HOW TO TUNE A 5 STRING DULCIMER?

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HOW TO TUNE A 5 STRING DULCIMER?

Postby Doo Wop » Tue Nov 22, 2011 4:24 pm

I recently discovered in a pawn shop a mint Clemmer (Wood-N-Strings) 5 String Fiddle Shaped Mountain Dulcimer, solid Walnut with Wormy Chestnut Sound Board, beautiful, which sell for $575.00. Walked out with it and $25.00 worth of song books for a total of $200.00. I own 6 other dulcimers all 4 strings which leads to my question. Other than DAAAA tuning, how can this thing be tuned for regular DAAD? don't know what to do with the 5'th string and not that good with cords. Also what string gauges should I use 12,12,14,14,22?

Thank you
Doo Wop
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Re: HOW TO TUNE A 5 STRING DULCIMER?

Postby rendesvous1840 » Tue Nov 22, 2011 5:44 pm

How are the strings arranged? You could have two sets of paired strings & one single, 3 singles and one pair, or five single strings. Since you have several dulcimers, you might want to try something very different with this one. Maybe a different key, or a less common tuning. I have 2 pairs and one single, with the single on the bass end. I mostly keep my 5 string in D Aa Dd, but the low D is an octave below normal. I have the mid & melody strings in two octaves, sort of like a 12 string guitar. If you prefer the single on the melody string, that is another option. What gauges you use comes after you decide what tuning you want, and also if you plan to use more than one tuning you may adjust the gauges to help achieve the different tunings. Since you asked about using 12,12,14,14,22, I am going to assume it has a single bass string with two pairs above. Is that correct? That is how mine is set up. This can be changed if you want to do so, but it is as good a starting point as any. One thing I would suggest, is that the low strings can sound muddy tuned as mine is, if the dulcimer isn't large enough to move a fair amount of air. Mine is quite large, the biggest bodied dulcimer I have seen. It moves a lot of air. Still, too light of strings for the tuning tends to muddy the sound, clear notes on any stringed instrument require a certain amount of tension. Scale length and string gauge both must be within limits to produce clarity. Other factors are involved as well. When you decide what tuning to use, go here:
http://www.strothers.com/string_choice.htm and use the string gauge calculator to determine what gauges you want. If this produces more questions, come back and ask.
Paul
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Re: HOW TO TUNE A 5 STRING DULCIMER?

Postby GrantOlson » Tue Aug 08, 2017 10:09 pm

I know this is old. My teacher said that one guy who got a blue lion 5 string dulcimer tuned it dadad, where the lowest dad would be the same as a bass dulcimer, and the highest strings would be like on a regular dulcimer.
Grant
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