- 4½ octaves overall range
- 3½ octaves chromatic range
- solid sapele soundboard and back
- traditional 5th-interval tuning
- 19/18 configuration with a 9-course super bass bridge
- reinforced with carbon fiber for stability
The D650 is the middle child of the 600 series, our largest hammered dulcimers. The large body size produces the same deep, full and resonant tone as the D600, but the D650 extends the bass range downward to A1. In its standard tuning, the lowest seven courses of the super bass bridge mirror the lowest seven courses of the bass bridge, but an octave below. If that arrangement doesn't provide the particular bass notes you need, raising or lowering a note by a half step gives you great flexibility for tuning and arranging. You won't believe the richness of those low bass notes!
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.
The 600 series models have often been called the grand pianos of the hammered dulcimer world because of their large range and deep, powerful sound, and this is in part due to their relatively substantial size and mass. While these models are still portable, it takes reasonable strength to carry them. We've found it helps to distribute the weight between the shoulder strap and the low hand-grip on the case - and limit your walking distance!
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 C600 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.
D650: $3865 (includes gooseneck tuning wrench, large double-sided hammers, owner's guidebook)
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.
Curly maple trim
Abalone Soundhole Inlay
Abalone Soundboard Inlay
Padded carrying case
|Variety of stand and leg choices|
Tuning & Specifications
The D650 has 4½ octaves of range. The lowest note is the A two octaves and a bit below middle C. It is laid out in a 19/18/9 configuration, meaning that there are 19 courses of strings on the treble bridge, 18 courses on the bass bridge, and a 9-course super bass bridge on the left, which provides the lower octave as well as some of the chromatic notes. The overall range is A1 to E6. The chromatic range is B2 to E6.
Tuning and Strings
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.
- Bottom rail: 50 inches
- Top rail: 18 inches
- Height: 23 inches
- Thickness: 4¼ inches
- Weight: approx. 25 pounds
- Soundboard and back: solid sapele
- Rails: wenge
- Pinblocks: laminated piano-style pinblocks faced with wenge
- Bridges: jatoba and eastern hard maple
- Soundhole insert: eastern hard maple
Reviews & Testimonials
KatieApr 5, 2018I've had my D650 for 7 years. It gets better and better. The lows and mids are like velvet. My house has controlled humidity and I can easily go months between tunings, even during seasonal changes. This instrument is more or less, VERY predictable and trustworthy. Mine has never been fussy. The damper system is simple, easy to adjust, and exactly what I want it to be.
This isn't a dulcimer for backpacking. It's cumbersome. I'm 5'4", not real strong, with pretty short arms. Transporting and setting up can be a challenging, but the sound is so worth it.
"The D650 is fantastic, and I'm pretty much in love with it... The low end is everything I've been pining for, in terms of hammered dulcimer tone... Also, impressively for a newly built dulcimer, the tuning stability has been commendable. One road trip home and a weather change aside, it's barely needed to be touched."
-Matt Olsen (Yachats, Oregon)