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DAA vs DAD and Dulcimer design/intent


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I read somewhere that some Dulcimers are designed/made for certain tunings.  I recently purchased my first instrument because of positive things about the name and price.  If I fail it still would be an interesting wall item.   I purchased a Warren May cherry hourdrop instrument made in 2006.  I recently read (after the purchase) that these are made for DAA tuning.  Most of the resource material I have seen is for DAD tuning so this is how I plan to tune and use it in the beginning.  I am curious if most any dulcimer can be used at most any tuning?  Would someone with some experience (that excludes me) be able to tell that the dulcimer is tuned other than its intent?  TO me;  I don't think this can be true with respect to these two tunings.  Thanks

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I use both tunings on most of my dulcimers with no problems. Some folks seem to think that particular dulcimer sounds better when tuned to DAA rather than DAd or vice versa. Frankly, I have never detected even a slight difference in any of my dulcimers when switching between tunings. That being said, I have a couple of dulcimers in keep in DAA, a few in DAd, and one currently in A, A, A, A. There is another in DGD. I often retune to other tunings such as DAC and DAG. There is no reason your Warren May dulcimer will not sound lovely in DAd. If I recall yours does have the 6 1/2 fret and perhaps the 13 1/2. The 6 1/2 is essential for playing in DAd.

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."

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1 hour ago, KWL said:

I use both tunings on most of my dulcimers with no problems. Some folks seem to think that particular dulcimer sounds better when tuned to DAA rather than DAd or vice versa. Frankly, I have never detected even a slight difference in any of my dulcimers when switching between tunings. That being said, I have a couple of dulcimers in keep in DAA, a few in DAd, and one currently in A, A, A, A. There is another in DGD. I often retune to other tunings such as DAC and DAG. There is no reason your Warren May dulcimer will not sound lovely in DAd. If I recall yours does have the 6 1/2 fret and perhaps the 13 1/2. The 6 1/2 is essential for playing in DAd.

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."

Thank you.  Yes it does have the 61/2 and I have tuned it to DAdd and to me it sounds great.  I now need to work on the skill part : )

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SOME dulcimers are designed to be played in certain tunings, it's true.  It is also true that SOME instruments sound better in a given tuning that others -- at least according to my ears.    It is also true that Warren often tunes in DAA or CGG -- more traditional, older tunings. 

The vast majority of dulcimers can be played in any tuning when you have appropriate strings for that tuning (you can't play very high or very low pitched tunings with "average" DAA/DAd gauges of strings (they will break or be too floppy to sound proper).  Like Ken I have a variety of dulcimers in a variety of tunings from Ccc to DAG, DAC, DAA, Ddd etc.  

Just because there is more DAd material available does not mean you should restrict yourself to that tuning.  A good dulcimer player will tune his/her instrument to the tuning most appropriate for a particular song -- rather than change the music to fit their 'favorite' tuning.    Retuning is usually a matter of changing the note to which the melody string is tuned.

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