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Top 5 Best Mountain Dulcimers in 2023

If you want one of the best mountain dulcimers, then you need to continue reading. Even if you have never heard of this instrument before, we provide all of the information that will make you want to run out and purchase one today.

The mountain dulcimer is a surprisingly young American instrument. Its history begins in the Appalachian Mountains in the later 1700s.

So, if you are someone who likes classifications, the dulcimer is a type of zither—an instrument with a flat sound box and strings stretched horizontally across it. The dulcimer is still considered a folk instrument and is typically made out of wood by hand.

Why does the mountain dulcimer’s construction matter? Read on to find out.

Best Mountain Dulcimers


Top 5 Best Mountain Dulcimers of 2023

1 Seagull Merlin Mahogany SG Dulcimer

Summary of features: Mahogany top; rock maple, string-through body; rock maple neck- 1.280-inch nut width, 2 lbs.


  • The Seagull Merlin Mahogany has a light and compact design. At only two pounds, it is easy for anyone to hold and play for a while without tiring.
  • Also, the four strings and six frets on this mountain dulcimer make it very accessible for beginners.
  • Seagull uses only the finest wood in their products. Therefore, the Merlin Mahogany is made from solid mahogany (on the top) and rock maple (the back and neck). The construction is solid enough to last a long time.


  • You can purchase cases, stands, straps, and polish for the Merlin Mahogany, but these are all separate. Seagull does not include any accessories with the purchase of their mountain dulcimer.
  • The Seagull Merlin Mahogany SG Dulcimer is designed for beginners. So, it only has four strings. If you want to play more complicated or chordal music, you will need another instrument.
  • Also, this mountain dulcimer only has six frets. Again, this is because the instrument is designed for beginners. But, the Seagull Merlin may not be an appropriate instrument for advanced players.
Seagull Merlin Mahogany SG Dulcimer
Our rating:4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)

The creators of the Merlin Mahogany SG Dulcimer are named Seagull Guitars. Robert Godin founded Seagull in 1982 in LaPatrie, Quebec. Since their beginnings, Seagull has prided themselves on creating the best hand-crafted guitars and other fretted products.

But that’s not all . . .

All of Seagull’s creations, including the Merlin Mahogany, are made sustainably. Therefore, you know that you are receiving a wonderful mountain dulcimer made from the best products. Finally, the Merlin Mahogany comes with a limited lifetime warranty, which just proves Seagull’s commitment to and confidence in their products.

2 Roosebeck Grace Mountain Dulcimer

(Includes pick, noter, draw-string bag, and owner’s guide.)

Summary of features: 1.25-inch nut width; solid sheesham construction; spruce soundboard; 5.25 lbs.


  • Sheesham is also called dalbergia sissoo and is a North Indian hardwood. The Grace Mountain Dulcimer comes with a solid sheesham construction, which makes it very durable.
  • Roosebeck’s Grace Mountain Dulcimer comes with four strings: two melody strings, one middle string, and a drone string. While this string set up may not work for advance players, it is wonderful for beginners.
  • The look of the Grace Mountain Dulcimer is great. It is a traditional-looking and graceful instrument. If you want a dulcimer that looks like a dulcimer, this is the instrument for you.


  • The available line of Grace Mountain Dulcimers is blemished. Each instrument will have a slightly different blemish. However, this doesn’t mean that the instruments are not playable. You can play them just fine. But, they will not be perfect.
  • It can be hard to restring the Grace Mountain Dulcimer. The string slots in the pegs are quite small and can be hard for the inexperienced to use.
Roosebeck Grace Mountain Dulcimer
Our rating:4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)

Roosebeck is known for their folk instruments. For example, a quick Google search shows that Roosebeck designed world drums, flutes, psalters, harps, and pretty much any other world or folk instrument you can think of.

Roosebeck’s Grace Mountain Dulcimer proves why the company is so well-known in the folk instrument industry. Its solid wood and classic design attracts a lot of notice. And, its great sound proves that this instrument is not all about looks. Therefore, if you are a beginner, you need to try out the Roosebeck Grace. Or, if you prefer acoustic guitars, you can read more about the best acoustic guitars for beginners here.

3 Applecreek ACD100 Dulcimer

Summary of features: Maple neck and fingerboard; laminated spruce top, back, and sides; 2 lbs.


  • Although this is a beginner instrument, Applecreek has still included 6+ frets. Thus, this mountain dulcimer will advance with your skill level.
  • At only two pounds, the Applecreek ACD100 Dulcimer is perfect for young people or those who have not built-up their playing endurance.
  • Applecreek has constructed their ACD100 Dulcimer from maple and laminated spruce. Therefore, it is durable and will wear well.


  • Applecreek has designed the ACD100 mountain dulcimer for utilitarian purposes. So, it is not going to be the most beautiful instrument you’ve ever seen. However, people with children will love the durability of this instrument.
  • The Applecreek ACD100 does not come with any accessories. You have to purchase them separately. Thus, if you don’t want to spend any extra money, you may need to consider another instrument.
Applecreek ACD100 Dulcimer
Our rating:4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Another entry-level mountain dulcimer, the Applecreek ACD100 Dulcimer is made for the beginner. It has a solid, all-wood, teardrop-shaped body. The wood used is spruce and maple, which will look good for a long time.

And that’s not all . . .

Applecreek’s ACD100 Dulcimer is easy to pick up and play. It comes with the standard four strings for beginners (two melody, one middle, and one bass). You can even tune it with a guitar tuner. So, if you have purchased on of the best classical guitars on the market or one of the best electric guitars for beginners, you can use your existing equipment with this mountain dulcimer.

4 Seagull M4 Mahogany Dulcimer W/ EQ

Summary of features: Rock maple construction; string-through body; B-Band electronics with a tuner; mahogany body; 2.9 lbs.


  • Seagull’s M4 Mahogany Dulcimer comes with EQ to better control and smooth out your sound.
  • Seagull has designed the M$ to be compact and light. And, it is easy to take with you while travelling.
  • The M4 Mahogany is hand-made in LaPatrie, Canada from sustainably sourced maple and mahogany. The instrument itself and the earth are helped by the construction of the M4 Mahogany.


  • This is a new mountain dulcimer, so it can be hard to find one in stock.
  • With the addition of electronics, there are more parts to go wrong on the M4 Mahogany. Plus, if you prefer an acoustic sound, this instrument will not be for you.
Seagull M4 Mahogany Dulcimer w/EQ
Our rating:5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

Seagull is a Canadian guitar and fretted instrument company. They have been in business since 1982. Throughout their life, they have made a name for themselves as producers of high-quality, hand-made instruments.

The M4 Mahogany Dulcimer is no different. . . .

The M4 Mahogany is part of Seagull’s new product line, released in 2017. It is the only mountain dulcimer on our list. And, it is compact and light. Truly, this instrument has everything you could want in a mountain dulcimer. 

5 Roosebeck Emma Mountain Dulcimer

(Includes pick, noter, and owner’s guide.)

Summary of Features: 1.25-inch nut width; spruce soundboard; solid sheesham construction; 4.8 lbs. 


  • Roosebeck’s Emma Mountain Dulcimer comes with a vaulted fretboard. This feature, along with the spruce soundboard, make the instrument vibrate and produce a better sound.
  • The Emma is made of solid wood, sheesham for the body, neck, nut, bridge, and fretboard and spruce for the soundboard.


  • The Emma is a bright sounding instrument. This tone is perfect for some uses. But, if you want a dark instrument, you should look elsewhere.
  • You can purchase a bag for this mountain dulcimer. But, it is not a hard case. Therefore, you will still need to be careful when storing the instrument.
Roosebeck Emma Mountain Dulcimer
Our rating:5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

Roosebeck’s Emma Mountain Dulcimer is very similar to their Grace, which appears earlier on this top five list. However, the Emma is shaped slightly differently and 6+ fret design. The Emma is easy to play and tune. Thus, this is a perfect instrument for the beginning and advanced player.

Best Mountain Dulcimers Buying Guide

But, how to choose between the mountain dulcimers on our top five list? That is the question. And, luckily for you, we have the answer. Just read through our buyer’s guide below to learn all of the important aspects to consider when purchasing a mountain dulcimer.

  • Type of wood

The best mountain dulcimers should be made from solid wood. For example, all of the mountain dulcimers on our top five list are completely made from wood. However, the type of wood used is just as important.

There are a number of different woods that you will find on modern mountain dulcimers. Most of these woods are still found in the Appalachian Mountains. Some common wood types are hardwoods like cherry, walnut, chestnut, sassafras, and poplar. Typically, the soundboards on mountain dulcimers are made from soft woods like spruce or cedar.

We recommend trying mountain dulcimers with various woods. Each wood creates a slightly different sound. And, this experimentation will help you discover the sound you prefer. But, stay away from mountain dulcimers made of plywood. They may sound okay, but they are much less durable than their hardwood cousins.

  • Frets

Frets tell you where to put your fingers. In mountain dulcimers, like guitars, the frets are fixed. Therefore, the frets can not move around the fretboard. Frets are placed perpendicularly to the strings. And, you place you fingers on a fret—or multiple frets if you are playing a chord—to play a note.

The number of frets on your mountain dulcimer is important. Modern mountain dulcimer builders will create instruments with 6+ or 6 ½ frets. Both of these number signify that there are over six frets on the instrument. If there are four frets close together in the middle of the fretboard, you are looking at a 6+ fretted instrument.           

  • Strings

Unlike other types of instruments, the mountain dulcimer can have a different number of strings. Anything from three to eight strings are common. So, the number of strings you need greatly depends on how you plan on playing the instrument. Most strings enable you to play chords better, but it can make the mountain dulcimer hard to learn.

Additionally, mountain dulcimer strings can come in a variety of lengths. 28 and 30 inches are the most popular. But, you will also find strings of even longer length.

String length is important because it effects the tension. And, tension on stringed instruments greatly impacts tone color and pitch. Therefore, longer strings mean a higher pitch and brighter tone (timbre). Mountain dulcimers with shorter strings will have a lower pitch and a muted timbre.


The mountain dulcimer is an amazing instrument. And, it’s all-American. Thus, it is a great choice for anyone who lover Americana. But, don’t let the strangeness of the mountain dulcimer fool you. There is not much too finding one of the best mountain dulcimers out there.

We hope that today’s article about mountain dulcimers has opened your eyes to the beauty and majesty of this instrument. So, if you want to play American folk music, you need one of the mountain dulcimers on our top five list. But, you don’t have to be a folk musician to love the mountain dulcimer. Anyone can enjoy this instrument. Try one today and find out for yourself.

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About Joseph L. Hollen

Joseph is a session musician, writer, and filmmaker from south Florida. He has recorded a number of albums and made numerous short films, as well as contributing music to shorts and commercials. 

He doesn't get as much time to practice and play as he used to, but still manages (just about!) to fulfill all his session requests. According to Joseph, it just gets harder as you get older; you rely on what you learned decades ago and can play without thinking. Thankfully that's what most producers still want from him.

He is a devout gear heat and has been collecting musical instruments all his life. As his wife, Jill, keeps on saying, "You're very good at buying nice instruments, but terrible at selling them!".

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