Well I've been the full gammut on dulcimer collecting. At first all I knew was the hourglass vs. the more traditional teardrop. Oh and of course there are different Modes that are played so I soon after starting acquired an hourglass in DAd and a teardrop in DAA. Those were the two modes I ended up playing in. Not because of those modes particularly (wait I just said tunings and not the Mixalodian and Ionian modes respectively), but because that's the tunings/modes that all of the tab books were written in. Now far as that goes I knew standard notation backwards and forewards, but early on I decided upon tab and to not care about what notes I was playing. By not caring I didn't have to count from the open string to what the note actually was. So another mode was not going to tempt me, but how about a different dulcimer?
Yep, that did it. I saw a book that had a courting dulcimer and I had to have one. I commisioned one to be built in solid cherry. Great large instrument and was rarely played as built, but for me solo, I now could play in the two modes I knew just by flipping the instrument around and having a go at the other side. Great! Then I messed around with a slide guitar and loved the sound only to find out that a dulcimer was made with "high strings" to be played with a slide. Yep one of those too please. Then I saw a "walking dulcimer". Strung backwards and nifty as all get out, that was the next insturment in my house. All this with three courses or four strings, Melody course was a pair of course. That was until I found out about a church or six string dulcimer (after which I only buy six string dulcimers). Then I heard about an octave sized one and then a baritone octave sized one (Ron Ewing here) as well as a true baritone. With Ron Ewing I found that the hourglass and teardrop was not the only two shapes. He lists a few of his own including the Aorell, which has an hourglass double bout side next to the player and a modified teardrop (higher bout in the center rather than lower on the instrument) opposite the player. With this instrument you get a larger sound body for deeper tones but maintain a close to the body hourglass for easy play.
There are reasons for each of the above mentioned variations on a similar theme and some you realize are really important (at least to you they are), both from a sound or looks department. The last variation I obtained was a double dulcimer. Like the courting dulcimer with two fretboards, but these are aligned so that both can be played by one person. No flipping or having to get your neighbor to play a tune. Did I mention electronic pickups? Our predecessors in this venture called DD dulcimer desease, didn't really have a problem as they (if they were fortunate) had one instrument and that's it. Changing modes meant changing tunings which meant occasionally breaking a few strings. And although with my courting and with the double I tried to do it with one instrument, it would not cover all of the reasons that my collection rose to 25 pieces. Each one of those instruments was different in some manner, be it modes, pitch (most were pitched in G a fifth lower than normal and the rest in D), and then the last problem for me was woods and finishes. Yep color made me buy it (I'd tell my wife), well that never went over at all with her. Now do to expensive problems I had and that of my family I was forced into a big instrument sell off, now trying to recapture the best of the best in my (what will probably now be) last instrument of dulcimer persuation. I don't know if I'll be able to talk the builder into it, but I'm sure going to give it a try since I know if I can get it, I'll not be tempted as before into a house full of dulcimers. Most of my fellow dulcimer players have around three to half a dozen. I was most happy with that same number as I had the two modes I play in covered and an octave one to be able to play on trips I had to do to see doctors. That worked out the best.
Second to that as I was liquidating my collection was to have the double in the two different modes. Again so I could play any tab that I had in a familiar mode. Lastly and what I will be content with after all those dollars went by by, will be to get a really special dulcimer that will most likely be converted and strung in G a fifth lower than the standard D and to have six strings, but not in unison as I'd done before. Rather this six string dulcimer with have octave strings on the lower two drones while the melody string pair will indeed be in unison. I will take pictures and show all once I have what will be my very last dulcimer that I'll be perfectly content with. Unless you can see ahead and ilimenate all the fluff in the dulcimer world and settle into what you know will make you happy, you'll be destined as was I to buy a bunch of dulcimers and keep them, or as you asked in the OP, to sell one in order to buy the next. That by the way is exactly was I was doing, but only when I happened to have 25 of them sitting in the house. Best of luck to you my friend and please be sure to post whatever you decide and end up with. Kevin.