Hammer Dulcimers

Rizzetta Standard on twisted dogwood legs.

RIZZETTA HAMMER DULCIMERS Description / Price List: 2017

On this page:

– Electronic Tuners For Hammer Dulcimer, a review
– Dusty Strings Hammer Dulcimers
– Accessories
– Rizzetta Hammer Dulcimers
– New Experiments and Developments
– Hammer Dulcimer Resonators NEW!
– Hammer Dulcimers FOR SALE, including used dulcimer for sale by owner.

See the Profile page for some photos of Rizzetta dulcimers & historical info. Additional info on Rizzetta designs can be found at Dusty Strings and at Nicholas Blanton Instruments.

Electronic Tuners For Hammer Dulcimer. Modern electronic tuners make the job of dulcimer tuning much easier. Here are reviews for what works best.


Dusty Strings dulcimers are highly recommended for high quality, good prices, 5 year warrantee, and unmatched wide selection of models. Some are described below. For current prices, pictures, tuning charts, & more go to: www.dustystrings.com.

DS prefix indicates Dusty Strings products. The 300, 500, & 600 series dulcimers and the PD 40 Piano Dulcimer are designed by Sam Rizzetta in collaboration with Dusty Strings.

Piano Dulcimers , like the PD 40, were invented by Sam Rizzetta. They are chromatic with a half-step interval across the treble bridge instead of the diatonic scales of 5th interval dulcimers. Notes are marked black & white like the piano keyboard. Piano dulcimers are easy to understand, and they play in all keys! Other models are traditional 5th interval dulcimers, which are easiest to play for diatonic folk music.

DS PD40. Mahogany; 2 bass bridges extend range to 3.5 octaves! $1245. Case; $165. Damper ready. Damper kit & installation instructions; $325. Installed; $395.

Dusty Strings dulcimers with traditional 5th interval tuning:

DS Prelude. Full size, 12-11; 2.5 octaves; economical starter dulcimer. $495. C10 case; $95 – $145.

DS D10. 12-11; solid mahogany; louder tone. $775. C10A case $95. C10 padded case; $145.

DS Overture. 16-15; 3+ octaves; laminated birch. $625. C45 case; $165.

DS D45. Popular 16-15 size; 3+ octaves; mahogany, some chromatics. $1145. C45 case; $165. Damper kit; $325. Installed; $395.

DS D300. 9-12-11; portable size with added bass; 3+ octaves; chromatics; mahogany. $2295. Case; $315.

DS D500. 3-16-15; 3+ octaves; 3 Super Bass courses. $2545. C500 case; $375. Dampers; $545.

DS D550. 8-16-15; like a Rizzetta Standard with mahogany top. Excellent all-around dulcimer. $2745. C500 case; $375. Dampers; $545. Popular size, highly recommended.

DS D570. NEW! 8-16-15-8; like the D550 but Super Bass courses playable on left and right! See info sheet below. $3045. Dampers; $745.

DS D600. 8-19-18 like a Rizzetta ER with mahogany top; 4+ octaves; big dulcimer, big sound. $3395. C600 case; $435. Dampers; $545. Recommend Tri-Stander.

DS D650. D600 with extended bass range; 4.5 octaves; big dulcimer, big sound. $3595. C600 case; $435. Dampers; $545. Recommend Tri-Stander.

DS D670. NEW! Like the D650 but Super Bass courses playable on left and right; the ultimate large dulcimer. $3895. C600 case; $345. Dampers; $745. Recommend Tri-Stander.

D570 & D670 info sheet.


DS Tri-Stander. Strong, light, portable stand system. Legs mount to dulcimer and telescope to adjust height/tilt, sit or stand. Legs unscrew, collapse for ultimate portability. Safest for large & valuable dulcimers. $345. Legs only; $213. Brackets only; $140. FlatStander option available for less inclined, flatter playing angle. Same prices.

DS Folding Stands. Convenient, portable. Sit-down stand; $135. Stand-up stand; $145.

Pedal Operated Damper Systems. For PD40 or D45. Installed $395. Kit to install it yourself; $325. For D500, D550, D600, D650, Rizzetta Compact, Rizzetta Standard, Rizzetta ER; Installed $545. For D570, D670; $745.

For hammers please see the Hammers page.


Sam is now building experimental instruments only. The regular Rizzetta designed models listed here are available from Nicholas Blanton. Contact Nicholas for details, current prices, availability, and backlog: Nicholas Blanton Instruments. Nick and Sam have collaborated for a long time and Nick’s craftsmanship is highly regarded. From time to time Sam will have one-of-a-kind experimental and used dulcimers available, and they will be listed at the bottom of this page.

These dulcimers are the result of Sam’s 50 years of experience and experiments, plus a long time collaboration with Nicholas Blanton. Some of Sam’s many innovations include: bridge markers for dulcimers, chromatic notes, and bracing features for improved tone. And there are always new developments. The “third-bridge” extra low bass “Super Bass” courses, a Rizzetta innovation, can now be played on both the left and right sides of the dulcimer. When dampers are added, they also work with the Super Bass notes. Sample tuning charts are pictured below. Variable density bridges are another innovation. They provide smoothly balanced tone and sustain control from low bass to high treble. The high notes are sweet and bell-like while the lower notes have a full-throated clarity and richness. And a new arched back design feature makes for dulcimers that are both stronger and much lighter in weight.

You can read about the latest experimental dulcimers and see photos on the Hammer Dulcimers, Ultra Light page. You can hear carbon dulcimers on the CD Dulcimer Fandango. See the Recordings page or: Hear sound clips; buy at: Rizzetta at CD Baby.  

For custom soft cases to fit Rizzetta dulcimers we highly recommend Coon Hollow Canvas.

Listed prices are approximate; please check with Nicholas Blanton for current pricing.

Mini. 4-13-12; 3 octaves+; ultra portable; 33″x14″x4″; 9 lb.; great sound; small size; light weight; a serious dulcimer for travel. $1500. Discontinued; we might make one occasionally.

Compact. Similar to Standard but very portable. Strong and rich tone with wide range in a super portable weight and size; 4-16-15-4; 38″x17″x4″; 10 lb. to 14 lb. depending on features. One inch string spacing between courses center-to-center is easily playable while keeping overall size minimal. It will fit in most airliners as carry on baggage under current guidelines for musical instruments. This is the model I use when I have to fly to a performance or workshop.
The Compact has long been a favorite of players & performers who want to travel easily & sound good. It has recently been updated to an ultralight option with many new enhancements. The new design is extremely sturdy and stable in tuning with an amazingly light carrying weight. With arch back and black carbon fiber frame, weight is 10 lb. About $3500. With a decorative wood outer frame instead of carbon fiber, weight is about 1/2 lb. heavier. At present, Compacts made by Nicholas Blanton will differ from mine a bit in weight, features, and price. A Compact will fit in a Dusty Strings C45 case which is a little oversize. For a form fitting case I recommend Coon Hollow Canvas. Helen Pilling at Coon Hollow has made a light weight case for my personal Ultralight Compact that has optional backpack straps. It’s the cat’s meow for airline travel and large festivals.

Standard. 4-16-15-4; almost 4 octaves; 3 octaves chromatic; 45″x20″x5″; 13 to 17 lb. depending on features; rich and powerful tone; mosaic inlay; great all-around dulcimer in a popular size. Its longer scale length and larger soundboard give it a rich, warm, and powerful tone. String spacing of 1-1/8″ between courses center-to-center is easy to play. Approximate price: $3700. Will fit in a Dusty Strings C500 case. Coon Hollow Canvas can make a custom fit case.

I have one experimental Standard available to sell. It is listed in the FOR SALE section below.

Extended Range (ER). 8-19-18-8; very large, ultimate 5th interval dulcimer; over 4 octaves; 3-1/2 octaves chromatic; 1.1″ string course spacing; 48″x22″x5″; 17 lbs. with carbon back; amazingly rich tone & lush bass.

Rizzetta Extended Range Dulcimer, redwood soundboard with mosaic inlay, carbon back.

The current ER is lighter and more portable than my early ERs. With carbon fiber back and chassis, about $4200. Will fit in a Dusty Strings C600 case.

Piano Dulcimer 3.7. 6-16-6; 3 octaves + 7 half steps; 45″x20″x5″; easiest chromatic system, see PD info above; like PD40 but larger; more powerful tone. About $3700.


The sample tuning chart below is for an ultralight carbon fiber Extended Range dulcimer. Note that the Super Bass “third bridge” courses can now be played on both left and right sides. More Super Bass can be added on heavier dulcimers. For more on carbon and ultralights, see the Hammer Dulcimers, Ultra Light page.


The sample tuning chart below is for an ultralight Compact model dulcimer. Note that the Super Bass “third-bridge” courses can now be played on both the left and right sides. More Super Bass can be added to heavier dulcimers. For more on carbon fiber dulcimers see the Carbon Fiber Instruments page.



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. (Some 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. Super Bass bridges are an early invention of mine to add more bass notes. They were originally playable only on the left. Some players wanted the SB on the right, which is detrimental to tone and can warp the soundboard. New engineering and precision manufacturing 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. Nicholas Blanton does not yet build this feature but hopefully might do so on request. You might see some dulcimers based on my designs that have Super Bass on the right only. That was never part of my design specifications; it is sometimes detrimental to the dulcimer and therefore not approved by me. Super Bass on Left and Right just works better and is safer for the dulcimer.

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.

HAMMER DULCIMER RESONATORS are another new item. For some time I’ve been developing Hammer Dulcimer Resonator-Stands and am now building a limited number for sale. They increase the volume and also make the tone more rich, resonant, mellow, and articulate. This is especially useful for performers.

The Rizzetta Resonator-Stand is a light weight, reinforced wood panel with Dusty Strings TriStander brackets attached underneath. The Resonator-Stand holds your dulcimer in such a way that vibration is conducted from the dulcimer through the resonator, thereby enhancing and amplifying the tone.

If you already use TriStander telescoping legs, you can use them with the Resonator-Stand. Once the legs are screwed into the resonator, your dulcimer is placed on top of the resonator just like any other stand. The legs can be adjusted to play sitting down, standing up, or anywhere in between. Resonator weight is under 5 lb.

Note that the Dusty Strings TriStander telescoping legs have recently been greatly improved. They now have flip locks that are much easier to use; they lock tighter and more securely while requiring much less force and hand strength. The flip locks are also adjustable and replaceable. I can’t say enough good things about the new legs; they are everything I want in a dulcimer leg.

Resonator-Stand specifications:

Size: 38” x 21.5” x 4”
Weight: about 4.8 lb. (not including the legs)
Color: satin black to match legs.

Price without legs – $390. Price with telescoping legs – $509.

The Resonator-Stand is adjusted for each dulcimer’s weight and size. When ordering, specify the size, model, and weight of your dulcimer. Available for Dusty Strings, Nicholas Blanton, and Rizzetta dulcimers.

Although it is another accessory to carry, I find the Resonator-Stand very convenient to use. The stand is very light weight. And it is much easier to put legs on the Resonator-Stand and set it up than to attach the legs directly to the dulcimer. I can play and be heard in more situations without amplification. And, when a sound system is necessary, the dulcimer and resonator project much better into a microphone. Sound-wise, it is like having a much larger, more powerful instrument. So, I can travel with a light, Compact dulcimer and still produce a big, gorgeous sound. On rare occasion, I still use my dulcimers without a resonator when I have to travel with the absolute minimum. Otherwise, I perform with a resonator whenever I can and even use it at home. I really love the sound enhancement and set up convenience.

To hear and try a Rizzetta Resonator-Stand, contact me to visit my shop near Bunker Hill, WV, or see me at one of the festivals where I teach and play. At present, I do not have immediate plans to post audio clips or photos on my website, since production is very limited.



Rizzetta Experimental Standard

Made by Sam in 2014, unused and perfect condition, 4-16-15-4, lovely rosewood frame rails, mahogany soundboard, laminated pin blocks with carbon fiber reinforcement. Treble bridge has 3 strings per course. Super Bass courses are playable on both left and right sides. Gorgeous warm tone is full and lush with very good volume as well. Weight is 15.8 lb. which is quite light for this size and tone. This dulcimer is a no nonsense player’s instrument in that it has no unnecessary frills or decoration other than its beautiful, select woods with satin finish. Available with or without TriStander. You can see this dulcimer at Kentucky Music Week and at Evart.

Price: $2800. Contact Rizzetta Music: rizzetta1@frontier.com

1994 Rizzetta Extended Range Dulcimer

Built in 1994 by Sam Rizzetta and Nicholas Blanton. Owned by Madeline MacNeil, original owner. 2-6-19-18 bridge layout. 4+ octave range. Lowest note: D2 (2 octaves below middle C). Highest note: E6 (2-1/3 octaves above middle C). All natural wood construction. Redwood soundboard, dark wenge hardwood frame. This “grand piano” dulcimer is featured on several CDs by Madeline MacNeil, including As Time Goes By, Morning Has Broke, Songs of Earth and Sea, and Heaven & Angels Sing.

$4,000. Includes carrying case, portable Tri-Stander telescoping legs, hammers, & tuning wrench. (Note, the case and leg system would cost $770 if purchased new today. So, to replace this dulcimer and these accessories today would total $4970.) Shipping extra. For more information, contact:

Madeline MacNeil
Berryville, Virginia

Antique Hammer Dulcimer
This is a rectangular, parlor-style dulcimer, probably pre Civil War. It is similar in style to dulcimers made by the Wade Brothers 1840 – 1861 in western New York and northern Kentucky. 12-11 bridge layout. Original dark brown varnish with red-brown graining. Square head piano tuning pins. It has been recently re-strung and tuned. It holds tune, plays well, and has a sweet tone. As is usual for such dulcimers, there are some non-structural cracks in the top and back; they do not influence tone or tuning stability. It would be a good instrument for historical programs and re-enactors, as well as those wanting to start playing with minimal investment. I would appraise this dulcimer at about $400.

Asking $275. More details and photos are available from the owner. Contact:

Betsy Calvert
The Plains, Virginia

1993 Rizzetta and Blanton Compact Model Dulcimer
Compact models are much in demand. Here is an older one in excellent condition, very few dings. 16-15 bridge layout. Full, resonant tone. Weighs about 14 lbs. Top and back are solid redwood; frame is beautiful dark and highly figured tropical hardwood. Decorative, hand-carved 8-pointed star sound-hole rosette. Mosaic wood inlay on top borders. Holder to attach mini-microphone on back for performing. Recent check up and updates by Sam Rizzetta, including many new strings.

Price: $2200. Includes sturdy oak stand with adjustable height. Not included but also available for sale are a Main Street case and TriStander telescoping leg system. The legs telescope to allow playing seated or standing and collapse to 15.5″ for portability.


Details and more photos are available from owner. Contact:

Tabby Finch
Round Hill, Virginia