How Big Is A Hammered Dulcimer: The size of a hammered dulcimer can vary, but typically it ranges from 90 to 120 centimeters (35 to 47 inches) in length and 35 to 45 centimeters (14 to 18 inches) in width.

Understanding the Basic Dimensions

The hammered dulcimer is a trapezoidal-shaped instrument with strings stretched across its soundboard. While there is no standardized size for a hammered dulcimer, the general dimensions can vary. Typically, the length of a hammered dulcimer ranges from 90 to 120 centimeters (35 to 47 inches).

How Big Is A Hammered Dulcimer
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The width of the instrument can vary between 35 to 45 centimeters (14 to 18 inches), while the height ranges from 8 to 15 centimeters (3 to 6 inches). These dimensions can slightly vary based on the preferences of the player or the builder.

Factors Influencing Size

  1. Range and Number of Strings: The number of strings and the desired range play a significant role in determining the size of a hammered dulcimer. A larger instrument with more strings will naturally require more space to accommodate the additional strings and produce a broader tonal range.
  2. Musical Style and Tradition: Different musical styles and cultural traditions may favor specific sizes of hammered dulcimers. For instance, some traditional Irish hammered dulcimers tend to be smaller and more compact compared to their counterparts used in Middle Eastern music. These variations are a result of regional preferences and the intended musical context.
  3. Personal Preference: The size of a hammered dulcimer can also be influenced by personal preference. Musicians may choose a size that suits their playing style, comfort, and desired sound projection. Smaller dulcimers may be preferred for portability, while larger ones might offer a more resonant sound.

Size and Sound Quality

The size of a hammered dulcimer directly affects its sound quality and tonal characteristics. Generally, larger dulcimers produce a richer, more resonant sound due to the increased soundboard area and longer string length. The larger soundboard allows for more vibration, resulting in a broader tonal range and enhanced volume.

How Big Is A Hammered Dulcimer
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On the other hand, smaller dulcimers tend to have a brighter, crisper sound with less sustain. The tonal qualities of a hammered dulcimer are subjective, and musicians often choose a size that complements their musical style and preferences.

Portable Alternatives

While larger hammered dulcimers offer richer sound, they can be less portable and more challenging to transport. As a result, smaller versions, known as “Appalachian dulcimers” or “travel dulcimers,” have gained popularity. These compact instruments are designed to be lightweight and easily carried, making them ideal for musicians on the go. However, it’s important to note that the trade-off for portability may be a slight compromise in sound quality compared to their larger counterparts.

How long are dulcimer hammers?

Dulcimer hammers, also known as beaters or mallets, come in various sizes depending on personal preference and playing style. Typically, they range from 8 to 12 inches (20 to 30 centimeters) in length. The length can vary further based on the weight and balance of the hammers, which affect the tone and articulation produced when striking the dulcimer strings.

What is the range of a hammered dulcimer?

The range of a hammered dulcimer depends on the number of strings and their tuning. Generally, hammered dulcimers have a range of 2 to 4 octaves. This range allows for the production of a diverse array of musical notes and chords, offering ample versatility for playing various genres and styles.

How Big Is A Hammered Dulcimer
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What is the largest dulcimer?

The size of dulcimers can vary, and while there isn’t a standardized “largest” dulcimer, some builders have created larger versions of the instrument. One example is the bass dulcimer, which features an extended range and a larger soundboard to accommodate lower-pitched strings. Bass dulcimers can measure over 5 feet (150 centimeters) in length and provide a deeper and more resonant sound compared to standard-sized dulcimers.


Can the size of a hammered dulcimer be customized?

Yes, many hammered dulcimer builders offer customization options, allowing musicians to specify their desired dimensions and features.

What is the ideal size for a beginner?

For beginners, a medium-sized hammered dulcimer is often recommended as it strikes a balance between playability, sound quality, and portability.

Can the size affect the difficulty of playing?

The size itself does not significantly impact the difficulty of playing the hammered dulcimer. However, musicians with smaller hands might find it easier to navigate smaller-sized instruments.


The size of a hammered dulcimer is a crucial factor in determining its sound quality, portability, and playability. While there is no standardized size for this instrument, variations in dimensions cater to diverse musical styles, personal preferences, and cultural traditions. Musicians should carefully consider their requirements and desired sound before choosing a hammered dulcimer. Whether large or small, the hammered dulcimer continues to captivate listeners with its beautiful melodies and rich tonal range, ensuring its place as a cherished instrument in the world of music.