Dulcimer Innovations


Besides playing them, my primary work with building hammer dulcimers since 1970 has been to do research and controlled experiments to better understand and improve them. This has led to numerous innovations and enhancements over the years. This includes inventing the bridge marker system that is now in universal use. I added the bridge markers to the first hammer dulcimer I made, around 1970, after starting to play. Some new and interesting developments are on the Hammer Dulcimers, Ultra Light page. Three recent improvements are noteworthy because they can be retrofitted to many of my earlier dulcimers, as well as some of the Dusty Strings Chromatic Series models that are partially based on my designs.

1. Bridges. New bridge designs and materials provide tone that is more articulate and mellow with less sustain and better balance from the lowest notes to the highest notes.

2. Super Bass. The extra low, third bridge, Super Bass courses are now playable on both the left and the right sides. I designed Super Bass bridges in the 1970s to add more bass and chromatic notes. They were originally playable only on the left due to tone and structural considerations. Some players wanted the SB on the right, which can be detrimental to tone and warp the soundboard. New engineering and precision building now makes it possible to have Super Bass bridges on both left and right. Plus, stress and risk of warping are reduced. Super Bass Left and Right can be seen on my recent dulcimers and on the Dusty Strings D570 and D670. Super Bass on Left and Right just works better and is safer for the dulcimer. In playing, I use the Super Bass on both sides about equally and would not want to be without that capability. For more on Super Bass bridges, read:
Super Bass, more info

3. Internal Braces. For a long time, internal adjustable and replaceable brace bars have been a special feature of many Rizzetta dulcimers. New materials for those braces provide a more mellow and less sustaining tone. Some, but not all, dulcimers will benefit from this mod. Dusty Strings models do not need it.

Not all dulcimers need changes, and not all dulcimers can be retrofitted. I am willing to modify my earlier dulcimers as well as some of my designs made by Dusty Strings or Nicholas Blanton. Check with me for mod prices.


Rizzetta Resonator-Stands amplify a dulcimer and make the tone more rich, resonant, mellow, and articulate. This is useful for performers, but any player might enjoy the tone enhancement. Resonators are perhaps most useful for small and medium size dulcimers. Sound-wise, it is like having a larger instrument. I can travel with a smaller, lighter weight dulcimer and still produce a big, lovely sound. For those who have been asking me for a resonator they can use with dampers, see the TriFold Stand. I make two styles of Resonator-Stands:

1. The TriFold Stand is the most universal and recommended for most players. It is a sit-down stand that folds flat for portability and is the only resonator that can be used with dampers. Playing tilt angle is variable, and it will hold a dulcimer of almost any size or weight. Folded dimensions are 2-1/2" x 24" x 24". Weight varies from 5 to 6-1/2 lb. It is very portable and easy to carry. About $300.

2. The original Resonator-Stand is a light weight, reinforced wood sound panel, like a small table, that is supported with 3 Dusty Strings TriStander legs. A special suspension conducts vibration from your dulcimer to the sound panel. This is the only resonator that can use telescoping legs. It can be played standing, but cannot be used with Rizzetta or Dusty Strings dampers. Tilt angle is variable. It is primarily for dulcimers up to 18 lb. but can be adjusted to hold heavier ones. Weight, not including legs, is about 4 lb. Maximum dimensions are 38" x 24" x 3". About $375. Legs sold separately.

You can see and try resonators at my shop, or look for me at music festivals. I only have time to make a few and will not ship them. But they can be custom ordered from Nicholas Blanton, see link at top of page. At present, I do not have plans to post audio clips or photos since production is very limited.