~ I have decided to forge ahead into the challenge of learning to play the hammer dulcimer after visiting with you at a craft show in Virginia last week. I believe your comment “we ain’t gettin no younger” summed it up nicely. I am so looking forward to making music without a CD player! What advice do you have as I attempt to “hammer out” a wise decision? ~Braveheart

Dear Fellow Soldier,


Congratulations on taking the initiative to form a battle plan. The Bible says it is wise to seek the counsel of others before going into battle, but from a salesman??? Heck, I think you should buy the most expensive instrument we make!!! Yeehaw!!! Would you like gold-plated dampers on that??? Seriously, you are going about it very wisely. You might be able to find an article or two on the subject from some old Dulcimer Players News (don’t know which issues – www.dpnews.com). Good advice is usually available from successful musicians such as guitar players, if you don’t know several good hammer dulcimer players. You should be able to make contact with internet chat-lines on the subject. The most information on the subject I know of anywhere is on our very own website under products/hammer dulcimers. Some time ago, I wrote an article to assist customers trying to decide which of our models they wanted to purchase and play, cleverly named “The Hammer Dulcimer Models Comparison”. It’s a tough thing to figure out and even harder to tell someone else what to do! So I don’t – I just share as much basic information as possible about a whole list of important aspects of dulcimer playing and building such as the benefits and determents of: physical sizes of different instruments, different musical ranges, chromatics, keys available, sound variations caused by different soundboard materials, bridges, bridge caps, sustain levels and what causes it, stained soundboards, bracing, backs, sound holes and inlays, ways to support the instrument, cases, dampers, hammers, how to make a million dollars in the stock market, how to lose weight, where the next hurricane will hit, how to cook a perfect soufflé (Merla’s still working on that one), etc… You can’t go wrong reading this little article. So, what are you waiting for? Paint your face up; sharpen your sword and CHARGE!!!

Posted in: Ask Russell