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We just acquired a new hammer dulcimer and are finding the upper register strings breaking every time I go to to tune them. Tips? Should I get better strings? Lower the frequency on the tuner?

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Usually strings break because they are being tuned an octave higher than they should be. You may be tuning to the proper note, but in the wrong octave. In the USA the standard frequency for setting your tuner is A = 440 Hz. Trying hitting the note to which you are trying to tune an octave lower and see if you can tune your string to that note and then tune up from there. You might not be able to do this if the string gets too loose. Then just tune to one of the notes lower than the one you want to tuner to and then move up from there.

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."

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What make is your dulcimer and how many octaves?. Reason for string breakings is wrong tuning, old strings, poor quality tempered strings, wrong weight of string being tuned, warped soundboard responding to environmental changes, poor quality soundboard, warped bridges either lateral or longitudinal or trying to tune to another manufacturers tunings. There are several other reasons but less likely. 

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Where are the strings breaking?  If in the middle, I would blame poor quality strings or old / corroded strings, or wrong gauge as others have said

if at the bridge or one of the nuts or at the tuning peg, check that location for burrs or roughness that is cutting the string.

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