Close-up of two hammered dulcimer corners, showing the difference between laminated birch and solid sapele

Dulcimer Woods & Anatomy

Image of a hammered dulcimer with dampers and all components labeled

Our lower priced instruments have soundoards and backs made of laminated birch. Unlike our solid wood soundboards, we can buy the laminated birch in ready-to-use sheet form, and this helps us keep the price of these instruments more affordable. It is the highest grade of plywood available, looks quite nice, and has the added benefit of being fairly impervious to changes in temperature and humidity, enhancing the instrument's stability. It gives the dulcimer a clean, clear and pleasing quality of sound.

All of our solid wood instruments have soundboards and backs made of high-quality, quarter-sawn sapele. We chose this wood for its visual beauty, dimensional stability, and most importantly, for the sound. The acoustical properties of sapele combined with our instrument and bracing designs give a rich, deep brilliance, controlled sustain, and clarity of fundamental tone that results in a smooth, professional sound.

Hammered dulcimer with blond-colored laminated birch soundboard Hammered dulcimer with reddish brown solid sapele wood soundboard    
Laminated birch soundboard Solid sapele soundboard    


While the use of a plywood soundboard provides an economical, lovely-sounding instrument, solid wood on the same instrument will produce more resonance, depth, brilliance and volume. For more discussion on the differences between laminated and solid wood, see our blog article: Plywood vs. Solid Wood Hammered Dulcimers.

For long-lasting protection and beauty, each instrument receives multiple applications of clear lacquer, allowing the true color and character of the wood to shine through. Black lacquer is also an available option.