Hammered dulcimers have a lot of strings, and at some point you'll probably be faced with replacing a broken one. This page has all the information you need to know about ordering, replacing and maintaining strings. If you have any questions, please give us a call.
We sell strings to fit our hammered dulcimers in three quantities. Full sets contain one of each string used on the hammered dulcimer, allowing you to replace all of your strings at once. Spare string kits contain 1-3 strings of each gauge used on the dulcimer. These kits will provide a replacement if you break a string, but do not contain enough strings to restring the whole instrument. Individual strings are sold by gauge. To find out which gauges your instrument uses, you can download the appropriate string chart below.
All of our string charts are available as PDF downloads. The model and serial number of your instrument can be found on a tag inside one of the soundholes.
|Hammered Dulcimer Models
|D10, Apprentice & Prelude||D500 (before #13169)|
|Overture||D550 (after #13168)|
|D45||D550 (before #13169)|
|D300 (after #13377)||D600|
|D300 (before #13378)||D650|
|D500 (after #13168)||PD40|
|D260 (before #13169)|
A few of our dealers stock our strings, but for most people it's easiest to order strings directly from us. You can order them online, you can print an order form and fax or mail it to us (see instructions on the form), or you can call us and place your order over the phone. To figure out what type and gauge of string to order, find the model and serial number of your instrument on the sticker inside one of the sound holes. Then find the corresponding string chart in the list above, and this will show you which strings go in which positions on your instrument.
If you'd like to download and print an order form, you can find it here.
See our Shipping Info page for current shipping and handling rates.
Note: It is often possible to replace the plain steel strings with loop-end banjo or guitar strings of the same gauge, and these are widely available at music stores. It can be harder to find substitutes for phosphor bronze or wound dulcimer strings, so most people order those directly from us.
|Individual Strings (loop end, 45" long)|
|Plain Steel (.014", .016", .018", .020", .022", .024")||$1.50|
|Phosphor Bronze (.022", .025")||$2.50|
|Steel Wound (.020", .024", .028")||$2.50|
|Phosphor Bronze Wound
(.030", .032", .034", .036", .040", .044", .054", .060")
|Spare String Kits|
|Prelude, Apprentice or D10||$15.50|
|D35, D45 or Overture||$28.00|
|D300 (before #13378)||$24.00|
|D300 (after #13377)||$35.50|
|D500 (before #13169)||$29.50|
|D500 (after #13168)||$33.50|
|D550 (before #13169)||$32.00|
|D550 (after #13168)||$49.50|
|D600 or D650||$49.50|
|Full String Sets
|Prelude, Apprentice or D10||$55.50|
|D35, D45 or Overture||$86.50|
|D300 (before #13378)||$86.00|
|D300 (after #13377)||$95.50|
|D500 (before #13169)||$97.00|
|D500 (after #13168)||$102.00|
|D550 (before #13169)||$120.50|
|D550 (after #13168)||$126.00|
Replacing your first broken string can seem daunting, but with your tuning wrench, a pair of wire snips and our step-by-step instructions, you'll be a pro in no time. If you have the Hammered Dulcimer Owner's Guidebook that came with your dulcimer, the section called "Replacing Broken Strings" will walk you through the whole process. If you can't find the booklet, click here to open a PDF copy. As always, if you have any questions or run into any snags, feel free to give us a call!
Note: If you are restringing the whole instrument, we recommend changing the strings course by course. If you take all of them off at once, your bridges will move around and it will be more work to re-position the bridges and get the instrument back in tune.
Unlike guitar strings, which must be replaced often due to the corrosive effects of salt and perspiration from the player's fingers, hammered dulcimer strings can last many years with a little care. When tuning, use a guitar pick instead of your fingers to pluck the strings. If you notice the strings becoming tarnished, you can usually clean them with a string wiping or polishing cloth. If they are heavily tarnished, a very fine steel wool will clean them, but it will also take off some of the protective coating so they will likely tarnish again more quickly after that.
If you notice that the sound is duller than you remember, it could be time to change your strings, but ultimately whether or not to do this is a question of personal taste. You won't hurt the instrument by leaving the same strings on there forever. If you have one of our larger models with wound strings in the lower register, often changing just the wound strings will do a considerable amount to brighten up the whole instrument.
If you are looking for strings for a hammered dulcimer made by someone else, there's a chance we might have what you need, but there are a couple of things you'll need to know.
The first thing to determine is whether your instrument uses two (or sometimes more) individual strings per course. The strings would have a loop on one end that hooks around a hitch pin and a free other end that wraps around a tuning pin on the opposite side of the instrument. There are many dulcimers out there that instead use one continuous piece of wire for each course, meaning that the wire needs to be long enough to go across the dulcimer and back again. Our 45"-long loop-end strings will not work for this style of stringing, but you might be able to use two loop-end strings in place of one continuous string.
Once you've determined the type of string, the trickier thing can be figuring out what gauges to order. Unfortunately, there is no standard for hammered dulcimers. Everyone makes them differently, and for this reason it's not usually possible for us to tell you what strings to use on your dulcimer. If your instrument has strings on it currently, your best bet is to find a micrometer and measure the diameter of the strings. If you don't have any strings to measure, you can try looking at the string charts and specifications for the instruments we make and guessing which one might be the most similar. There's no guarantee it will work, but it can be easier to experiment if you have somewhere to start.