For those considering purchasing a "student dulcimer" you might consider a cardboard dulcimer from backyardmusic.com. I have purchased six student all wood dulcimers in the past from two different builders. Both were excellent and the parents of the students purchased five over time and I gave one away to a relative. However, I am just amazed at the sound of this cardboard dulcimer (already assembled) from backyardmusic.com. More volume than the all wood dulcimers, and the quality is superb. I think it would make an excellent beginner model. This is not a knock on the other dulcimers, but none the less a very nice surprise.