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Best Appalachian Dulcimers For Beginners 2024

The mountain dulcimer is an instrument with fretted strings that allow for the production of a sweet melody when you play it.

While many musicians will insist that it’s a uniquely American instrument, in fact, the sound comes from Scots/Irish settlers in Appalachia.

The good news is that it’s not hard to find an Appalachian dulcimer that sounds great for a reasonable price, to get started with learning the instrument.

What To Look For In A Mountain Dulcimer Or Other Stringed Instruments

We have five things that we expect from a mountain dulcimer that is aimed at beginners:

  • It has to be affordable – you don’t want to waste a fortune and then find out you don’t like the instrument
  • It has to be well-built – assuming you do like playing the mountain dulcimer then you will want it to last
  • It must be comfortable to use – musical instruments that cause discomfort for the user are no good
  • It must deliver solid tones when playing, the melody strings ought to be well integrated into the instrument
  • It should offer a range of sizes so that anyone can play mountain dulcimer without too much effort

The Best Mountain Dulcimer Options For Beginners

Roosebeck Grace Mountain Dulcimer 4-String Vaulted Fretboard Spruce F-Holes

Roosebeck Grace Mountain Dulcimer 4-String Vaulted Fretboard Spruce F-Holes

We really like this dulcimer from the first moment we plucked at the dulcimer strings and the solid wood laminated spruce build is definitely built to last.

If you’re used to playing classical guitar then you shouldn’t find that this is too hard to pick up.

Roosebeck is one of the best dulcimer manufacturers in the business and their mountain dulcimers tend to come with impressive features that you don’t usually find unless you buy mountain dulcimers that cost a lot more money.

However, we should note that some customers appear to have received this instrument damaged when ordering online. This wasn’t our experience but nobody wants a broken middle string when they unbox their instrument either.

Professional European Cherry Mountain Dulcimer w/Case

Professional European Cherry Mountain Dulcimer w/Case

If you think your future is in playing mountain dulcimers then you might want to consider this awesome dulcimer, it’s one of the best mountain dulcimers in our tests and much of that is down to the gorgeous cherry finish on the product.

It has a very distinctive hourglass shape and users say this helps with enabling chord playing.

Not only does this have a great sound but it also comes with a robust, quality case that really feels like value.

Seagull Merlin Mahogany SG Dulcimer Guitar Natural

Seagull Merlin Mahogany SG Dulcimer Guitar Natural

This super-affordable almost teardrop shape dulcimer made of solid mahogany seems to have been inspired by the German lap zither. The rock maple neck is built to last too.

We found that the strings unlike with most cheap teardrop instruments gave out a really great tone when we play chords and it certainly competes with the best offerings on the market today.

One thing you’re going to love about this is the inclusion of a diatonic fretboard which makes it much, much easier to learn the major scale, and if you refer to the owner’s guide, you’ll be playing tunes much faster than you might on other models.

Roosebeck Grace Mountain Dulcimer 4-String Vaulted Fretboard Spruce Knotwork

Roosebeck Grace Mountain Dulcimer 4-String Vaulted Fretboard Spruce Knotwork

This is probably the best-selling beginner dulcimer of them all. It’s super easy to play and you can develop your skills easily and when you reach the quality that you’re aiming for – you can make the kind of music that professionals make on it too.

The wood is very popular as a spruce soundboard leads to the perfect tone from four strings and it’s also likely to last for many years as long as you take care of it properly.

However, some consumers have said they find it harder to keep this dulcimer in tune than some of the other models in our tests.

Final Thoughts On This Awesome Fretted Stringed Instrument

So, there we have it a simple buyer’s guide to what is a relatively simple instrument to learn to play.

It’s worth investing a little more money in a dulcimer made of good wood if you can because this will ensure your purchase lasts for a long time to come.

If you’re getting into this instrument then you should check out our guide to Appalachian Folk Music.