The hammered dulcimer, which is also known as the santoor is an intriguing instrument that can produce beautiful and stimulating sound. Some believe that the instrument dates back to the 1600-911 BC. Most traditional hammered dulcimer has the major keys of D, C, G, and F which works perfectly well for musical styles like hymns, pop, bluegrass, Celtic tunes, and old-time. Some of the best-hammered dulcimers on the market have special keys that can make certain styles like jazz, blues, and classical music easier to play.
Finding a well-hammered dulcimer is not an easy task because there are so many models out there. To increase the odds of you picking a good one, you have to know what makes a good dulcimer. To help make your shopping easier we considered important features like wood, weight, strings, bridges, and soundboards that affect the tonality and performance of the instrument.
Top 4 Hammered Dulcimers Review 2020
To ensure that our guide is comprehensive, we tried out different hammered dulcimer models, consulted experts who know the ins and the out of the instrument and did deep and extensive research to learn as much as we can about the instrument. Our guide starts with a comparison table that shows the rating of each product. Next is a detailed description of each product as well as their pros and cons. The last section is a buying guide that contains everything you need to know about hammered dulcimers.
Masterworks Sapelli Pioneer Package – Editor’s Choice
- Top and back wood: sapelli soundboard, laminated birch back
- Weight: 12 lb
- Courses: 1514
- Octaves: 3+
More features:maple bridges, case included, electronic tuner included, ash endrails
The Masterworks Sapelli Pioneer is a stunning, sturdy, and a masterfully crafted hammered dulcimer with a lot of impressive features. This jaw-dropping work-of-art is crafted from premium quality wood handpicked by professional luthier craftsman with more than 30 years of experience of creating superior quality instruments.
The Masterworks Sapelli is specifically designed for beginners who are still learning how to play the instrument.
The bridges of this exotic instrument are made of premium quality hardwood; the endrails is made of ash while the inlay is made of Harrison rose. This dulcimer comes with steel/brass strings, with a total of 15 treble and 14 brass courses.
With this top-notch instrument, you can be sure of producing melodious sound with relative ease.
The Masterworks Sapelli comes with an x-brace stand, tuning wrench, a portable case, and an electric tuner. There is also a special booklet that comes with the package, it contains some important things you need to know about the instrument and how to fine-tune it.
Obviously, the Masterworks Sapelli is a masterpiece and with it a handful of outstanding features, but it has some issues. Some customers complained that it is expensive. Also, it isn’t a good fit for professional players.
So, if you are a beginner looking for a unique, high quality, and durable hammer dulcimer with a lot of function, the Masterworks Sapelli Pioneer Package will be perfect for you.
- High-quality sound
- Excellent craftsmanship
- It is easy to set up and play
- It is perfect for beginners
- It is expensive
- It is not suitable for professionals
Roosebeck Hammered Dulcimer – Best Hammered Dulcimer for Beginners
- Top and back wood: sheesham
- Weight: 14.1 lb
- Courses: 12/11
- Octaves: 2-1/2
More features: opening in back that can be used as a handle, 46 metal tuning pegs, hammers included
The Roosebeck Hammered Dulcimer is a brilliant, stunning, affordable and durable instrument. Its sophisticated design and near perfect finish are what make it stand out as one of the best-hammered dulcimers on the market.
The body of this beauty is made of top-grade Sheesham. Since it is made of high quality sturdy material, you can be confident that it will last for a long time.
The Roosebeck Hammered Dulcimer comes with a special opening that has a practical use. The maker created the hole to give the instrument a handle to carry with ease. Since it is easy to carry, you will be able to move it and take it to class or move it around with relative ease.
The reason why most people opt for this beauty is because of the quality of sound it produces. So, if you are looking for a dulcimer that is easy to play and can produce inspiring and melodious sounds, then, the Roosebeck Hammered Dulcimer will be good for you.
This top-notch dulcimer comes with a pair of specially made hammers with exotic pads made from leather.
No doubt, the Roosebeck Hammered Dulcimer is a top-notch dulcimer with features that are certainly going to impress you, but it has a few downsides. First, it is pricey, especially when compared to models from other brands similar to it. Also, it is somewhat difficult to tune.
- Excellent finishing
- Eye-catching design
- Made from high-quality materials
- Remarkable sound quality
- It is pricy
- It is difficult to tune
Sadeghi Goldar Santoor – BestProfessional Hammered Dulcimer
- Top and back wood: walnut
- Weight: 10.5 lb
- Courses: 12
- Octaves: 3
More features:hard case and hammers included
The Sadeghi Goldar Santoor is a unique, specially crafted, and a highly detailed instrument. Unlike other hammered dulcimers on the market with modern designs, the Sadeghi Goldar Santoor has a spell bounding ancient look. The makers of this fascinating piece stuck to the old ways of crafting traditional Santoors.
Like most old school Santoor, the Sadeghi Goldar Santoor comes in a trapeze-like shape. Its sound quality is next to none as it has about 72 strings.
The Sadeghi Goldar Santoor is made from the finest walnut wood carefully handpicked by skilled craftsmen.
The gorgeous finish and delicate decoration scattered around this stunning instrument are definitely going to impress you.
This impressive work of art can be used by both greenhorn players still learning the basics and professional players looking to taking their skill to the next level.
This Dulcimer comes with a tuning wrench, some strings, two extra hammers and a hard case you can use to store and carry the instrument around.
The Sadeghi Goldar Santoor is undeniably a masterpiece with a couple of incredible features. However, it has one issue. Some customers complained that this dulcimer is pricy. But of course, this takes nothing from the quality and the performance of this dulcimer.
So, if you are looking for a unique hammered dulcimer with excellent sound quality and finishing, the Sadeghi Goldar Santoor will be perfect for you.
- Suitable for beginners and Professionals
- Intricate design and decorations
- It comes with accessories
- It is durable
- It is pricy
Alizadeh Persian Santoor – Budget Pick
- Top and back wood: walnut
- Weight: 10 lb
- Courses: 12
- Octaves: 2-1/2
More features: 1-year warranty, hard case and hammers included
The Alizadeh Persian Santoor is a rugged, budget-friendly, and a high performance dulcimer with an aesthetically appealing look. Its superior finishing, remarkable sound quality, and sophisticated design set it apart from others out there.
The body of the Alizadeh Persian Santoor is made from high-quality walnut wood which is a tough and resistant wood type. Since it is sturdy, you have the freedom to play it for long hours without it falling apart.
Unlike other hammered dulcimers on the market that weights up to 14 lb and above, the Alizadeh Persian Santoor weighs a mere 10lb. Since it is lightweight, you will be able to move it around without stressing yourself out.
This dulcimer comes with a special hard case you can use to store or carry it conveniently. It also comes with a couple of strings. So, if any of the strings accidentally breaks while you are playing, you won’t need to panic.
To ensure that this instrument produces the best sound, it comes with a special tuning tool that is easy to use. This instrument also comes with a pair of hammers.
Obviously, the Alizadeh Persian Santoor is a top-notch instrument, but it has a few downsides. Some customers complained that the interment is a little difficult to tune. Also, it isn’t a good fit for elite players.
So, if you are looking for a high-quality dulcimer, but on a tight budget, the Alizadeh Persian Santoor will be good for you.
- It is budget friendly
- It comes with accessories
- It is durable
- It is easy to play
- It might not be an ideal option for Elite players
- It is difficult to tune
How to know the hammered from the mountain dulcimer?
While the hammered and the mountain dulcimer can both be used to produce beautiful and melodious sounds, they aren’t the same. Mountain dulcimers, which are also known as lap or Appalanchian dulcimer, usually have either a teardrop or an hourglass shape. Most mountain dulcimers come with 3 or 4 strings (2 drone strings and 1 or 2 melody strings).
The hammered dulcimer, which is commonly known as the santoor is an ancient instrument that has been around for hundreds of years. The instrument has two long bridges and 23 or more pairs of strings suspended across the soundboard. The strings are held in place or stuck with flat, short wooden mallets. The hammered dulcimer is known by many for its sweet and resonating tone.
Santoor playing tips
Learning how to play the hammered dulcimer is not an easy business. Regardless of how much you practice, you aren’t going to become a professional player overnight. But if you are disciplined and make time to practice every day, you are surely going to get better at it. If you want to become a better player quicker, you may need to sign up for training classes or do deep and extensive research on how to play the instrument better. The following video sheds light on some important playing tips and provides answers to some frequently asked questions:
This is one of the most important features you should give thought to before making a purchase especially if you are buying it for the first time. If you are new to the instrument, you might think that buying a pricy model will help you learn quicker and play better. But the truth is that it won’t. In fact, it may hurt your progress, as it is designed for professional players.
If you are an amateur player, it is best you opt for models that are designed for beginners like the Masterworks Sapelli Pioneer Package.
On the other hand, if you are a professional player looking to taking your skill to the next level or replacing your current instrument with a better one, then you can opt for any of the top-notch hammered dulcimer models on the market like the Sadeghi Goldar Santoor.
Regardless of how long you have been playing or how experienced you are, you should never opt for low quality or super cheap models, as they are made with low-quality materials and may fall apart after a while. If you are looking for a good dulcimer but on a tight budget, then you should go for high quality but budget-friendly models like the Alizadeh Persian Santoor.
Features to consider while buying the best hammered dulcimer
Buying a hammered dulcimer is by no means a walk in the park, with so many models out there; it is likely going to be difficult for you to narrow down the one that will suit your needs. To increase the odds of you picking a good one, it is important that you consider some important features like weight, soundboard quality, size, and so on. In this section, we are going to be looking at some of these features and how they affect the performance of the instrument.
Choose the wood wisely
Regardless of the hammered dulcimer model you intend going for; it is wise that you check the wood it is made of before making a purchase. While dulcimers that are made from solid wood are usually expensive, they are more durable and have better sound quality.
To improve the overall tonality and performance of the instrument, some builders use different wood to make the various parts (back, bridges, and soundboard) of the dulcimer.
Bridges are usually made of hardwood like walnut, maple, paduak, and rosewood. Hardwood offers brighter and richer tones.
The soundboard is commonly made of spruce, cedar, or mahogany. Mahogany offers a sweet, warm tone. Spruce, on the other hand, offers a brighter and melodious sound. Other wood types are somewhere in between.
Size of the instrument
The size of a hammered dulcimer often determines how expensive it will be. Keep in mind that you don’t need to buy larger models to play well especially if you are new to the instrument. However, if you are a professional player, you can opt for a standard or larger model as they have more function and can register low notes.
The size of a hammered dulcimer also determines the number of courses it will have. A course simply refers to a set of strings.
On smaller dulcimer, the right bridge usually comes with 11 to 12 strings on the bass. The left bridge, on the other hand, usually has 13 to 14 strings on the treble. The entire set is commonly called a 12/11 or a 13/12.
The soundboard is the piece of wood where the bridge of the dulcimer rests. It is designed to transfer vibrations from the strings to the rest of the instrument. Since the soundboard can affect the tonality of the instrument, it is wise that you opt for top-notch models like the Masterworks Sapelli Pioneer Package or the Roosebeck Hammered Dulcimer whose soundboards are made with high-quality wood like spruce, cedar, or mahogany.
The soundboard of most hammered dulcimers on the market comes in two designs: fixed and floating. Fixed soundboard cannot be removed as the naming implies, floating soundboard sits on the bottom part of the dulcimer commonly known as the box and is removable.
Weight of the Santoor
This is a very important factor you must consider, regardless of the model you want to purchase, as it can determine if you will be able to move it around with ease or not. If you are going to be taking the instrument with you during your travels or to class, then you should opt for lighter models like the Sadeghi Goldar Santoor. On the other hand, if it is going to be a parlor instrument or you aren’t going to be travelling with it, then you can opt for an average weight or heavier models like the Masterworks Sapelli Pioneer Package.
Strings and bridges
Unlike a mountain dulcimer with few strings, hammered dulcimers come with a lot of strings which are usually grouped and tied to the left side of the instrument. They are well stretched and can easily be tuned with pins. Most dulcimers on the market have two strings per course. Of course, there are models that have 3 or 4 strings per course to help increase the volume of the instrument.
A bridge is a strip of wood that has a small rod of metal or plastic on its top referred to as a bridge cap.
To ensure better sound quality, you may need to tune your hammered dulcimer every now and then. Some dulcimer models come with tuning pins you easily use to tweak the instrument to your taste. While some dulcimer models are easy to tune, others are very difficult. So, whether you are going for a budget-friendly or an expensive model, it is wise that you check if it is easy to tune before making a final decision. If for some reason you aren’t able to tune your dulcimer or it doesn’t say tuned, chances are it has a structural issue.
Sound – loud and pure
The quality of a sound produced by a hammered dulcimer is determined by factors like- wood and string quality, tuning, size, and so on. While some of these factors can be addressed, others cannot. For example, if your instrument isn’t playing well because it isn’t well tuned, you can easily address that issue by tuning it. On the other hand, if it is not playing well because it is made with low-quality wood, there is pretty much nothing you can do about it. If you are looking for high-quality dulcimers that can produce a loud, pure and inspiring sound, then opt for high-quality models like the Sadeghi Goldar Santoor or the Masterworks Sapelli Pioneer Package.
This is a very important feature you should pay close attention to as it can save you from spending money on important accessories you can get for free. Some hammered dulcimer models come with accessories you will need to play it, tune it, and carry the instrument. For example, the Masterworks Sapelli Pioneer Package comes with an electronic tuner and a carry case.
Feel free to add something you think is important and relevant, and please mention some of the products reviewed as examples in the buying guide, where appropriate.
No, you shouldn’t. Old or used dulcimers usually offer a weak and uneven tone. This may either be because it has corroded stings, old or weak body.
If you are new to the instrument it is likely going to take you a while. But with some practice, you will get better and will be able to tune the instrument in less than 15 minutes.
Yes, you can. There are a lot of online and offline resources and tools that can help you become a better player.
While we were impressed by all the hammered dulcimers reviewed in this guide, here are our 3 best picks.
The Masterworks Sapelli Pioneer Package, our editor’s choice, took the number one spot on our list. Its sleek design, solid body, and excellent sound quality make it one of the best-hammered dulcimers on the market and a must have for beginners.
Our second best-hammered dulcimer, the Roosebeck Hammered Dulcimer is a beautiful, sturdy and durable instrument with a lot of impressive features. What set it apart from others out there is its remarkable sound quality and flawless finishing.
Our third best pick, the Alizadeh Persian Santoor is an affordable, lightweight and high-performance dulcimer that is perfect for beginners and experts alike. So, if you are on a budget, the Alizadeh Persian Santoor will be perfect for you.
We hope our guide will help ease your search for the best hammered dulcimer on the market that will suit your needs.