Dusty Strings Harp and Hammered Dulcimer Makers logo(206) 634-1656

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Light-colored trapezoid-shaped wooden instrument with horizontal strings and vertical bridges and two sound holes decorated with an ivy pattern
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Overture

Overview

  • 3 octaves
  • natural or black lacquer
  • laminated Finland birch soundboard and back
  • traditional 5th-interval tuning
  • 16/15 configuration
  • also available as a package with a case and stand

The larger version of our popular and affordable Prelude model is also built with a laminated Finland birch soundboard and back, and has the same stability and sweet, balanced sound. Extending the standard 2½ octave range downward, this instrument opens up a wider choice of playing keys and affords greater versatility in arranging melodies and harmonies.

The Overture is available as an instrument only (including hammers and a tuning wrench) or as a package with a C45 case and folding sit-down stand, providing a complete ready-to-go option. There is also the option to choose black finish instead of the standard clear lacquer.

Includes T-handle tuning wrench, regular single-sided wooden hammers, note guide strips, and owner's guidebook.

Overture, natural or black
:
$
695.00
Overture Package, natural or black (with C45 case & folding sit-down stand)
:
$
1025.00

Please note that your dulcimer will not look exactly like the photos you see here. Because wood is a natural material, and the color and grain vary from tree to tree, each instrument we build is unique.

We make an effort to keep photos up to date as far as general design goes, but videos could show older versions.

The Chromatic Series

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 soundboard.

Tuning & Specifications

Range

The Overture has a three-octave range, and the lowest note is the D below middle C. There are 16 courses of strings on the treble bridge and 15 courses on the bass bridge - a configuration that is often referred to as 16/15. Easily available keys are G, D, C, F and A, along with their relative minors, and there are a variety of chromatic notes available in each key.

Tuning and Strings

String chart for Overture hammered dulcimer

Superscript numbers indicate octaves (C4 is middle C). Dots indicate marked courses. PB = phosphor bronze wire. PBW = phosphor bronze wound. All unmarked strings are plain steel. Wire gauges are shown in inches.

Click here for downloadable string charts and string ordering information.

Dimensions

Dulcimer diagram with top and bottom rails labeled
  • Bottom rail: 42 inches
  • Top rail: 19½ inches
  • Height: 17¾ inches
  • Thickness: 4 inches
  • Weight: approx. 14 pounds

Woods

  • Soundboard and back: laminated Finland birch
  • Pinblocks and rails: Eastern hard maple
  • Main bridges: maple
  • Side bridges and soundhole inserts: sapele or walnut
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