Reasons NOT To Get a Chromatic
Instruments- discuss specific features, luthiers, instrument problems & questions
When asked about dulcimer with “extra" frets, Jean Ritchie replied “In a strict sense it has a different finger board, it’s not quite a dulcimer anymore.”
You can find all the notes in the dulcimer's range, but you have to be willing to re-tune at least one string to do so (takes less than 30 seconds, with practice).
If you want a chromatic instrument lay a guitar on your lap and play that. Or I can build you an "acoustic lap guitar". Just don't call it a dulcimer. Part of the essential definition of Dulcimer, to many of us, is the diatonic fretboard.
If you are playing mostly "classic dulcimer songs" especially from tabulature rather than SMN, it will be 'more difficult' because the fret numbering convention is different, and you'll have to find the fewer diatonic frets among the plethora of chromatic frets. You won't be able to simply count 1,2,3,4... to find a tab numbered fret. With a chromatic instrument that becomes
1/2,1,1-1/2, 2, 3, 3-1/2, 4, 4-1/2, 5, 6, 6-1/2,7......
Also, IMHO the 'sound' of a chromatic "dulcimer" is different when you slide from note to note -- because of all the intervening chromatic notes between diatonic notes -- I hear those slides as 'muddier'...
updated by @ken-hulme: 05/12/22 08:58:32AM