Changing tunings

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Changing tunings

Postby DownVirginia8 » Sat Mar 18, 2017 9:18 am

I'm a newcomer to the dulcimer. I bought a new McSpadden Dulcimer, 26 inch VSL, which came setup in DAD tuning. The bridge is compensated, and while I'm not sure exactly what that means, I had the idea it meant that I could change strings and/or go to tunings other than DAD. So, using the electronic tuner that I use to tune guitar, I tuned my dulcimer bass string to A, for a DAA tuning and the dulcimer doesn't sound absolutely horrible, but when I try the tabs written for DAA, the songs don't sound right. I also tried tuning all strings down a step, from DAD to CGC and it sounds terrible. The dulcimer sounds nice in DAD. How can I try some tunings other than DAD and get a nice sound from the dulcimer? Thanks for any suggestions!
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Re: Changing tunings

Postby Mukluk2 » Sat Mar 18, 2017 10:07 am

When you say you tuned the bass string to A, are you talking about the thick, wound string? In Daa, the bass string is tuned to D and the rest of the strings are tuned to a.

Steven
Last edited by Mukluk2 on Sat Mar 18, 2017 10:14 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Changing tunings

Postby Skip » Sat Mar 18, 2017 10:08 am

Tune the melody string to A. MD 'talk' places the strings tunings bass to melody, in this case, D3-A3-A3. DAd(d) is D3-A3-d4(d4).
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Re: Changing tunings

Postby KenH » Sat Mar 18, 2017 12:10 pm

Welcome! A compensated bridge takes into account thicker strings at the bass end and thinner at the melody end closest to you.

Any dulcimer can be tuned to all of the classic Modal Tunings and others as well; in any given Key (D, C, G etc). For example you can tune to DAA, DAd, DAC, and DAG. You can also tune DOWN to the Key of C equivalents and key of B equivalents as well. You can also tune the same strings UP to E and F without much problem; but if you go beyond that you risk breaking strings.

As a newcomer you may find the article I wrote several years ago . It's called I Just Got A Dulcimer... and it is an illustrated glossary of dulcimer term as well as answers to many beginner questions about the tuning, playing, care and feeding of your new friend:
I Just Got A.pdf
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Re: Changing tunings

Postby DownVirginia8 » Sat Mar 18, 2017 12:12 pm

Ahh, that changes everything. I had tuned the bass (thick wound string) to A, but left the melody string as D. I tried your suggestion tuning the melody strings to A instead Now it sounds good! Thank you Skip and Mukluk2! Now, I still wonder about CGC. Is there a CGC tuning for dulcimer? I thought I had seen some tabs for that tuning.
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Re: Changing tunings

Postby DownVirginia8 » Sat Mar 18, 2017 12:14 pm

Thank you KenH. I'll take a look at your pdf.
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Re: Changing tunings

Postby KenH » Sat Mar 18, 2017 12:19 pm

Welcome! A compensated bridge takes into account thicker strings at the bass end and thinner at the melody end closest to you.

Any dulcimer can be tuned to all of the classic Modal Tunings and others as well; in any given Key (D, C, G etc). For example you can tune to DAA, DAd, DAC, and DAG. You can also tune DOWN to the Key of C equivilents and key of B equivalents as well. You can also tune the same strings UP to E and F without much problem; but if you go beyond that you risk breaking strings.

As a newcomer you may find the article I wrote several years ago . It's called I Just Got A Dulcimer... and it is an illustrated glossary of dulcimer term as well as answers to many beginner questions about the tuning, playing, care and feeding of your new friend.

I Just Got A.pdf
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Re: Changing tunings

Postby Skip » Sat Mar 18, 2017 1:34 pm

DownVirginia8 wrote:Ahh, that changes everything. I had tuned the bass (thick wound string) to A, but left the melody string as D. I tried your suggestion tuning the melody strings to A instead Now it sounds good! Thank you Skip and Mukluk2! Now, I still wonder about CGC. Is there a CGC tuning for dulcimer? I thought I had seen some tabs for that tuning.


Yes, there is CGC [C3-G3-c4] for key of C, Just tune each string down [loosen] from DAd. There is also DGd [for key of G], tune the middle string down to G.
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Re: Changing tunings

Postby strumelia » Sat Mar 18, 2017 2:14 pm

The tabs for DAd tuning will work exactly the same if you tune to 'CGC tuning. The tuning is simply DAd with all strings tuned DOWN one step. You can use the very same tab as for DAd though- because nothing changes concerning the note intervals. You will actually be playing in the key of C though, rather than in the key of D. This doesn't matter at all as long as you are not playing with other people or playing with recordings. When playing with others however, you'll have best results if you are all playing in the same key! ;)
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Re: Changing tunings

Postby DownVirginia8 » Sat Mar 18, 2017 9:37 pm

Thank you to everyone for answering my questions. Here's to happy music-making!
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