top of page
The Jerry Read Smith

Grande Concertmaster


     The JRS Grande Concertmaster is a 5 octave (4 Chromatic) Hammered Dulcimer.  This is for the serious, professional player and/or recording artist, who is looking for a hammered dulcimer with the purest tone and best tonal balance available today. It is available in either an XR model with the Super Bass Bridge on the right of the instrument or an XL model with that bridge on the left.

Standard Features:

     Each new instrument includes a Tuning and String Gauge Chart, Star Tip “T” Handle Tuning Wrench, Battery Powered Digital Chromatic Tuner, Hammers, String Polishing Cake, and a Song of the Wood Case.


Base Price - $4395


Cable Drive/Linear Bearing Damper System Available: $1050.00

Internal JRS Stereo Pickup Available: $325.00

Many more custom options available!

Call 828-301-1622 to order. 

Asymmetrical Body Design with
2/22/22/12 Bridge Configuration

     Covering 5 octaves of range, the JRS Grande Concertmaster has 4 octaves that are fully chromatic, with every half-step of the octave available. We use a 1-inch course spacing, keeping every note within reach even with 22 courses on each of the Treble & Bass Bridges. The 2-course Chromatic Bridge at the top left and the two highest courses on the Treble & Bass provide the missing chromatic notes in the high end of the scale, while the 12-course Super Bass Bridge provides the missing low chromatic notes and opens another diatonic octave of deeper bass range.

     The Asymmetrical Body Design allows the Treble Bridge to be vertical and the Bass Bridge to reside much nearer to the Treble so you don't have to reach as far across the "valley".

Right-Side Super Bass Bridge
Optional Left-Side Super Bass Bridge

     Placing the Super Bass Bridge on the far right continues the natural progression of the hammered dulcimer from the highest notes in the upper left to the deepest notes in the lower right. This makes the most sense and feels the most natural to us, so it is the standard layout we provide.


     If you have experience with a left-side Super Bass Bridge and prefer that position, we can customize that for you and place yours on the left.

Variable Gradient Density Soundboards

     The Variable Gradient Density Soundboard© is a feature uniquely available to Song of the Wood instruments. Jerry developed the idea several years ago as a way to blend the best tonal aspects of Sitka Spruce and Mahogany. Two soundboards are laminated together and tapered in reverse of each other, such that there is more Sitka Spruce and little Mahogany near the Top Rail, but at the Bottom Rail the Mahogany is much thicker than the Spruce. You can see part it if you look at the edge of the soundboard in the image above.

     This innovation provides a "tonal gradient" from the bright tones of the Spruce in the high treble notes to the rich, warm timbre if the Mahogany in bass range.

     In production for over a decade, this feature is a tried-and-true favorite feature our customers enjoy.

Tapered Pinblocks with Double & Triple Spline Finger Joints

     All of our Hammered Dulcimers feature tapered Pinblocks. This singular aspect of Song of the Wood Dulcimers results in a more massive Bass Chamber for warmer and more complex low tones.

     Due to the tapering of the Pinblock and Tonal Chamber, the Top Rail has Double Spline Finger Joints while the Bottom Rail utilizes Triple Spline Joints.

     Finger Joints are more difficult to construct than the Butt Joints traditionally incorporated in Hammered Dulcimer construction, but we feel increased strength of the joint is worth the effort in light of the vast stresses the instrument is under. Those forces only increase the more strings an instrument has, and our Grande Concertmaster possesses 101 strings.

Tapered Soundboard

     Our Soundboards are tapered in multiple ways. The edges are thinner to allow more movement in the soundboard, helping the music to project more.

     We also taper them top-to-bottom on the Professional Recording models, reducing the mass in the upper reaches where the strings are lighter weight and less able to move the thicker wood.

Laminated Hardwood End Rails

     The End Rails on a Grande Concertmaster are made of two woods laminated together by hand here in our shop. The inner wood is Tulip Poplar for it's light weight and stability while the outer wood we leave to your choice. We have a variety of exotic and domestic hardwoods for you to choose from to tailor the look of your dulcimer with their variety of natural colors and grain patterns.

     Many exotic woods are very strong in themselves, but the lamination process just adds to the strength and stability compared to a solid hardwood End Rail.

Bi-Directionally Pre-Arched Soundboard

     We pre-arch our dulcimer soundboards in two directions to create a slightly domed top. This increases the strength of the soundboard and helps it to resist the dipping over time that is a not uncommon issue among older hammer dulcimers. This is an innovation Jerry implemented early in his building career and remains a feature of our instruments decades later.

Structurally Engineered Soundboard Struts &  Custom Fit Lateral Bracing

     We radically overhauled our Dulcimers' internal structure in 2022. The result is a far stronger structure supporting the soundboard with only a minimal increase in weight. As an added bonus, we think that our Dulcimers sound better than ever before.

     The Lateral Braces in each of our dulcimers are precisely cut to fit the height of the frame of each individual dulcimer. The new design we are using creates substantially stiffer braces that resist the pressure of the string tension trying to bow the body of the instrument.

Solid Tulip Poplar Back

     As part of our premium solid wood construction we use Tulip Poplar to form the back of our Hammered Dulcimers, rather than using a plywood back. Tulip Poplar is often used to build drawers because of it's stability so it won't swell and stick. The same stability applies to the backs of our instruments.

981 Rosette.JPG
Signature Double Soundhole Rosettes

     One of the trademark designs of a Jerry Read Smith Hammered Dulcimer has, for years, been his signature Double Soundhole Rosettes. Once upon a time he cut these out freehand, drilling pilot holes in every opening and cutting one window at a time with a jeweler's saw. These days, fortunately, we have a laser that can do it much faster and with more precision (excellent a job as Jerry may have done back in the day).

     We have a variety of alternative designs for you to choose from, or we will be glad to work with you to make a custom design unique to your own instrument.

     As an upgrade opportunity, we can inlay a ring of abalone around the outer edge of the rosette, adding a beautiful, iridescent gleam.

Signature Corner Scrolls

From the very early days of Jerry's career as a luthier, he incorporated decorative corner scrolls into design of his dulcimers, and we still include them. Corner scrolls are purely asthetic, so you can feel free to choose what ever design you prefer the look of. We have three designs available, and if you want something unique, we would be glad to design a custom set for you.

GCM1028_8 (2)_edited.jpg
bottom of page