I'm just one man with one opinion, but I'm going to be as diplomatic as I can.
I play a High Country Dulcimers instrument - a 17/17/7 made a little over 4 years ago. Mac has been building instruments for a little over 30 years or so, and it shows. I would never get rid of my HD. I've put in many, many hours of my dulcimers and it's really developed into a rich-sounding instrument.
My dream instrument is a Jerry Reed Smith, 5 octave with dampers. I'd love to find one used, but the problem is that folks that bought one never want to get rid of it, and when they do, it's usually more than what one cost new.
I love Masterworks, and if they ever come out with a monster, I'll try my best to get it. Masterworks has a terrific sounds, and I'm amazed at how consistent they sound. Of course, the Russell Cook Editions are super sweet and super-fun to play...especially with dampers.
I'm not a huge fan of Dusty Strings dulcimers. They have a "doinky" sound to my ears for some reason, and I'm not exactly blown away with the fit and finish of a DS. Never have been. They are too pricey, IMO. With that said, I DO like the sound of some of the older ones. For example, I like the way Ted Yoder's sounds in addition to Dan Landrum's, but this may be due to the years and years of playing that each instrument has had. And I can't sneeze towards them because the late, great Rich Mullins played one as well.
I'm also not a huge fan of anything with a laminate soundboard. All of the ones I've tried have sounded muddled with very little sustain.
I've never played a Cloud 9, and in all honesty, and I can't say that I remember playing a Rick Thum or T.K. O'brien. I think that I played a lower line Chris Foss that I wasn't terribly impressed with, but as Jerry Reed Smith told me one time, someone out there will love it, no matter how you think is sounds.
Just get out there and play anything and everything, and get something that sounds good to YOU.
Last edited by Martin
on Thu Mar 08, 2012 11:11 am, edited 1 time in total.