Warren May, McSpadden, Blue Lion?????
Instruments- discuss specific features, luthiers, instrument problems & questions
I concur with Ken and Kusani. The sound and feel of every dulcimer can be very personal and fit one player better than another. It would be best to try the one you wish to purchase before spending the money. That is not always as practical as one would wish. Even 2 identical custom-made instruments by the same builder can sound a bit different played side by side.
I have owned/played McSpadden and Blue Lion. They are both excellent and sound great. But they are worlds apart in sound, not at all in a negative way: just different. I like the sound of Warren May's dulcimers but have only strummed one in his store in Berea, never owned one.
Blue Lion sometimes has a vendor space at some festivals and sometimes there are McSpadden resellers/dealers at some festivals so that may be an option for trying each of those. I do not know if Warren sells at festivals or not. I know the last festival I attended had a couple of people come by just to shop the vendors though they did not register for the festival.
Deciding on another dulcimer is always a process and the careful buyer weighs lots of factors over time to make the best decision. If only one could buy all three and then decide and send the others back.
Best wishes on making your decision.