For beginners buying their first mountain dulcimer, I usually recommend McSpadden
Dulcimers in Mountain View, Arkansas. The reason is that these dulcimers are of consistent quality, have good tuners,
and include a 6-1/2 fret. They are reasonably priced, and will bring a lifetime of enjoyment. A player can always
move up to a higher quality instrument later, after being sure that they want to continue (which I hope that all players will
do), but many players, including many of the national champions play only McSpadden Dulcimers. McSpadden also usually
keeps a good supply of instruments in stock, so there is very little waiting time.
McSpadden has graciously donated dulcimers to The Memphis Dulcimer Gathering for sale
to support events sponsored by MDG, Inc. Purchasing a dulcimer from MDG, Inc., helps keep dulcimer and folk events available
in the Memphis area.
For those who are more experienced and are looking to upgrade by purchasing a finer
quality instrument, I highly recommend the Blue Lion mountain dulcimers for sound quality and beauty. Bob and Janita Baker build some of the finest instruments available on the market, including
As I have said before, there are many wonderful luthiers, and I have not personally seen
every possible dulcimer. The choice of an instrument is very personal with respect to feel, tone, fretboard length,
action, aesthetics, etc. I have listed below, in alphabetical order, instrument builders that I have had personal contact
with and whom I would recommend to supply a high quality instrument. Also, there are more resources listed on my Links page.
|Click here for info on Blue Lion Instruments
Blue Lion Instruments -- I play a Blue Lion mountain dulcimer most of the time. They are incredible
works of art, both in sound and visually. Don't forget to also check out their beautiful guitars.
Greibhaus Dulcimers -- Looking for something a little edgy? The electric dulcimers built by Jerry Cripe might be just what you
Magowan dulcimers -- Bob Magowan is a builder in Germantown, Tennessee, near Memphis.
I have several of his dulcimers and they are exceptional. He builds to order and does not have a stock of instruments
to sell. If you are interested in talking to Bob about placing an order, please e-mail me, and I will forward your request to Bob.
|built by Bill Rich
Festival. His dulcimers had a great
feel and sound. I
was especially impressed with
his design for adding a
possum board to add
volume while still allowing the wood
on the back
to of the dulcimer to be seen.
Wood-n-Strings Dulcimer Shop -- Mike Clemmer builds traditional mountain dulcimers in his shop located in
Townsend, TN, right on the Parkway. He, his wife Connie, his daughter Cherith, and friend Sharon are always available
to help with your dulcimer selection.
|Mike Clemmer Dulcimer from
|Wood-n-Strings, Townsend, TN
Mike's dulcimers are generally "fiddle-shaped" and are made from native woods. They are lovely,
and their 5-string arrangement accents the heavy droning sound characteristic of the mountain dulcimer. Don't forget
to stop in on Saturday nights for concerts by the river on The Pickin' Porch.
Below are other sources for folk instruments:
Hammered Dulcimers -- Betty Dawson is the local Memphis dealer for Master Works hammered dulcimers. These intruments are some of the finest hammered dulcimers
available on the market today. Betty also offers lessons.
Jake's Cabin -- building the Traveler model hammered dulcimer designed by Rick Thum.
Banjos -- Tommy George hancrafts banjos, banjo-ukes and repairs a variety of instruments in Somerville, TN.
Elderly Instruments -- This company has a large selection of folk instruments and accessories available by mail order. They are a reputable
company and have a knowledgeable staff who are friendly and helpful.
Cica Violin -- Chun-yu builds fine quality handmade violins right here in Memphis at 665 South Highland.