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dulcimer tunings for DAA players

16/02/2012

how to tune your dulcimer to popular tunings/modes when DAA is your main tuning

 

Dan playing dulcimer 

 

tune to Ionian mode (DAA)
1. use a tuning folk or chromatic tuner to tune the 3rd string to D by comparing the D on the reference (fork/tuner) with the 3rd string 7th fret harmonic (D)
2. tune the 2nd string to A by comparing the 3rd string 4th fret harmonic (A) with the second string 7th fret harmonic (A)
3. tune the 1st string to A by comparing the 3rd string 4th fret harmonic (A) with the 1st string 7th fret harmonic (A)
4. check the dulcimer is in tune by playing 2nd and 3rd strings open (A&D) whilst playing 1st string open then at frets 3 and 7 (A,D&A) in quick succession

 

from scratch (new strings) to Ionian mode (DAA)
1. use a tuner to roughly pre-tune each string to the correct pitch
2. pre- stretch each string by pulling it away from the fret-board by about half an inch 
3. follow the steps A-1 to A-4 above

 

from Ionian (DAA) to Dorian mode (DAG) 
1. lower 1st sting to G by comparing the 2nd string open (A) with the 1st string played at the 1st fret (A)
2. check the dulcimer is in tune by playing 2nd and 3rd strings open (A&D) whilst playing 1st string at frets 1, 4 and 8 (A,D&A) in quick succession

 

from Ionian (DAA) to Aeolian mode (DAC)
1. tune the 1st string up to C by comparing the 2nd string open (A) with the 1st string played at the 5th fret (A)
2. check the dulcimer is in tune by playing 2nd and 3rd strings open (A&D) whilst playing 1st string at frets 1, 5 and 8 (D,A&D) in quick succession

 

from Ionian (AAD) to Mixolydian mode (DAD)
1. tune the 1st string up to D by comparing the 3rd string 7th fret harmonic (D) with the 1st string 7th fret harmonic (D)  
2. check the dulcimer is in tune by playing 2nd and 3rd strings open (A&D) whilst playing 1st string open then at frets 4 and 7 (D,A&D) in quick succession

 

from Ionian (DAA) to Bagpipe tuning (AAA)
1. tune the 3rd string down to A by playing all three strings open (AAA) together until they sound the same
2. check the dulcimer is in tune by playing 1st and 2nd strings open (A&A) whilst playing 3rd string open then at 7th fret (A&A)

 

notes
• you may need to switch to a lighter string for the 1st string some of these tunings, especially DAD, CAD and CAC
• when following the last step of the above sequences (checking in tune) you may need to make slight changes to one of the strings (normally the 1st string) in order to get a sweet sound – be prepared to experiment with minor changes to it’s pitch in order for the tuning check to sound good – this tuning check should overrule any previous tuning as it effectively checks how the instrument will sound when played
• with experience you may be able to tune your dulcimer to different tunings / modes simply by playing all three strings together or in succession and knowing how it should sound



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