Translating Guitar Tunings

Help for new mountain dulcimer players of all ages!

Translating Guitar Tunings

Postby LukeInCA » Fri May 26, 2017 10:13 am

Hi everyone,

I'm new to the MD and to the forum. Glad to have found it! I'm wondering if anyone has a good online resource (or rule of thumb) for tuning an MD to guitar tab tunings. For instance, I want to try to pick out a song on my dulcimer that I have guitar tabs for. The guitar tabs call for "Open D" tuning. How does this translate to tuning the dulcimer? (DAA?)

Thank you!

Lucas
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Re: Translating Guitar Tunings

Postby dholeton » Fri May 26, 2017 7:43 pm

Lucas
Maybe an open D tuning is DADF#AD. If so and you are looking for melody notes to play on a mountain dulcimer, I think you'll need to convert the guitar tab to notes.
A DAA dulcimer has A B C# D E F# G G# on the melody string if the dulcimer has a 6+ fret.
A DAD dulcimer has D E F# A B C C# on the melody string if the dulcimer has a 6+ fret.
The guitar tab has six strings and just considering the first 5 frets starting with the 6th string
the 6th string has D D# E F F# G
the 5th string has A A# B C C# D
the 4th string has D D# E F F# G
the 3rd string has F# G G# A A# B
and so on.

If the guitar tab stays under the 5th fret, you might be able to find a melody for a dulcimer if you can transpose the numbers on the guitar tab to the notes available on your D tuned (DAA or DAD) dulcimer as long as no A#, D#, or F is in the guitar tab. If the guitar tab is in a minor key, lots of things change.

I'm painting myself into a corner and will stop here. I don't see a good way to use guitar tablature for a mountain dulcimer.

Dave
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Re: Translating Guitar Tunings

Postby Robin the Busker » Sat May 27, 2017 6:59 am

Hi Lucas,

Welcome to ED.

This reminds me of the story where a passer by was stopped by a driver who had pulled over in Grand Rapids, Minnesota and asked "Hey buddy, how do I get to Washington, DC?" and the local replied "Well, I certainly wouldn't start from here!!!". Guitar TAB albeit in DADF#AD does not relate to mountain dulcimer. It would be very complex to both recalculate the fret numbers and work out which elements of the 6 string guitar TAB are the important aspects of the tune and need translating to the dulcimer's 3 strings.

You'd be better off working from the melody either by ear or from standard music notation, then finding that on dulcimer, then adding your own harmony (which, on dulcimer, is much easier than on guitar). If the tune is a popular one then you may find it already TAB'd out for dulcimer in the 'Tablature' listings here on ED. If the tune is not in public domain (ie a pop song) then you can post a request for TAB here and someone may be able to share it with you privately if they play the tune themselves or point you towards a dulcimer TAB book with it in.

Robin
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Re: Translating Guitar Tunings

Postby LukeInCA » Sat May 27, 2017 11:18 am

Thanks Robin and Dave! This is exactly the kind of guidance I needed - I appreciate it! I'll try it the old fashioned way and see if I can pick it out by ear. Thanks again.
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