Dusty--Thanks for mentioning scale positions. Since I am most comfortable playing by ear, I think in terms of scale positions and then transpose to the correct fret positions based on how my instrument is tuned (and possibly by what mode I'm playing in, but I don't actually think about modes!).
I also usually do a "tuning check" in addition to tuning individual strings with a Snark or Korg tuner. Since I'm using a 1-5-8 tuning, Icompare the open bass and melody strings with the middle string at the 3rd fret. I thencompare the open middle string with the bass and melody strings fretted on the 4th fret.
Tuned DAd, that means I first listen to eachstring playing a D, followed by each string playing an A.
If I'm playing alone, though, and don't have a tuner handy, this is a good way to tune the dulcimer to itself.
It's also a quick way to check the tuning after apiece using a vigorous strum or periodically during a long jam session.
Jan Potts, Lexington, KY
"Use what talents you possess; the woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best." Henry Van Dyke