I agree, Mudlark. You usually get what you pay for. I love my pricey Bear Meadow made for me by Dwain Wilder in Rochester. I have the black walnut standard hourglass, with planetary tuners, and where many dulcimers have heart-shaped holes, mine are shaped like mangolia blossoms. It's a beautiful instrument to play. I think that the better the instrument, the less you have to fight with it to make good music. And even a beginner deserves some of that kind of peace.
LINK: Bear Meadow Dulcimers