Friends of the Mountain Dulcimer is the biggest online community for MD players. Based in America and free to join, it has nearly 5000 members worldwide. It offers more than 60 specialist groups, ranging from those with a particular geographic focus (including the UK), to groups for dulcimer builders, baritone players, noter and drone enthusiasts, and beginners.
Everything Dulcimer is an important and longstanding resource for the dulcimer community. It has authoritative answers on important technical or historical questions and an excellent Classified section. It has lists of (US) teachers and dulcimer builders and, most importantly, houses the biggest library of tabbed music. There are similar specialist discussion groups to FOTMD above, but in general it’s a little more dated and clunky to use.
Dulcimer Players News is an invaluable quarterly magazine for both hammered and mountain dulcimer communities. Authoritative yet accessible, with a free CD for each issue, it has articles on dulcimer playing, building and history. The site also provides access to a goldmine of past issues, including tabbed music.
The Nonsuch Dulcimer Club is the UK’s only specialist club for the mountain and hammered dulcimer. For £10 per year you get four colour newsletters, reduced price access to national workshops and news of free local meets, together with an invaluable list of players in your area.
Dulcimer Players (NOT an exhaustive list!)
Doug Berch (US): National champion at both HD and MD, raconteur and excellent dulcimer builder. Website is always entertaining and thought-provoking.
Rob Brereton (US): School music teacher who teaches and arranges old jazz standards, sometimes using 1:3:5 tuning.
Linda Brockinton (US): Popular teacher and excellent fingerstyle player/arranger.
Bonnie Carol (US): Well known player, teacher and builder of beautiful dulcimers.
Robin Clark (UK): Excellent noter-drone player with wide old time repertoire. Plenty of really entertaining and helpful videos online. Prolific poster on key dulcimer websites with new and fascinating insights into old time tunings and playing styles. Owner of Bird Rock Dulcimers.
Dan Evans (UK): Fingerstyle player of great delicacy and skill. Teacher and blogger with useful and interesting website. Worthy successor to the late, great Roger Nicholson.
Bing Futch (US): Charismatic and prolific teacher, performer and blogger. Done much to keep the profile of the MD high in recent years, particularly with his podcast/vidoes Dulcamerica.
Gary and Les Gallier (US): Gary is an innovative builder and champion player – as is his brother, but in a complementary style. Good selection of tabs on website, including some great Gallier originals.
Tull Glazener (US): Prolific performer, writer and teacher on the MD. Plenty of teaching materials available through website.
Lorraine Lee Hammond (US): One of the long-time stars of the MD. Has played on some classic albums, including with Roger Nicholson. Books and instructional material available.
Lois Hornbostel (US): Long-standing hub of the US festival scene, who has also written and produced many well known dulcimer books/recordings.
John Molineux (FR): Performer and luthier, born in California, brought up in the UK and now living in Brittany! An original dulcimer talent who played with the John Renbourn Group between 1978 and 1982.
Mark Nelson (US): Yet another national champion (!), Mark pioneered a driving flat-picking dulcimer style which led to numerous recordings and festival appearances. Now promoting his equal love of slack-key Hawaian guitar and the ukelele.
Aaron O’Rourke (US): One of a new generation of players, winning the 2010 US championship and now teaching/performing widely. Brilliant technician.
Don Pedi (US): N Carolina player with strong old time repertoire and a unique driving style that can keep pace with the fiddles! Interesting books and visual art also available through his website.
Jerry Rockwell (US): Long-time advocate, virtuoso player, teacher and custom builder of the dulcimer. Website is packed full of articles offering good advice on playing, arranging and buying, as well as recordings and instruction books for sale.
Butch Ross (US): Rightly popular teacher and performer, who thinks deeply about playing technique and is always challenging. Technically superb.
Stephen Seifert (US): Popular teacher and one of the great – and much-copied – stylists. Has played two concertos for dulcimer and chamber orchestra. Important library of self-published books and driving force behind Dulcimer School – an online MD learning programme.
John Shaw (UK): One of the best UK dulcimer players – and the most generous with his time and advice. Encyclopedic knowledge of dulcimer lore and a great teacher. Performs in several groups and duos, offering sensitive MD accompaniment in a variety of styles.
Nina Zanetti (US): Excellent fingerstyle player and teacher with intricate, unshowy arrangements. Sells useful books of these arrangements, including some duet pieces.
Bear Meadow dulcimers are among the most desirable – and expensive – dulcimers ever made. And luthier Dwain Wilder is very generous with information on exactly how how he makes them. Plenty of tips for would-be builders!
Wilfried Ulrich is a instrument maker, restorer and historian from Ostfriesland in NW Germany who has made a special study of old hummels. He makes beautifully crafted instruments of all types, including dulcimers (see this example). Website is in german.
Just one example of a UK builder, Arthur Robb from N Wiltshire, who builds and restores interesting instruments. This is his dulcimer page. He also has some resources for novice instrument makers.
An interesting article with step-by-step illustrations by a first time dulcimer builder, Jim Bracegirdle.
Doug Berch gives some useful advice on his always entertaining website. Links also to other relevant articles and books.
The well known N Carolina dulcimer builder Edd Presnell can be seen making his traditional style dulcimers in this film from 1973. Also has some marvellous playing from his wife Nettie.
There’s a modern version of dulcimer construction, using largely hand tools, at this site. Each stage is explained and illustrated.
Buying a Dulcimer