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JRS Hammered

Dulcimer Options

     JRS Professional Introductory and Professional Recording model Hammered Dulcimers are bespoke instruments, built to order specifically for the customer who purchases one. The rare exceptions are typically instruments we have built to experiment on in our continuing quest to improve the quality of our dulcimers. We offer many options of ways that you may customize your dulcimer to make it uniquely yours.

Customizations include:

  • Soundboard Options:

    • Quartersawn African Mahogany or Sapele

    • Quartersawn Sitka Spruce

    • Variable Gradient Density© Soundboard (+$375-$650; included on Concertmaster & Grande Concertmaster Models)

  • Staining Options:

    • Custom Stained Soundboard (+$200)

    • Custom Stained Back (+$200)

  • Edge Binding

    • Solid Curly Maple (+$155)

    • Laminated Edge Binding (+$195; included on Concertmaster & Grande Concertmaster Models)

    • Add Abalone Along Edge Binding (+$350 above the cost of the Edge Binding)

  • Internal Sealant (+$100; included on Concertmaster & Grande Concertmaster Models)

  • Premium Polished Finish (+$925; included on Concertmaster & Grande Concertmaster Models)

  • Corner Scroll Options:

    • Standard Corner Scrolls

    • Filigree Corner Scrolls (+$100)

    • Animal Filigree Corner Scrolls (+$150)

    • Premium Corner Scroll Designs

      • Blackberry Corner Scrolls (+$300)

    • Custom Designs (+$100 per hour, plus laser run time)

  • Soundhole Rosette Options:

    • Standard Rosette Options (Included at no charge):

      • JRS Double Rosettes

      • Celtic Knot Rosettes

      • Compass Rosettes

      • Navigator Rosettes

      • Explorer Rosettes

    • Premium Rosette Designs:

      • Blackberry Rosettes (+$200)

    • Custom Designs (+$100 per hour, plus laser run time)

    • Add Abalone Rings to Rosettes (+$250 per pair)

  • Bridge Position Markers

    • Curly Maple with Purpleheart

    • Curly Maple with Abalone Inlays (+$175-$225)

  • Bridge Wood

    • Walnut Bridges

    • Bolivian Rosewood (+$110-$170; included on Concertmaster & Grande Concertmaster Models)

    • Katalox (+$125-$185; +$15 for Concertmaster & Grande Concertmaster Models)

  • Dampers (Not available on 16/16 Compass Models)

    • Internal Prep for Cable-Drive Linear Bearing Dampers (+$150; included on Concertmaster & Grande Concertmaster Models)

    • Cable-Drive Linear Bearing Damper System (+$1585-$1595)

    • Economy Dampers (+$1085-$1095)

  • JRS/Schatten Dual-Piezo Internal Stereo Pick-Up System (+$395)

Soundboard Options

Quartersawn African Mahogany or Sapele:

Our Sapele is beautifully Quartersawn and imported by someone I've dealt with for the last 35 years. It provides the “warmest” tone of any of the options we afford you. -JRS

Quartersawn Sitka Spruce:

Our Pacific Northwest American Sitka Spruce is “finely” Quartersawn. This choice starts out “brighter” than our Sapele but warms wonderfully over the years. This is America's choice over German Silver Spruce. -JRS

Variable Gradient Density© Soundboard:

This Option is a revelation given to me over 20 years ago that combines elements of both of the above options in ONE soundboard. After we custom laminate the two soundboards ... we then taper both sides to effectuate both high-end brilliance and clarity as well as low-end depth and warmth. An added benefit of the VGD option is that it can eliminate “hot-spots.” -JRS

The VGD soundboard can be made with either Sapele or Spruce on top with minimal effect on the tone, so you can choose the look you prefer.

The VGD upgrade cost varies depending on the model:

JRS Explorer: $650

JRS Navigator: $460

JRS Compass: $375

Custom Stains

We can custom stain a full palette of stain options to the pleasure of the customer. -JRS

Custom Stains are available for both the soundboard and back of your dulcimer. Please note that while we can do our best to match a color on a previous instrument there will be variations due to different species of wood, or even different pieces of the same type of wood. Matching pictures can also suffer from calibration differences in different screens.

Custom Staining is $200 for either the top or back, $400 for both.

Edge Binding

Historically, edge binding was originally created to “seal” any exposed end grain which can be more
affected by moisture, etc. It gives a very attractive delineation between the end rails and the soundboard. This is strictly a design option (no structural advantage). -JRS

    Edge Bindings are a strip of a different, usually contrasting, wood added along the joint between the Soundboard and the End Rails. Our most basic offering for Edge Binding is to use solid Curly Maple for $155.

     We also offer a Laminated Edge Binding which adds the extra decorative effect of a thin line of Purpleheart wood and Maple between the Soundboard and the Curly Maple piece. This option is $195, but is included as standard on Grande Concertmasters and Concertmasters.

     If you prefer a different wood than Curly Maple for adding an Edge Binding to your dulcimer, please contact us to discuss the possibilities.

Internal Sealant

This option gives an added “layer” of protection against the effects of moisture, humidity and/or atmospheric
barometric pressure changes! -JRS

     This option provides a coat of marine epoxy on the internal surfaces of the instrument. While it is included on our Professional Recording models, it is a $100 upgrade to add it to the Explorer, Navigator, or Compass models.

Damper Systems

     We offer two different damper systems here at Song of the Wood. One is the Economy Damper System, and the other is our flagship Cable-Drive Linear Bearing Damper System. Dampers are not necessary to play a hammered dulcimer, most do not have them. However, they can be very useful to some playing styles. They enable you to cut the sustain at will, and playing with them engaged changes the tone of a hammered dulcimer to sound something like a stringed version of a marimba. Please note: Dampers are not available on our 16/16/9 Compass model due to space constraints.

Economy Dampers


     This design is more widely employed by other builders. It consists of cords attached in two places for each damper bar. Each cord loops through the sound chamber, one on the right side and the other on the left. They are brought together by a carabiner style clip that holds another cord that descends down to the foot pedal (not a piano style).


Economy Dampers Advantages:

  • Lower cost

  • Simpler set-up - clip your pedal to the cord loops and you are ready to go.

  • Externally mounted - no internal structure required. May be mounted on a dulcimer without internal damper prep work.

Economy Dampers Disadvantages:

  • Not removable

  • Damper bars make string changes more difficult.

  • Damper bars increase the difficulty of tuning.

  • Foot pedal placement is limited to the center of the dulcimer's footprint.

  • The external springs are difficult to adjust, and very difficult to fine-tune clearance over the strings.

  • Less efficient system - more force is required to dampen the strings and more force is applied to your dulcimer's stand.

Cable-Drive Linear Bearing Dampers


     This Damper System took Jerry a little over a year to develop. Until this design no builder was using bicycle gear cables to effectuate the dampers. He also incorporated a “piano style” foot pedal which frees the pedal from needing to be directly below the instrument. The damper bars are easily removable for string changing. Piano felt mutes the strings to varying degrees depending upon the players depression of the pedal tongue which extenuates the players dynamic potential. -JRS

Cable-Drive Linear-Bearing Dampers Advantages:

  • Easy to remove and replace.

    • Removing the damper bars can make string changes easier.

    • The option of removing the damper bars increases the ease of tuning.

    • No need to keep damper bars in place when you don't need them.

  • Quick set-up in under a minute

  • Internal Springs - linear action of the damper bars for greater efficiency.

  • Cable-Driven with derailleur cables

    • Foot pedal may be placed anywhere within the cables' reach for optimum player comfort.

    • Pressure from depressing the dampers is self-contained within the system, meaning that your stand is not bearing any excess pressure (i.e. part of your weight and the dulcimer).

  • Piano-style foot pedal - provides more mechanical advantage:

    • Dampening your strings requires less effort.

    • More potential to feather the amount you mute the strings.

  • Fine-tuning adjustments - multiple ways to fine-tune the action of the damper system.

  • Beautiful laser-engraved text, including the model of your dulcimer, on the damper bars, and a detailed Song of the Wood logo engraved on the top of the foot pedal.

  • A more elegant and refined look.

Cable-Drive Linear-Bearing Dampers Disadvantages:

  • Distinctly higher cost

  • Extra tools (provided) and the case for the foot pedal to carry.

  • Larger learning curve

Internal Prep for Cable-Drive Linear Bearing Dampers


     If you think you may want to add the Cable-Drive Damper System to your dulcimer at a future date after you receive your instrument, you can ask us to add the internal support structures that are required to install that system when we are building your dulcimer. This must be done at the time of construction because once the soundboard is on we no longer have access to place the necessary components.

     With this option, you may choose to have us install the CDLB Damper System at a later date when you feel ready for it.

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