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Hello - noob H Dulcimer player - with basic but urgent question


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I was given as a lovely present a 12/11 hammered Dulcimer last weekend for a significant birthday! I play guitar and piano and understand music, but I am completely new to H Dulcimers. I believe the one I have been given is set up incorrectly, I believe the bridge markers are all in the wrong places. Would someone be kind enough to tell me if I am right or wrong please. Two pictures attached. one of the whole instrument, and one a diagram I have done to make it easier to see.






The shop owner who sold it to my wife is being vague to say the least in understanding the issue.

Many thanks,



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What you believe is correct. A typical 12/11 hammered dulcimer is tuned: bass bridge starting at the string at the bottom closest to the player is G, A, B, C, D, E, F, G A, Bflat, C and the treble bridge starting at the bottom is: (right side) C#, D, E, F#, G, A, B, C, D, E, F, G and on the left side G#, A, B, C#, D, E, F#, G, A, B, C, D. Again start at the bottom of the bass bridge, markers are white, black, black, white, black, black, white, black, black, white, black and on the treble bridge from the bottom, black, white, black, black, white, black, black, white, black, black, white, black. This is for a fifth interval tuning. 

I have no idea why your HD is set up that way. Are you able to loosen the strings and move the bridge caps? If you don't have enough black or white slips to cover all the spots you can always buy some new delrin rods.


"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."

Edited by KWL
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  • 2 weeks later...

Are the markers incorrect, or is this some odd tuning? Meaning, are the notes as KWL has described or something different?  I've never heard of "hammer dulcimer alternate tuning" but I suppose it's possible.

That the shop owner is vague, doesn't mean he's malicious; the instrument is relatively rare and there are many 'music shop owners' who wouldn't know a HD if they tripped over it (i was surprised at how little the people at Elderly Instruments, of all places, knew about the couple HDs they had on display)   Posting to this forum is the right way to start.  and, welcome, btw.

Edited by gscratchhd
added notes.
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Thank you both for your help. I concluded the bridge markers were wrong which on a brand new instrument wasn't acceptable. Luckily it has been returned and refunded, although I lost postage cost.

I wasn't meaning to imply the store was malicious... kinda worse... incompetent. If you are selling an instrument for a few hundred bucks, this was a folk instrument shop, you should at least be able to clarify even if you don't know, that the bridge markers are right or wrong. They should have offered to refund where as I had to push the point. I did ask the shop owner, who didn't even understand my question whether he played the HD to which he told me he did, but he just didn't use the markers. Basically he thought the markers were decoration. I watched ONE tutorial video on Youtube and I knew that the markers were the equivalent of fret markers on a guitar. Anyway... alls well that ends well. Thanks from the UK. I am now on a hunt to buy one that is correct...


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