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How Much Weight Do Dampers Add To Hammered Dulcimer?

How Much Weight Do Dampers Add To Hammered Dulcimer 1

How Much Weight Do Dampers Add To Hammered Dulcimer: Dampers typically add approximately 1 to 3 pounds (0.45 to 1.36 kilograms) of weight to a hammered dulcimer.

Understanding Dampers and Their Role in a Hammered Dulcimer

Dampers in a hammered dulcimer are thin strips of material, often made of felt or leather, which are strategically placed across the strings. Their primary function is to reduce the sustain of the strings, thereby controlling the duration of the sound produced. By dampening the strings, the musician can achieve more precise and staccato-like notes, adding depth and complexity to their performances. Dampers also help in reducing unwanted overtones and resonances, allowing the player to achieve a cleaner and more refined sound.

How Much Weight Do Dampers Add To Hammered Dulcimer
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Factors Influencing the Weight of Dampers

The weight of dampers can vary depending on several factors, including the material used, the number of dampers installed, and their positioning on the instrument. Felt dampers are generally lighter than leather dampers, but the difference may not be substantial. The number of dampers added to the hammered dulcimer can significantly affect the overall weight, with more dampers resulting in a slight increase in the instrument’s heft. Moreover, the placement of dampers across the strings can also influence weight distribution and, consequently, impact the instrument’s overall balance.

How Much Weight Do Dampers Add to a Hammered Dulcimer

On average, adding dampers to a hammered dulcimer can increase its weight by approximately 1 to 3 pounds (0.45 to 1.36 kilograms). This weight increase is generally modest and should not be a significant concern for most musicians. However, for players who prioritize portability or have specific physical limitations, the added weight may be a crucial consideration.

Pros and Cons of Adding Dampers to Your Instrument

Adding dampers to a hammered dulcimer has both advantages and disadvantages. Here’s a brief overview:


  • Enhanced control over sustain and note duration.
  • Reduced unwanted overtones and resonances, leading to a cleaner sound.
  • Greater versatility in playing styles and musical expression.
  • Ability to achieve more complex and intricate arrangements.


  • Slight increase in the weight of the instrument, which may be a concern for some musicians.
  • Dampers may alter the original tone of the hammered dulcimer.
  • Additional cost if dampers are not included with the instrument initially.
How Much Weight Do Dampers Add To Hammered Dulcimer
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Tips for Balancing Weight and Sound on a Hammered Dulcimer:

Finding the right balance between weight and sound is essential for hammered dulcimer players. Here are some tips to consider:

  • Experiment with Dampers: Play with different configurations of dampers to understand their impact on sound and weight. Find the setup that best suits your playing style and preferences.
  • Consider Portability: If you frequently travel or perform in various locations, a lighter instrument may be more practical. Keep in mind that you can remove dampers temporarily if weight is a concern for a particular event.
  • Quality over Weight: While weight is a factor to consider, prioritize the overall quality and craftsmanship of the hammered dulcimer. A well-made instrument with dampers may provide a more satisfying musical experience than a lighter but less refined alternative.
  • Customization Options: Explore options for custom-built hammered dulcimers, where you can work closely with an instrument maker to design an instrument that meets your specific requirements for weight and sound.

What are the dampers on a hammered dulcimer?

Dampers on a hammered dulcimer are thin strips of material, typically made of felt or leather, strategically positioned above the strings. Their primary function is to reduce the sustain of the strings when the player strikes the strings with mallets. By dampening the strings’ vibrations, the dampers allow for more precise control over the instrument’s sustain, enabling the musician to achieve crisp, staccato notes. This feature is particularly useful for creating intricate melodies and controlling resonance, enhancing the dulcimer’s versatility and expressiveness.

How much does a hammered dulcimer weigh?

The weight of a hammered dulcimer can vary depending on its size, design, and construction materials. On average, a standard-sized hammered dulcimer typically weighs between 10 to 20 pounds (4.5 to 9 kilograms). However, larger or custom-made dulcimers may weigh up to 30 pounds (13.6 kilograms) or more. While weight is a consideration for portability, it’s crucial to prioritize the instrument’s quality and sound over its weight, as craftsmanship and tonal characteristics greatly impact the overall playing experience.

How do you amplify a hammered dulcimer?

Amplifying a hammered dulcimer is essential when performing in larger venues or with other amplified instruments. There are several methods to achieve this:

  • Piezoelectric Pickups: Piezo pickups can be placed on the dulcimer’s soundboard to capture vibrations and convert them into electrical signals, which can then be amplified through a sound system.
  • Microphones: Placing microphones strategically near the soundholes or above the instrument can capture the acoustic sound and feed it into an amplifier.
  • Contact Mics: Contact microphones can be attached directly to the dulcimer’s body to pick up vibrations and amplify the sound.
  • Built-in Dulcimer Pickups: Some dulcimer models come with built-in pickups, simplifying the amplification process.
How Much Weight Do Dampers Add To Hammered Dulcimer
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What is the note range of a hammered dulcimer?

The note range of a hammered dulcimer can vary depending on the number of courses (pairs of strings) and the instrument’s size. Generally, a standard hammered dulcimer spans three to five octaves. For a 12/11 configuration (12 courses on the treble bridge, 11 on the bass bridge), the range typically extends from G2 to G5. Larger dulcimers with more courses may have an extended range, reaching from C2 to G6 or even higher. This broad note range allows for a wide variety of musical possibilities, from haunting melodies to complex harmonies.


Will adding dampers affect the sound quality of my hammered dulcimer?

Yes, dampers can influence the sound quality of the hammered dulcimer. While they offer greater control over sustain and can produce crisper notes, they may slightly alter the overall tone of the instrument. This change in sound is often considered a trade-off for the enhanced versatility that dampers provide.

Can I remove dampers to reduce weight if needed?

Yes, dampers can be easily removed and reinstalled on a hammered dulcimer. If weight is a concern for a particular performance or situation, removing some or all of the dampers temporarily can be a viable option.

Are there alternative materials that can be used for lighter dampers?

Yes, some musicians and instrument makers have experimented with alternative materials to create lighter dampers, such as thin plastics or carbon fiber. These materials can reduce the weight of dampers, but they may have a different impact on the sound compared to traditional materials like felt or leather.

Do all hammered dulcimers come with dampers, or are they optional?

Dampers are not always included as standard on every hammered dulcimer. Some models may come with built-in dampers, while others may offer them as an optional accessory. It’s essential to check the specifications of the specific hammered dulcimer you are considering.

Can dampers be installed on older hammered dulcimer models?

In most cases, yes. Dampers can be retrofitted onto older hammered dulcimer models by a skilled instrument technician or luthier. It’s advisable to consult a professional to ensure proper installation and to avoid any potential damage to the instrument.


Dampers are an essential feature of the hammered dulcimer that significantly impact the instrument’s sound and playing capabilities. While they do add some weight to the instrument, the increase is generally modest and should not deter musicians from utilizing dampers to enhance their musical expression.

Finding the right balance between weight and sound is a personal decision that depends on individual preferences, playing style, and practical considerations. Ultimately, whether you choose to add dampers or not, the timeless beauty and enchanting melodies of the hammered dulcimer will continue to captivate audiences and musicians alike for generations to come.