Friends of the Mountain Dulcimer

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


Beginner players

Members: 1001
Latest Activity: 1 hour 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

Small hands, short fingers!! 20 Replies

Started by Catherine Polley. Last reply by Melanie Cook 1 hour ago.

Am I too old to learn to play dulcimer? 25 Replies

Started by Strumelia. Last reply by Melanie Cook 2 hours ago.

distance between the strings and the fretboard 13 Replies

Started by Angela Been. Last reply by marg 10 hours ago.

It's coming tomorrow! 21 Replies

Started by Amish Ed. Last reply by Helen Seiler 17 hours ago.

The dreaded dotted note - Ashogan Farewell 12 Replies

Started by Ellen Rice. Last reply by Vonnie Galusha on Wednesday.

Your beginner progress this week- I'm working on... 1059 Replies

Started by Strumelia. Last reply by Helen Seiler on Tuesday.

Have a Dulcimer coming my way 8 Replies

Started by Play4Him. Last reply by Terry Fritz on Tuesday.

G-G-C? 24 Replies

Started by Kitty L.. Last reply by Ken Hulme Oct 16.

Personal preference question on stringing 11 Replies

Started by Rick Garrett. Last reply by Skip Oct 7.

Finally bought a dulcimer... 33 Replies

Started by Robyn Spears. Last reply by David Lynch Oct 6.

Quiet Dulcimer? 7 Replies

Started by Kitty L.. Last reply by Ken Hulme Sep 30.

What are half frets and do I need any? 14 Replies

Started by Dusty Turtle. Last reply by Dusty Turtle Sep 21.

Beginner's Play Along Videos? 3 Replies

Started by Birrell Walsh. Last reply by jeffrey charles foster Sep 18.

What is noter/drone style of playing? 11 Replies

Started by Sam Searls. Last reply by Jennifer Wren Sep 17.

Capo use 18 Replies

Started by Maggie Kennon. Last reply by Ken Babb Sep 16.

DAd and DAA? 9 Replies

Started by Birrell Walsh. Last reply by jeffrey charles foster Sep 12.

starting over, from the beginning...almost. 10 Replies

Started by Paul Rohweller. Last reply by jeffrey charles foster Sep 12.

Tuning to A-F#-D 8 Replies

Started by Ken Briscoe. Last reply by Ken Briscoe Sep 3.

I can't print tablature 8 Replies

Started by Brenda Joyce Rivers. Last reply by Giuseppe (Joe) Boscolo Sep 2.

What Octave? 11 Replies

Started by Terry Evans. Last reply by Skip Aug 14.

Comment Wall


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

Comment by Melanie Cook 16 hours ago

Thanks, Dusty. This looks like a good one.

Geri, I think at this point you know more than me!  LOL

Comment by Dusty Turtle 16 hours ago

Melanie (and others), this instructional video made by Bing Futch for Folkcraft is a good introduction to tablature.

Comment by Geri Sailer 16 hours ago
I am new to ththe dulcimer and about th only thing I know right now is which way is up. Or down. I will never give up
Comment by Melanie Cook 16 hours ago

Thanks, Ellen and Dusty! So much to learn! I appreciate your help.

Comment by Dusty Turtle 16 hours ago
Yes, Melanie. Tablature is a visual depiction of your fretboard telling you exactly where to put your fingers.
Comment by Ellen Rice 16 hours ago

TAB - a diet Soda

TAB - the doo-hicky that sticks up on the filing folder

TAB - moving over four spaces when typing

As you can see, I was in no shape to be a dulcimer player.  But after a year of head scratching, I think of TAB as three lines on a page that tells me where to fret with the left hand fingers.  Some TAB only has the melody line, so if it says  2  0 1 0, then my finger/noter starts at fret 2 (strum), then no fingers down (and strum again) and then fret 1 (Strum) and nothing down (strum again). 

I am here to tell you that a capo put me into near catatonics because it was such a mystery.  I had the same reaction to a silvery CD the first time I saw one of those.  You cannot possibly be at a more embarrassing point, musically, than that one! 

Comment by Melanie Cook 16 hours ago

I think I'm beginning to understand. The tabliture is basically like reading notes and at what fret to place your finger. 

Comment by Melanie Cook 16 hours ago

Okay - here is a beginner question and it's a bit embarrassing. I see lots of talk about TAB. What is that? I see TAB examples but not sure how that pertains to playing? 

Comment by Helen Seiler 17 hours ago
Welcome Melanie, happy strumming and remember , no question is too stupid on here. We were all beginners too.
Comment by Terry Fritz 18 hours ago

Welcome I received some really nice welcome messages and am also new to the group, glad to have another new comer.  You will find this group of people very helpful and truly inspiring.


Members (1001)


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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.

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