I find it interesting that some posters on this thread don't like "too much sustain" and others dislike laminate soundboards because they have "very little sustain". If that's true, seems like the original poster might actually like a laminate soundboard, if it keeps the sustain down.
The Rick Thum student line was sold some time ago and the same dulcimers are now being made under the name "Jake's Cabin". I am a multi instrumentalist looking for a hammered dulcimer last year my criteria was very specific. I wanted a combination of small size, easy transportability (I sometimes carry several instruments with me to gigs) and maximum versatility (as many courses as possible). 12/11 dulcimers didn't have quite the range to satisfy me. What i settled on was a Jake's Cabin Traveller, which is a Rick Thum design. It is a 14/13 in a package the same size as a 12/11. It has almost the range of a 15/14, even going down to D in the base. The ingenious design allows for this by making the 3 lowest bass courses single strings. They make it 2 ways, one laminate top and the other solid Spanish cedar. I opted for the solid top and I have to say it has a ton of sustain! So whoever said that Rick Thum dulcimers don't have much sustain, I don't understand that. I play Irish sometimes, and it's actually too much sustain. I keep it down by using leather hammers, that helps keep it down. But if you want tons of sustain and bright sound in a small package at a modest price I don't think you could do any better.