Carbon Fiber Dulcimers

Carbon COMPACT hammer dulcimer

Prior to the Arch Back experiments, the best way to make ultralight dulcimers was to make extensive use of carbon fiber parts. The first all carbon dulcimer to be completed was a RIZZETTA COMPACT model. It is several pounds lighter than all-wood COMPACTS or COMPACTS with carbon backs and redwood soundboards, making it easier to carry. The carbon soundboard is an important feature for tone and tuning stability. Carbon soundboards typically impart a rather “glassy” and attractive bell-like tone. My prototype carbon COMPACT is made to be ultra light weight and is therefore strung with very light gauge strings. The tone is sweet, rich, articulate, delicate, and musical with a lush warmth and balance throughout the entire range. It sounds somewhat like a cross between a mahogany soundboard and a redwood soundboard, but with the glassy quality of carbon and an especially nice and strong tone for its small size and light strings. Sustain is controlled to a pleasing level and individual notes are well-defined with great clarity and very good projection. Dulcimers with carbon soundboards tend to sound great with all hammers from soft to hard, making them especially versatile.

The soundboard, back, and frame, are carbon fiber. Wood is still used for bridges, pin blocks, and internal braces. The exceptional properties of carbon allow me to save a lot of weight while still making a professional, durable, high quality dulcimer that stays in tune. When properly designed, carbon dulcimers definitely hold tune much better than others. Weight is 10 lb., about 60% the weight of an all-wood COMPACT. Since the carbon structure is impervious to moisture, humidity has no effect on tuning. This greatly reduces the risks of traveling or performing outdoors.

The twill weave pattern of the carbon cloth shows through on the frame rails.

On the first carbon COMPACT I made the soundboard purple just for fun! Later carbon dulcimers have natural carbon black soundboards. My usual decorative soundholes are absent. Soundholes would weaken critical areas of the top and add weight by requiring heavier bracing, so soundholes are in the back and sides.

Carbon Fiber Compact

This carbon COMPACT was also used to develop a fourth playing bridge that enables playing the "third bridge" Super Bass courses on both the left and right sides of the dulcimer. Structural integrity and tuning stability are preserved and tone of the Super Bass courses is improved. This feature is available on Rizzetta dulcimers as well as the Dusty Strings D570 and D670 dulcimers.