Time for a Tune-Up

by Linda Ratcliff

When something seems unbalanced and out of rhythm, just a song can tune things up in a moment.  The power of music is therapy. - Anthony Liccione

Time for a Tune-Up
Tuning a hammered dulcimer for the first time can be pretty intimidating. The first couple times you tune your dulcimer it may take quite a while, and you'll think it was very difficult task. But, with practice, you will get the hang of it and soon you won't even think twice about tuning.

I use a chromatic electronic tuner to make the job easier, and Steve and I recommend the Snark™ Dulci-Tuner. With these senior eyes, I find the display to be very readable, and it slips right over the hammered dulcimer tuning pin. You can read more about the tuner in Steve’s blog here.

You can order the Snark™ Dulci-Tuner from Steve by clicking on this link
Snark™ Dulci-Tuner
In the Absolute Beginners section at Dulcimer Crossing, our lesson called String-Side UP addresses many of the questions and issues you may have with tuning your hammered dulcimer. Video #17 covers the mechanics of tuning. Video #18 includes 4 tips to help with tuning, and addresses issues if you are experiencing difficulty trying to get both sides of your bridges in tune.

In addition, we offer The Tuning Game on our FREE page, to motivate you to practice your tuning more often. 
The Tuning Game
The thing to be careful of is when you are tuning a string is to make sure you are turning the the right tuning pin. If the needle on the electronic tuner is not moving, STOP! You are on the wrong string, and may turn too far and break it.

Some people ask if they need to tune their hammered dulcimer EVERY time they practice. I find when my dulcimer is in perfect tuning, I play better and practice longer. If I only have about 15 minutes to practice, I usually skip the tuning. But when I’m going to have a serious session of working out a new tune, I tune first and then warm up. Here’s some tuning guidelines you might want to keep in mind.
    1. Give your dulcimer a thorough tuning at least once a week – don't ever let it get way out of tune.
    1. Always carry your tuning wrench and electronic tuner in your dulcimer case.
    1. Turn the tuning pin SLOWLY, while softly plucking continuously.
  1. Give your instrument a final checkup by matching the tones of your octaves at each bridge marker.
String-Side UP As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to ask Steve or myself.



Steve Eulberg

You are most welcome, Kendra! And we'd welcome a Habit from how YOU do it, too!
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Kendra Bartley

I am really enjoying your pointers for learning, Steve. I loved the "low hanging fruit" and also this one. It is the way I have done learning by ear, but now I feel I have "permission" to do it that way! Thanks, Kendra
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