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

Several of us are away at the Somerset Folk Harp Festival, and we may not be able to respond to emails and phone calls as quickly as usual. Thank you for your patience!

Two hammered dulcimer corners, with light birch laminated plywood on the left and darker solid sapele on the right

Dulcimer Woods & Anatomy

Chromatic D670 hammered dulcimer with dulcimer anatomy labels

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.

Upper corner of a hammered dulcimer showing the layered edge of the laminated birch soundboard
Laminated birch soundboard
Upper corner of a hammered dulcimer showing the edge of the solid wood sapele 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.