About Us

When Ray and Sue Mooers started Dusty Strings in 1979, Ray built hammered dulcimers in the couple’s basement, and the two played and sold them at festivals and craft fairs. After they switched to selling through acoustic music retailers, the business began to grow, adding employees until the basement no longer sufficed. Dusty Strings moved to its present location in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood in 1982, and Ray began experimenting with building folk harps the following year. An accomplished hammered dulcimer player, he had never played harp, but was fascinated with the instrument and had long been collecting information on harp design and construction.

Combining this background with some fairly radical ideas of their own, the company developed a 26-string harp with a soundboard made of solid mahogany (covered with a hardwood veneer) instead of the traditional spruce, and an unfastened neck/soundbox joint. The FH26 had a bright, crisp sound, with a surprisingly strong voice that carried well, and set the standard for all future Dusty Strings harps. The company’s reputation for building reliable hammered dulcimers with “perfectionist” joinery and finishing helped convince retailers to venture into the uncharted territory of selling Dusty Strings harps. After a couple of years, customer demand prompted the addition of a 36-string harp, then a more portable 32, then a lower-cost 26. All of these efforts have focused on maintaining the same bright, crisp, even sound.