Tuning a Mountain Dulcimer
For Mountain Dulcimer Players

Video 1



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About the Lessons

1. Introduction First Steve introduces the topic of tuning a dulcimer by showing us four of his mountain dulcimers, all with different tuning heads. Then he explains the physics affecting how a string sounds when it is tuned.
2. Pluck, Then Turn Before you begin to tune a string, first pluck that string and then turn the tuner. Follow each string to find the tuner attached to that string, so you don't turn the wrong tuner.
3. 1-5-5- Tuning Don't worry. If you break a string, you can always get another. In this video, Steve teaches the traditional method of "hooing into the hole," the way dulcimers were tuned before we had batteries for tuners or tuning forks. Then he demonstrates how to tune the strings to 1-5-5 intervals.
4. 1-5-8 Tuning, Part A A more common tuning is the 1-5-8 tuning, so the melody string is an octave higher than the bass string. Watch to see what happened in this video that Steve did not plan for the lesson, but turned out to be a good practical example.
5. 1-5-8 Tuning, Part B For this lesson, Steve chose to tune a dulcimer with only 3 strings.
6. Tuning to Fit Your Voice The "1" is always the bass string. You can retune your dulcimer to match a comfortable pitch for your voice, if you're singing along with your instrument.
7. Tuning to Play With Others When it comes time to play with other people, we all need to be tuned to the same pitch. The common tunings are D-A-d and D-A-A. You can tune using a piano, a guitar, a pitch pipe, or an electronic tuner.

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