Change A Hammered Dulcimer String: Loosen tuning pin, remove old string’s loop, insert new string loop, hook onto hitch pin, stretch and tune gradually. Trim excess.

Understanding the Anatomy of a Hammered Dulcimer String

Hammered dulcimers consist of multiple strings stretched across a wooden soundboard, each contributing to the instrument’s distinct timbre. Before you embark on the string-changing journey, it’s essential to understand the various parts of a dulcimer string.

Change A Hammered Dulcimer String
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Exploring the components

Dulcimer strings comprise the core, winding, bridge pin, hitch pin, and tuning pin. The core is the central wire that produces sound vibrations, while the winding is an outer layer that affects tone and durability. The bridge pin and hitch pin secure the strings, and the tuning pin enables tension adjustments.

Selecting the right string

Choosing the appropriate string gauge and material greatly influences your dulcimer’s sound. Lighter strings tend to produce brighter tones, while heavier ones offer deeper tones. The material, such as steel or bronze, can affect sustain and tonal richness.

Necessary Tools and Preparations

Before you begin the string replacement process, gather the necessary tools and create an organized workspace.

Tools required

You’ll need wire cutters, a tuning wrench, a string winder, a peg shaper, a cloth, and replacement strings. These tools will facilitate a smooth string-changing experience.

Preparing the workspace

Find a well-lit, clean, and clutter-free area to work in. Lay down a soft cloth to prevent scratching the dulcimer’s surface, and ensure you have ample space to maneuver comfortably.

Step-by-Step Guide to Changing a Hammered Dulcimer String

Now that you’re equipped with the right knowledge and tools, let’s delve into the step-by-step process of changing a hammered dulcimer string.

Removing the old string

  1. Use the tuning wrench to loosen the tuning pin of the string you’re replacing.
  2. Once the string is slack, unwind it from the tuning pin.
  3. Gently remove the other end of the string from the bridge pin and hitch pin.
Change A Hammered Dulcimer String
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Preparing the new string

  1. Measure and cut the new string to match the length of the old one.
  2. Insert the cut end of the string through the bridge pin hole.
  3. Wind the other end around the hitch pin and secure it.

Tuning the new string

  1. Insert the other end of the string into the tuning pin hole.
  2. Use the peg shaper to create a slight angle on the string near the tuning pin.
  3. Begin winding the string onto the tuning pin, making sure each turn is neat and tight.
  4. Use the tuning wrench to tighten the string while plucking it to gradually bring it to the desired pitch.

Best Practices for Maintaining Dulcimer Strings

Once you’ve successfully changed a hammered dulcimer string, it’s crucial to maintain the overall health of your strings for optimal sound quality and longevity.

Regular cleaning

Wipe down your strings after each playing session to remove dirt, oil, and sweat. This simple habit can extend the life of your strings and maintain their bright tones.

Proper tuning

Avoid over-tightening your strings, as excessive tension can lead to string breakage or damage to the instrument. Use a reliable electronic tuner to ensure accurate pitch.

String rotation

To distribute wear and tear evenly, periodically switch the positions of your strings. This prevents one string from becoming significantly weaker than the others.

How often do you change the strings on a hammered dulcimer?

Maintaining optimal sound quality and playability requires periodic string changes. Depending on usage and string quality, a hammered dulcimer’s strings are typically replaced annually.

To change them, follow these steps:

  1. Loosen old strings.
  2. Remove loop from tuning pins.
  3. Insert new string’s loop, secure on hitch pin.
  4. Gradually stretch and tune the string.
  5. Trim excess length.

When should I replace my dulcimer strings?

Replace dulcimer strings if they show signs of wear, such as rust, fraying, or reduced resonance. A dulcimer may also require new strings if it struggles to hold tune or produces dull tones. Regular maintenance prevents tonal degradation.

Change A Hammered Dulcimer String
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How much does it cost to restring a hammered dulcimer?

Restringing costs vary based on string quality and labor. Basic sets can be around $20, while premium sets may cost $50 or more. Professional restringing services could add an additional cost of $50 to $100. Considering the enhanced tonal quality, it’s a worthwhile investment for dedicated players.


How often should I change my hammered dulcimer strings?

The frequency of string changes depends on your playing style, the environment, and the quality of the strings. On average, changing strings every 3 to 6 months is a good guideline. However, if you notice a loss of tonal quality or visible signs of wear, consider changing them sooner.

Can I use any type of string on my hammered dulcimer?

It’s recommended to use strings specifically designed for hammered dulcimers. These strings are engineered to withstand the instrument’s unique tension and produce the desired tonal characteristics. Using strings intended for other instruments may result in poor sound quality, tuning instability, or potential damage.

Is it normal for new strings to take time to settle and hold their pitch?

Yes, new strings require some time to stretch and settle. After installing new strings, it’s common for them to go slightly out of tune during the initial few days of playing. Regular tuning during this period will help the strings stabilize and maintain their pitch more effectively.


Changing a hammered dulcimer string might seem like a daunting task, but with the right knowledge and tools, it becomes a manageable and even rewarding experience. By understanding the components of the dulcimer string, preparing adequately, and following the step-by-step process, you’ll be able to maintain the beautiful tones of your instrument for years to come. Remember, proper maintenance not only enhances your playing experience but also prolongs the life of your hammered dulcimer’s strings and overall sound quality.