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.
The D670 is our ultimate chromatic hammered dulcimer. Building on the popularity of the D650, the D670 adds a feature that players have long been yearning for – the ability to play those low, soul-satisfying super bass notes on the right side as well as the left. The addition of the second super bass bridge to the right of the bass bridge puts those notes within reach for any arrangement that incorporates low bass, and it does this without sacrificing the tonal qualities that are so beloved on the D650. In fact, there is a unique stereo-like effect, with the bass notes seeming to emanate from both sides of the instrument.
Working closely with our design partner, Sam Rizzetta, we developed what we’re calling a “dual-density bridge system” to optimize the tonal balance across the range. In the upper ranges, we’re using jatoba, a very dense and articulate South American tonewood, which brings out the clear, ringing bell tones of the high notes. Slightly lighter density Eastern hard maple in the mid and lower ranges facilitates a full, warm, round tone. This combination surrounds the player with a balanced blend of clarity, responsiveness, sparkle and warmth.
The 600 series models have often been called “the grand pianos of the hammered dulcimer world” because of their large range and deep, powerful sound, and this is in part due to their relatively substantial size and mass. While these models are still portable, it takes reasonable strength to carry them. We’ve found it helps to distribute the weight between the shoulder strap and the low hand-grip on the case - and limit your walking distance!
Starting in 2011, we began incorporating carbon fiber into the internal bracing of our Chromatic Series dulcimers, improving upon their existing reputation for excellent tuning stability. With a stiffer frame, the tuning stability has gone from excellent to truly exceptional, a benefit that any dulcimer player will appreciate wholeheartedly.
C600 case available separately.
Dusty Strings Chromatic Series dulcimers are professional-caliber instruments and are widely regarded as being among the finest hammered dulcimers available. However, this does not mean you have to be a professional to play one! As a beginner, you might be amazed at how quickly you make progress on an instrument that sounds fantastic and is well-made and satisfying to play. Regardless of your experience level, we think you’ll find the sophisticated tone and detailed craftsmanship of the Chromatic Series dulcimers to be well worth the investment.
The tuning scheme is a variation of traditional 5th-interval tuning, where the chromatic notes either replace duplicated notes or are added via extra bridges. We’ve found that it’s no different for a beginner to learn on one of our chromatic instruments than it is to learn on a more basic traditional instrument. More advanced players who are accustomed to traditional tuning will find it easy to adapt and will be delighted by the increased versatility of having access to all the sharps and flats. The chromatic capability opens the doors to musical styles such as classical, ragtime, bluegrass, jazz and rock.
Designed in collaboration with Sam Rizzetta, a highly respected inventor, builder and player of hammered dulcimers since the 1960s, these instruments have his signature asymmetrical design, which places the treble bridge perpendicular to the strings for ease of playing. The internal bracing system is more elaborate and sophisticated than our other models and, combined with the all solid wood construction, gives our chromatic dulcimers a resonance, clarity and depth of tone that is unrivaled.
For the ultimate expressive instrument, we highly recommend the optional damper system. Dampers allow the player to stop the strings from ringing by pressing on a foot pedal, and can be used very effectively to support even more nuanced playing, complex arrangements and interesting voicings. The Chromatic Series dulcimers are now being built with pre-drilled and capped damper installation holes, which will streamline the installation of a damper system whenever it is desired.
The single sound hole is decorated with a hand-carved maple leaf insert, a signature feature of our chromatic line. Contrasting solid-wood binding and delicate multi-layered veneers called purfling add a professional finish detail to the edges of the soundboard.
Rich curly maple trim gives a warm and dramatic look.
Dress up your soundhole with the sparkle of abalone inlay
Add a lovely band of abalone inlay around the soundboard.
A black soundboard adds an elegant touch.
Control sustain and add tonal variety with a set of dampers.
The D670 has 4½ octaves of range; the lowest note is the A two octaves and a bit below middle C. It is set up in a 19/18 configuration, meaning there are 19 courses of strings on the treble bridge and 18 courses on the bass bridge. A super-bass bridge on the left and right provides the lower octave.
The overall range is A1 to E6; the chromatic range is B2 to E6.
Superscript numbers indicate octaves (C4 is middle C).
Dots indicate marked courses.
All strings have loop ends.
PB = phosphor bronze.
PBW = phosphor bronze wound.
SSW = stainless steel wound.
Unspecified strings are plain steel wire.
Wire gauges are shown in inches.
Dimensions & Weight
"I absolutely love my new D670! The tonal sound of the new instrument is consistent throughout the entire range. The top part of the range matches the brilliance of the low register. To my ear, the upper register has just the right amount of sparkle; it is crystal clear.
When I received my instrument, it had been shipped across the country and no string was off by more than 5 cents. Amazing! As a professional French horn player, I have a rather low tolerance for an instrument that is out of tune. Previously, I felt the need to tune my dulcimer every day; now, I only tune my D670 once or twice per week. Frequently, many strings are still right on pitch. Hearing that Dusty Strings was [now] using carbon fiber in the structural bracing convinced me that I wanted to upgrade my [older] D600. I have been very impressed with the instrument's ability to hold its pitch and it has been well worth the investment.
Dusty Strings has made remarkable improvements to their already exceptionally fine instruments. I feel like I am playing the hammered dulcimer equivalent of a concert grand piano."
-Mary Lynn Van Deventer (Hillsborough, NC)
"Incredible instrument! Worth the wait. Thank you Ray, Sam and all the Dusty Strings Team. I'm getting to know this incredible D670 and enjoying every second of my time playing with all its potential. I find it easy to reference the right side super bass from the markers on the damper or the regular bass bridge markers. What I really love is the beautiful tone everywhere on this instrument, even the lower left treble - a place I avoided as much as possible on my old HD. I would like to share this with you as well - this D670 traveled from Seattle, WA to Ken in Baltimore, MD and, finally, to me in far northern Vermont in late December with all the humidity and temperature fluctuations of the season. It arrived in tune and it's still in tune."
-Linda Wickenden (Vermont)
“It has been so exciting to play each of these fabulous instruments. The D670’s are much more than I had anticipated. Working with Sam, Dusty Strings has instituted some fabulous design changes.
Each of the instruments has arrived remarkably in tune. After travelling across the country, the most any instrument has been out of tune is maybe 4-5 cents, but still in tune with itself.
The extended range Dusty Strings instruments have always been known to have a very powerful bass response requiring the player to control dynamically the balance on the instrument. By utilizing different woods on the treble bridge, Dusty Strings has significantly improved the balance from the higher range of the left treble bridge with a very clear and crisp upper register. The responsiveness of these instruments is remarkable with a huge dynamic range. The sound is wonderful – what more can I say!
The improved tuning stability and improved balance are significant improvements. But finally, we come to the whole original raison d’etre of the D670 – having access to the super bass on the far right. Dusty Strings solved the problem of possibly sacrificing tone by placing the super bass on both the right and left. The super bass bridge on the right is placed far to the right of the bass bridge, well away from the bass bridge. I tend to play away from the bridge to find the sweet spot of each string. So far, I have found clearance not to be an issue. And the notes are big and beautiful!
Since all the instruments that I have seen have dampers, one design feature about which I was initially concerned was that the right super bass bridge is covered by the damper. It takes a little getting used to but after a few hours of playing, I stopped thinking about it and had no problem adjusting. You can easily use the bass bridge as a visual guide to hammering on the super bass bridge.
It has been a few decades when I (and probably many others) first thought about the desirability of the super bass on the right. Three more instruments will arrive at my studio this week for me to check out. Two will be delivered to students and one of those instruments is ear-marked for me to keep. How exciting! Thanks to Dusty Strings for making this wonderful instrument become a reality!"
-Ken Kolodner (Baltimore, MD)
“Recently, I got the chance to spend a day test playing a new D670 with dampers, and I have to admit it was a delightful experience. The D670 meets my expectations, a beautifully realized dulcimer. Out of the box, I hardly had to touch the tuning. Tone is well balanced through the entire range. Bridges are set up to make playing as easy as it can be. And the dampers work with precise control from high chromatics right down to the lowest Super Bass. Dulcimer nirvana. I look forward to hearing what players will do with the D670.”
-Sam Rizzetta (Inwood, West Virginia)