- 3½ octaves
- fully chromatic
- piano dulcimer tuning
- solid sapele soundboard and back
The piano dulcimer represents a great new concept in the dulcimer world - an affordable and simple way to bring the unique sound of the dulcimer into any keyboard player's realm, whether it's in a church, band, soundtrack, composer's studio, at home or around the campfire. Invented by long-time hammered dulcimer designer and builder Sam Rizzetta and based on the piano keyboard, it's a compact, fully chromatic instrument.
The tuning pattern uses half-step intervals across the bridge. Each course of strings crosses two markers on the top of the bridge, with white markers designating the naturals, or C major scale, and black markers designating the sharps and flats, just like on a piano. To play a C scale, just follow the white markers up the instrument. The sharps and flats are where a keyboard player would expect to find them - next to the naturals. Once you learn the pattern for any scale, it's easy to change keys, since all the scales follow the same pattern or a mirror pattern.
The piano dulcimer is a very versatile instrument, and is probably best-suited for players who are comfortable exploring on their own. It does not have the long history that the traditional fifth-interval dulcimer has, and is not widely taught. As far as we know, there aren't any piano dulcimer instruction books in print, but thanks to Sam Rizzetta, you can now download a free PDF of Playing the Piano Dulcimer by Madeline MacNeil.
Solid wood construction, 3½ fully chromatic octaves, a convenient size, a deep, rich tone, and an attractive price all come together in the PD40 piano dulcimer. An innovative feature is that the dulcimer is "damper ready," meaning that dampers can be installed when the instrument is ordered, or easily installed by the player at any time. Dampers provide sustain control and greatly increase the versatility of the instrument.
PD40: $1495 (includes gooseneck tuning wrench, double-sided oval hammers and owner's guidebook)
PD40 Damper Package: $2065 (includes above accessories, plus C45 case and dampers installed)
|Black Soundboard (binding must also be ordered)
Binding and Purfling
Padded carrying case
|Variety of stand and leg choices|
Tuning & Specifications
The PD40 has three bridges arranged in the piano dulcimer format. It is fully chromatic for its 3½ octave range, with bridge cap markers that mimic the pattern of white and black keys on the piano. The overall range is G2 to D6.
Tuning and Strings
Superscript numbers indicate octaves (C4 is middle C). Dots indicate marked courses. PB = phosphor bronze. PBW = phosphor bronze wound. Unspecified strings are plain steel. * indicates a single-string course. Wire gauges are shown in inches.
- Bottom rail: 42 inches
- Top rail: 19½ inches
- Height: 17¾ inches
- Thickness: 4 inches
- Weight: approx. 14 pounds
- Soundboard and back: solid sapele
- Pinblocks and rails: eastern hard maple
- Bridges and soundhole inserts: eastern hard maple
Reviews & Testimonials
CoreyJul 28, 2021As a lifelong pianist who wanted to learn the hammered dulcimer, I was intimidated by the string layouts of traditional dulcimers and also disappointed in the difficulty in playing certain keys. Luckily the PD40 addressed both those concerns of mine. With it I was able to quickly learn a variety of songs and play along with a dulcimer club I found who specialized in folk and traditional music. I've also been able to easily play a number of non-traditional classical, jazz, and modern tunes due to the chromatic tuning of the instrument. This comes at some price though, as a number of traditional hammered dulcimer players in my club were not able to help me learn songs due to the different hammer patterns that the PD40 must employ to play them.
I would highly recommend the PD40 for anyone looking to play the hammered dulcimer who has experience with piano, xylophone, marimba, or other tuned percussion instruments. I would also recommend the PD40 for anyone with experience with reading sheet music and playing classical music or chromatic scales. Lastly I would recommend this instrument for existing hammered dulcimer players who are looking to branch out of the traditional D, G, A, etc. tunings of most folk music or who are trying to play songs with lots of accidentals (notes that are marked sharp or flat in sheet music because they're outside of a scale). I would not recommend this instrument for people who are looking to replace a traditionally tuned hammered dulcimer to play traditional music, as there will be a significant learning curve in understanding and adjusting to the new layout which you may find inferior for traditional music.
ElenaFeb 22, 2020I had been dreaming to buy a hammered dulcimer since long ago, and I feel so lucky now to have one! I've been searching for a chromatic instrument which would give me an opportunity to play in many pitches. I also needed a wide range to play low bass strings.
So I chose Dusty Strings :) I just fell in love with my new PD 40 at once when it arrived, it looks splendid and sounds so amazing!! I think it's the finest instrument I've ever had.
My greatest thanks to all the people who helped me with my order, who spent so much time writing to me, who really cared!! Thank you for the most positive buying experience :)
"The PD40 is very intuitive for pianists. The only hard part is getting used to the fact that some degrees of the scale are on the same string, only across the bridge. Other that that, it is immediately understandable. Because you must cross the bridge so often, you have to work out hammer patterns, but that is essentially the same as working out fingering on the piano. You cannot find a teacher, but if you are a pianist, you do not need one, just practice playing songs you know, and you will improve automatically. I am more than satisfied with this instrument. If you are a pianist, especially if you are a pop or jazz pianist, THIS IS THE DULCIMER TO BUY!"
-Mack Garner (Maryville, TN)