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  1. I started out with diatonic and have only dabbled occasionally with chromatic. Being familiar with the fret pattern on a diatonic, I didn't have a lot of difficulty adjusting to playing on chromatic but there are tradeoffs. The extra frets (there are only 4 more in addition to a diatonic with a 6+ fret) weren't a huge barrier for me, but they do require more precise playing. I often play a little further back from the fret when playing some chords than I probably should but on a diatonic that's less of an issue as long as it's not buzzing. Visually a chromatic lacks the wide/narrow spaces which can be a helpful guide. Diatonic is a little more forgiving/intuitive there. The biggest sound difference I notice is in slides. On a diatonic all the notes except (6 or 6+) will be in the scale so slides sound a bit different on chromatic. Often I think the diatonic slides sound better in the music I play. For playing some genres like Jazz, being able to change to any key during the same song or getting 7th, diminished, 9th, etc. chords in any key is something that would be a struggle on a diatonic instrument. It's possible to get some of it with alternate tunings on a diatonic dulcimer, but like guitar, chord shapes on a chromatic are completely movable and will play the same type of chord anywhere on the fretboard, which is handy if you might need to play in any of the 12 keys. For playing fiddle tunes or Appalachian/European/Medieval folk music, the a diatonic is perfect for that. Most of the repertoire usually stays within a key/mode, so at most you may need to transpose the music or retune the dulcimer.
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