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Purchased a previously used instrument and am curious what size strings are on it.  Is there a convention such as a color code or marking on the loop or ball ends?  Also, what is the best way to tell that the strings should be changed?  Sound or visually?  

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I'm not aware of any manufacturer of strings that codes the various sized. That would be a difficult task given the large number of string sizes. The best way to measure a string is with a micrometer. Perhaps you can find a local music store or luthier who could do this for you. You can also calculate the size strings for use on your dulcimer with this calculator: http://www.strothers.com/string_choice.html. It tends to be a little light so you can usually go up a hundredth or two in size. You need to know the vibrating string length (VSL) of you dulcimer which is the distance from the fret board side of the nut to the fret board side of the saddle/bridge (or where the strings make contact). I change strings when they sound dull which happens when they get dirty from playing. Changing strings depends on how much you play.

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."

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I have a couple Warren May dulcimers.  They come strung as .022 (wound), .012, .012, .012 for DAAA.  The little guide that comes with them recommends those sizes and also suggests replacing the middle string with .014 and keeping the melody strings as .012 for DAdd.  That seems a little odd, but that's what it recommends.

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22 hours ago, Admin said:

I have a couple Warren May dulcimers.  They come strung as .022 (wound), .012, .012, .012 for DAAA.  The little guide that comes with them recommends those sizes and also suggests replacing the middle string with .014 and keeping the melody strings as .012 for DAdd.  That seems a little odd, but that's what it recommends.

I think this answered my question in another thread.  This tells me that with a sting change it can be used for DAdd.   Would a beginner like me be able to tell if I do not change the middle string?  Thanks!!

 

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49 minutes ago, Km5er said:

I think this answered my question in another thread.  This tells me that with a sting change it can be used for DAdd.   Would a beginner like me be able to tell if I do not change the middle string?  Thanks!!

 

You should be fine just to tune the existing melody strings up for DAdd.  On many instruments the middle string is already a thicker string like a .014 or .016.  Maybe the suggestion to increase the size is an attempt to balance the sound from the middle string when tuning the melody strings up.  The higher gauge would add more tension and possibly be a little bit louder, but I don't know that someone would really notice much difference.

Personally I've just kept them strung as they came and tuned them up to DAdd if I wanted to play in that mode or tuned them back down to DAAA.  The strings that come on them work fine for that.

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