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Tuning pegs


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I know almost nothing about dulcimers. Picked up an old, inexpensive mountain dulcimer to learn the instrument. It looks like it should have 4, not three strings as it is. Where could I find this style tuner? Or could I replace them all with another style? 

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Welcome!  You could add a 4th tuner, but it's not necessary.  Many dulcimers are just 3-strings.  Depending on how the nut and bridge are cut it may be setup to allow 4 equidistant strings, a doubled melody string (like on a mandolin) or possibly both.

It might also be set up to have a double middle or bass string, but that's fairly uncommon.

If you want to add the tuner you could probably find by hunting around online.  StewMac might be a good place to start if you want find something that would be a drop in fit without having to drill additional holes.  Really any tuner would work or they could all be changed out for a matching set if it's not possible to find one with similar appearance.

As above though, it's entirely optional.  3-strings is perfectly fine.  A lot of players will take a string off a 4-string dulcimer to eliminate a doubled melody string and that may be what happened here, though I can't say I've seen someone take the tuner off too.  Usually that's left in place in case someone wants to go back.

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Yes -- you could add another tuner, or replace all 4 with different tuners.  Finding a single matching tuner would be the tricky bit.  Less hassle just to replace all of them. 

What I can see is that the nut which should raise the strings above the frets seems to be completely missing -- it should go in that slot between the tuning head and the end of the fretboard.  That is a simple enough fix, which I can certainly help you with. Some more overall photos may help us identify the brand or maker, and another closer up photo a bit farther down, showing the gap at the tuning head and the first few frets would be helpful.  .  

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I agree with what has been posted. It does look like the nut is missing. I would replace all the tuners if it were my dulcimer. Another option for tuners is to go with geared violin pegs, but you might need to ream out the holes to match the taper of pegs. The easiest is just get a new set similar to what you already have. There are many Asian companies that make covered geared tuners like you have on your dulcimer.

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."

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