Our Chromatic series dulcimers use a variation on the traditional 5th-interval tuning scheme with added or substituted chromatic notes. They are all solid wood with a more sophisticated internal bracing system, which produces unparallelled resonance, clarity and depth of tone.