Hammer Dulcimers

Rizzetta Standard on twisted dogwood legs.

RIZZETTA HAMMER DULCIMERS Description / Price List: 2018

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 best for diatonic folk music.

DS PD40. Mahogany; 2 bass bridges extend range to 3.5 octaves! $1245. Case; $175. 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; $155.

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; $175. 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. Popular all-around dulcimer. $2745. C500 case; $375. Dampers; $545.

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. Use 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. Use 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; $139. Stand-up stand; $149.

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. 4-13-12-4; 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″; 4+ octaves; 10 lb. to 12 lb. depending on features. Super Bass courses are playable on both left and right. 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. While a variety of tuning set ups are possible, especially for the Super Bass, here is a sample.

Compact Tuning Chart

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; over 4 octaves; up to 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. Super Bass notes are playable on both left and right. Approximate price: $3700. Will fit in a Dusty Strings C500 case. Coon Hollow Canvas can make a custom fit case. Options for extended Super Bass.

Standard Tuning Chart

There is currently one 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. Current versions have Super Bass playable on both left and right.

Extended Range Tuning Chart

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.

Piano Dulcimer 3.7 Tuning Chart


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 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. 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. In playing, I use the Super Bass on both sides about equally and would not want to be without that capability.

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.


For some time I’ve been developing Hammer Dulcimer Resonator-Stands and am now building a limited number for sale. They amplify a dulcimer noticeably but 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 that is supported with 3 Dusty Strings TriStander legs. 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. It also reflects the sound out to an audience better.

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 very light, about 4 lb.

Note that the Dusty Strings TriStander telescoping legs have recently been greatly improved. They now have flip locks, or lever locks, that are much easier to use; they lock tighter and more securely while requiring much less force and hand strength. The lever 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 lb. (not including the legs)
Color: satin black to match legs.

Price without legs – $275. Dusty Strings telescoping legs – $213.

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. It 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 a dulcimer, which helps avoid back strain.

I can now play and be heard in more situations without amplification. And, when a sound system is necessary, the dulcimer and resonator project well into a microphone. Sound-wise, it is like having a larger, richer, more powerful instrument. So, I can travel with a light, Compact dulcimer and still produce a big, gorgeous sound. I now use a resonator most of the time, since I really love the sound enhancement and set up convenience. On rare occasion, I still use my dulcimers without a resonator when I have to travel with the absolute minimum. For those times, I take a Triangle-Leg-Stand which uses the same Dusty Strings telescoping legs that the resonator does. I hope to announce the availability of Triangle-Leg-Stands soon.

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.

Email: rizzetta1@frontier.com


Rizzetta Experimental Standard

“The Eagle” dulcimer is a special, one-of-a-kind project. Lovely figured rosewood frame rails, mother-of-pearl bald eagle sound hole rosette, mahogany soundboard. Treble bridge has 3 strings per course; bass and Super Bass 2 strings per course. Super Bass courses are playable on both left and right sides. Tone is warm and resonant with a very open, full, and lush sound. Weight is 15.8 lb., quite light for this size and tone.

Perfect condition. Mahogany soundboard, 4-16-15-4, Super Bass playable on both left and right.

Mother-of-pearl bald eagle sound hole rosette.

Figured rosewood frame.

Pin blocks are reinforced with carbon fiber.

Available with or without TriStander System stand. Standard Tuning Chart.

Price: $2950. 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

2006 Rizzetta and Blanton Extended Range Dulcimer

This is a very special dulcimer that will come up for sale soon.

Features include redwood soundboard, bubinga frame, carbon fiber back, and mosaic border inlay around the top. Weight is in the 16 to 17 lb. range, which is extremely light weight for an ER.

Very recent modifications update this dulcimer to the latest Rizzetta features and sound. The adjustable tone bars were replaced to add better sustain control and more mellow tone. Bridges were modified to sweeten the high treble and make notes more articulate throughout the range. And bridges were added to make the Super Bass notes playable on both the left and right sides.

Price has not yet been set. For more details, contact the owner:

Betsy Calvert
The Plains, Virginia