Do you feel limited by the diatonic scale?
General mountain dulcimer or music discussions
This is a good question...When I was learning to play, I learned the tunings for different modes, and so I would re-tune to play a particular tune. However, I like having more than one dulcimer, because I don't want to re-tune the same instrument all the time. I will tune from DAA to DAG, or from DAd to DAC, but I don't like to do more than that very often.
I do like having a 6 1/2 fret, because it gives me two modes for each tuning. For example, if I'm tuned to DAG Dorian, a minor tuning, I also can play in the Mixolydian, which is a major tuning.
As a melody-drone player, I actually feel somewhat limited by the DAD tuning. The root note of the scale is on the open string, and so melodies that go below that root note are more challenging to play. You can (usually) play those notes on the middle or bass strings, but I have a bit of a preference for having my melody notes on my melody string. I like using a tuning that places the root note a few steps toward the middle, as DAA does. Sometimes I consider inventing a fretboard that does just what I want it to do...