Beginners dulcimer book
General mountain dulcimer or music discussions
Greetings Sal! :D
I know you mentioned an interest in learning fingerpicking style at some point. But have you decided yet whether to begin playing the dulcimer in chording style or in traditional noter-drone style? There are learning books for each style of playing- fingerpicking, chord, and noter.
I would love to suggest that you join a couple of the Groups on this site which will have very specific discussions for their Group subject focus, such as Beginner players, stick dulcimers, fingerpicking, chord playing style, etc etc. You'll see all kinds of great discussions in the focus groups that will probably help you decide where you want to focus first! It's easy to click the Join button on any of the group main pages, and just as easy to UNjoin them later if you like. You need to JOIN a group in order to see and read its full discussions and to post in it. If you have not joined a group yet, you'll only see the first post of each discussion.
Do you have only stick dulcimers so far, and not a lap dulcimer? If you have just stick instruments with dulcimer fret patterns, then when you use dulcimer learning books intended for 'normal' lap-situated dulcimers you'll have to make some adaptations when trying to follow the book tab. That's because strumsticks have their strings reversed from the usual dulcimer setup. Lap dulcimers have the high melody string(s) closest to the player and the bass string furthest away from you. When holding a stick strummer in your lap with the peghead to your left as normal, the bass string will be closest to your body. This is the reverse of 'regular' mountain dulcimers and will confuse you a lot if you're following a tab book with chord fingering charts!
So unless you get a 'normal' lap dulcimer, you'll need to figure out how you will handle this issue when following mountain dulcimer TAB. Of course not everyone chooses to use tab, but chord charts will still present a problem if you want to play in chord style on a stick instrument- everything will need to be either mentally or physically reversed).
All that said, depending on what your goals are you can find great ways to play and love playing your stick dulcimers if that's what you want to do. In that case definitely join our Stick Group and start posting questions there on how to adjust mountain dulcimer learning materials to successfully apply to strumsticks, without losing your mind! lol! ;D
If you do get a regular mountain dulcimer to start out with, then I suggest you stay with that while learning the basics, especially if using books, because switching back and forth to strumsticks will certainly be confusing to you while just starting out playing.