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  • 3¾ octaves overall range
  • 3½ octaves chromatic range
  • solid sapele soundboard and back
  • traditional 5th-interval tuning
  • 16/15 configuration with an 8-course super bass bridge
  • reinforced with carbon fiber for stability

The D550 has the same size frame as the D500, but adds 5 more courses of strings to the super bass bridge, extending the bass range down to G2. One of our mid-sized Chromatic Series dulcimers, it combines a highly useful 3¾ range and deep, lush tone with a relatively portable body size, making it among our most popular instruments.

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 register, 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.

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.

The C500 case is available separately.

Note: If you think you might want dampers, we'd encourage you to consider ordering them along with your instrument. On our Chromatic Series dulcimers, the dampers are complicated enough that they require custom fitting for each instrument to make sure they function well. It is possible for us to install them later, but it will require shipping your dulcimer to our shop in Seattle.

D550: $3045 (includes gooseneck tuning wrench, large double-sided hammers, owner's guidebook)

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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.


Outline your dulcimer with rails and pinblocks of curly maple

Curly maple trim

Price: $545

Abalone shell surrounding the hand-carved maple leaf rosette

Abalone Soundhole Inlay

Price: $250

Abalone shell surrounding the hammered dulcimer soundboard

Abalone Soundboard Inlay

Price: $800

Black finish on a hammered dulcimer soundboard Black Soundboard

Price: $130
Close-up of damper bar, which allows the player to control the dulcimer's sustain


Price: $595

Padded burgundy protective case for hammered dulcimer

Padded carrying case

Price: $430

This folding wooden stand is one of the options for supporting your hammered dulcimer Variety of stand and leg choices

Tuning & Specifications


The D550 has three and a half octaves of fully chromatic range. The lowest note is the G two octaves below middle C. It is laid out in a 16/15/8 configuration, meaning that there are 16 courses of strings on the treble bridge, 15 courses on the bass bridge, and an 8-course super bass bridge on the left, which provides the lower half-octave as well as the additional chromatic notes that aren't normally present in the dulcimer tuning scheme. The overall range is G2 to E6. The chromatic range is C3 to E6.

Tuning and Strings

String chart for D550 hammered dulcimerThis tuning chart is for instruments with serial numbers after 13168. Superscript numbers indicate octaves (C4 is middle C). Dots indicate marked courses. PB = phosphor bronze. PBW = phosphor bronze wound. SSW = stainless steel wound. Unspecified strings are plain steel. Wire gauges are shown in inches.

Click here for downloadable string charts and string ordering information.


  • Hammered dulcimer diagram with top and bottom rails labeledBottom rail: 45 inches
  • Top rail: 18 inches
  • Height: 20 inches
  • Thickness: 4 inches
  • Weight: approx. 19 pounds


  • Soundboard and back: solid sapele
  • Pinblocks: laminated piano-style pinblocks faced with sapele
  • Bridges: jatoba and eastern hard maple
  • Rails and soundhole insert: eastern hard maple

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Reviews & Testimonials

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"Thank you to all of the craftsmen and craftswomen who created this D550 hammered dulcimer for me, as well as everyone at Dusty Strings. It has a wonderful sound and it is a beautiful instrument! I'm very pleased with it. It is a rare treat to own something of such quality and craftsmanship and I feel that you all do our country credit by caring so much about the quality of your work.”

-Jim Griesemer (Walnut Creek, California)

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