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String and Tuning of Antique 11/7 Hammered Dulcimer


RobertJ
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I'm a builder if nyckelharpas who recently came into possession of an 11/7 antique hammered dulcimer.  I don't know its age, but the use of cut nails holding on the back places it probably some time before 1890-1900; with that type of nails, it could be up to 50 years earlier than that.  There are 4 strings in every course.  The blue tape in the first picture is holding onto 4 loose tuning pegs with a crack running through their holes, as you can see in the second picture.  I'm guessing the crack was caused by .027" steel strings having been installed on the entire instrument at some time, which seems way too heavy for the upper treble.  I plan to reinforce the instrument internally from the back. I may or may not be able to close the crack.  If I can't close it, I don't want to drill 4 new holes way back from the crack; I'll just use 3 strings in each of the top 4 courses.  My issue is how the instrument should be strung and tuned.  Here's some further information:

  The longest course crossing the bass bridge is 635 mm from bass bridge to left nut. 

  The shortest course crossing the bass bridge is 493 mm from bass bridge to left nut.

  The longest course on the treble bridge is 466 mm from right nut to treble bridge, and 305 mm from treble bridge to left nut. 

  The shortest course on the treble bridge is 237 mm from right nut to treble bridge, and 160 mm from treble bridge to left nut.

I would very much appreciate any and all suggestions anyone might have for how it should be tuned and what diameter strings should be used.  Or, if anyone has a suggestion just for tuning and knows roughly how many pounds of tension are appropriate for each string on a hammered dulcimer, I can calculate what diameter of strings to use for each course.

With that information, I'm confident I can get it playing without seriously altering its appearance or antique nature.

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Many thanks in advance to anyone who can help or point me to some appropriate resource.

Best regards,

  Rob

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