BEWARE of sponsored ad sites of "the BEST dulcimers" to buy.
It has recently come to my attention that A**zon has started paying money to promotional sites that are basically ADs for some of the really inferior instruments that advertise and sell through their site. These ad sites contain much harmful misinformation pretending to be helpful to new dulcimer players looking to buy a good dulcimer. These am**zon sites are aggressively recommending instruments of questionable quality or usefulness and pointing new players to buy them by displaying their own great 'reviews' and recommendations. Such dulcimers are most definitely NOT "the best" and in fact are very discouraging to play and tend to discourage new players from playing at all. They are cheap but not very easy or comfortable to play for various reasons, or they are so limiting in scope that they will hold players back. Much better quality reliable mountain dulcimers can be had for very little money from luthiers with excellent reputations that most members here can point beginners to.
By googling the phrase "best dulcimers" I found as of today at least FIVE of these am**zon-paid ad sites all with different domains and different 'looks'... but all featuring the same promotions to instruments sold by the hundreds on Am**zon. And these sites come up in the top ten google results (naturally, because they're sponsored by Am**zon). All these sites include small print type disclaimers that contain the wording: "___.com is a participant in the A**zon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to A**zon.com"
So, it seems we are stuck with having to put up with this super-promo wave online for some time to come. We'll have to start expecting a whole LOT of new members coming to FOTMD after having bought "the best" highly-rated dulcimer in the form of a Roosebeck, and Apple Creek, and a Merlin Seagull "guitar dulcimer" which seem to be the three cheap brands that are being promoted in this internet marketing wave (none of which are made in the USA, just to be clear).
Sadly, I saw as well that in their effort to appear disguised more like helpful sites rather than simply ADs, several of these sites have added additional filler content they appear to have swiped from other sites. A "mountain dulcimer history" excerpted from a local Tennessee newspaper article written by a newspaper reporter seemingly unfamiliar with dulcimers. A "Tab section" featuring dozens of tabs by various authors (some of whom are members here) who I'm pretty sure were not asked permission to use their tabs. None of this is a good thing.
I wont even post these websites' URLs here, in order to not give them any free hotlinks on our site. Please do not post their links here. If you see such a link on FOTMD, please let me know. If I see links to these am*zon sponsored "best dulcimer" ads/sites, I'll immediately remove the links from FOTMD.
Just please beware of any sites that use the word "best" along with listing "pros and cons" reviews for the three brands they're promoting, that I've noted in bold above. These are most definitely NOT the best dulcimers for you to purchase. Thank you.