Friends of the Mountain Dulcimer

Appalachian mountain dulcimer players- make friends, share, learn to play- Free!


Beginner players

Members: 1135
Latest Activity: 5 hours ago

Not sure how to tune your first dulcimer?...

Are you totally lost as to how to tune your dulcimer to begin learning to play?
Most players these days start learning in the key of D, choosing either DAA tuning or DAd tuning. But you also must be in the right octave or you may break your strings!
Click on THIS LINK to find a very handy online tuning aid. See the piano keyboard pictured? Click on the key marked "D3". That's a low sounding note of D that you can tune your heaviest bass string to.
Next, click on the key marked "A3" and tune your middle string to that note.
Lastly, you can tune your single or double melody string(s) to either A3 A3 as well (for a DAA tuning), or to D4 D4 if you want to tune to DAd (also known as DAdd if you have 2 melody strings).
Your melody string or pair of melody strings are closest to you when the dulcimer is in your lap. The bass string is furthest away from you with the dulcimer in your lap.
Notice the open heavy bass string has the lowest sounding note on your dulcimer. Also notice on the piano keyboard how D4 sounds a whole octave higher than D3. And notice how A3 sounds somewhere in the middle between those two d's.
There is also a nice clear Youtube demonstration HERE showing step by step how to tune your dulcimer to DAA.
Now you can start playing your dulcimer in either DAA or DAd!

Much of this same info on how to tune your new mountain dulcimer can also be found in THIS POST of my Noter-Drone BLOG.

Discussion Forum

First paying gig 16 Replies

Started by Terry Wilson. Last reply by Sheryl DeStafeno-Bowe 5 hours ago.

Beginner Players May 2014 Challenge 8 Replies

Started by 10ashus. Last reply by Judy K Gillett 5 hours ago.

New to me dulcimer 17 Replies

Started by GABE WATTS. Last reply by Jan Potts 7 hours ago.

Your beginner progress this week- I'm working on... 958 Replies

Started by Strumelia. Last reply by Geekling yesterday.

Cherub Violin Pick-up (about $10) useful for Dulcimer 10 Replies

Started by Robin Clark. Last reply by Colleen yesterday.

Buying a dulcimer online 63 Replies

Started by Ellen Rice. Last reply by Ellen Rice yesterday.

String Type? 20 Replies

Started by Sue Fawcett. Last reply by Terry Wilson on Monday.

Tuning question 13 Replies

Started by Terry Evans. Last reply by Terry Evans on Friday.

Worthwhile to buy from Craigslist as a brand new dulcimer fan? 16 Replies

Started by Jennifer Dillon. Last reply by Colleen Hailey Apr 10.

Music notation article 3 Replies

Started by Terry Wilson. Last reply by Terry Wilson Apr 7.

Strum rhythm video lesson

Started by 10ashus Apr 7.

DAA and DAD Tuning 5 Replies

Started by David C. Harney. Last reply by Ken Hulme Apr 6.

Songs written in DAA tuning 15 Replies

Started by Sheri Poel. Last reply by Ken Hulme Apr 5.

First Festival 69 Replies

Started by marg. Last reply by John Keane Apr 4.

Strum Strum Strum 29 Replies

Started by marg. Last reply by Dusty Turtle Mar 27.

Dulcimer pick? 19 Replies

Started by Matt Shank. Last reply by John Henry Mar 21.

Playing a ukulele dulcimer style? 5 Replies

Started by Joseph Malham. Last reply by Joseph Malham Mar 15.

I mixed up a tune 7 Replies

Started by Travis Zach. Last reply by Helen Seiler Mar 15.

woods considering 10 Replies

Started by Ron Larson. Last reply by Ron Larson Mar 12.

Best Hardshell Case? 5 Replies

Started by Kitty L.. Last reply by Jan Potts Mar 12.

Comment Wall


You need to be a member of Beginner players to add comments!

Comment by Skip on April 7, 2014 at 4:47pm

I'm not sure how you're connecting chords with octaves, chords are connected with keys. The notes in a particular chord in one octave are the same in all octaves, the pitch is higher or lower, D3-F#3-A3 [D-F-#A] is lower sounding than D4-F#4-A4 [d-f#-a].  In dulcimer land D3 is usually D while D4 is the lower case d. The names of the octaves, D [D3] or d [D4], etc., just identify whether the pitch is low[er] or high[er]. I think they usually run from x0 to x8 or 9.

Comment by Charles F Whitaker jr ( Charlie) on April 7, 2014 at 3:23pm

I was reading some suggestions about different octaives and what chords to use. I have never heard of any of these answers. I have been taking lessons from a Dulcimer school but this I've never heard of, could it be I'm being lured into the wrong school? Would like an honest answer as I want to learn to play my dulcimer, it's an Applecreek tear drop.


Comment by Terry Evans on April 7, 2014 at 2:35pm

Hello Folks,

I just bought a Korg tuner that shows the octive your'e in. Is a, or d in octave 4 vs A and D in octave 3?  Thank you ver much.'


Comment by Wout Blommers on April 6, 2014 at 12:01pm

Guglielmo, your duclimer is good enough, I was just refering to the sound. As soon you notice you want something more out of the instrument is the best moment to start to look for a better instrument. I used an instrument like yours for more than two years until I start looking for another one. Just play and play to get the instrument under your skin. And let us hear more if you want to.

Comment by Guglielmo on April 6, 2014 at 11:17am

Hi everybody

@Janet - Basically I'm an amateur guitar player. But I like to try and play every thing that makes a sound, in particular if it has got strings :) I've been practising all the afternoon for that draft. I'm really glad someone liked it.


@Wout - yes, my dulci is really cheap. I've been listening to people here playng dulcimers that can move may very soul just with their sound. It is possible I could buy something better in the future, I'm open to suggetions in case. Concerning the audio, I used my phone for the recording. Not the best choice, but the quickest; furthermore, using the bow makes the sound a little bit sharper, it surely should be equalized better in case of a recording different from a test. And yes, I was hitting the strings using the bow too :)


I'm really glad for landing here.

Thanks guys.



Comment by Wout Blommers on April 6, 2014 at 10:42am

BTW not totally in the video to see, but are you hiting the strings using the bow too?

Comment by Wout Blommers on April 6, 2014 at 10:37am

Surely not a newbie in music.  First of all: you have a very pleasing voice!!! Dulcimer, I suppose it isn't a top of the bill class, you play it very expressive. Multi track recording; at my end the sound is rather sharp. To dulcimer players this video is full of amazing  surprizes: YOU HAVE TO WATCH THIS!!!

Last but not least: we all enjoy toys, but the game is more important.

Welcome to dulcimer land.

Comment by Matteo on April 6, 2014 at 8:11am

janet, i told him the same thing, but he's too shy and too perfectionist :D

Comment by Janet Keller on April 6, 2014 at 7:27am
How do u consider yourself a newbie??? That was great!
Comment by Guglielmo on April 5, 2014 at 7:45pm

I've just posted my first video since I got my dulcimer. I tried to mix some techniques, dunno if someone is going to put a bounty on me, so... I'm asking for suggestion and comments. Thanks in advance. G.


Members (1135)


SINGLE INSTRUCTOR WORKSHOPS, Performances, Band Gigs & Special Club Event NOTICES

Offering some special workshops? Performing at a gig? A Dulcimer Club activity? List your SINGLE INSTRUCTOR Special Event or workshop- CLICK HERE!

The Inspired Volunteer FOTMD Welcoming Commitee of the month!

3 CHEERS to members

Jim Fawcett

Karen Keane


John Wood


R N Lacky


Louis Stivali


Kenneth Longfield


Benjamin Barr

John Keane
...For warmly greeting new members and making them feel welcome here on FOTMD!


Visit Strumelia's Beginner Noter-Drone dulcimer Blog

I have a main blog for Traditional style mountain dulcimer playing here: Mountain Dulcimer Noter-drone Blog This is an old style of playing where you only fret your notes on the melody string, while letting the drones strings ring open. In my blog, I express my personal views about playing, I offer free TAB and free beginner videos, and I try to help beginners understand in a very basic simple way the 'mysteries' of playing the mountain dulcimer in traditional modal noter/drone style.

© 2014   Created by Strumelia.

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service