DAD tuning and very taut melody string

robert schuler
robert schuler
@robert-schuler
5 years ago
251 posts

A marine band harmonica tuned to D works for me. Blow into first hole for low D or forth hole for high D. My ears do the rest. And I can play along with myself too... Can't do that with a clip on... Robert.

Salt Springs
Salt Springs
@salt-springs
5 years ago
169 posts

There is a pretty good article on this idea on Wikipedia under Pythagorean tuning with some sound samples..................if you can figure it out let me know....way to much for this boy...whew!  I'll stick with 440...though I have to wonder how some of those medieval tune that Jessica Coumeau plays would sound...as for me and my house Old Joe Clark is about as wild as it gets.   Might just drop her a note and see what she thinks............if anyone would know she would be at the top of my list as her wizardry on a dulcimer is something to behold.  

 

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pythagorean_tuning

al z
al z
@al-z
5 years ago
5 posts

Oh yeah! For me.... mixed results. I did not get the whole "Spiritual Enhancement" from the music. It did sound different, but not unpleasing. Tried it on the guitar, the mandolin and the fiddle,  but not the dulcimer yet. I'd not want to try it on the main harp ( too many strings ) , but might someday try it on the 26 string one.. maybe. I play with others and it's more important to be in tune with them.

Salt Springs
Salt Springs
@salt-springs
5 years ago
169 posts

 Hey Al, question for you: "Have you tried tuning with a tuner set at 432 mhz vice 440?   Checking some video near the link you posted above.........I've used it before and thought it was a bit odd....how about you?

al z
al z
@al-z
5 years ago
5 posts

No worries! That why we're all 'Friends' here. Just for you.... visit this URL at YouTube : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e6ZVBlppFeI   . This is the 220 Hz Tone that you want for the middle string. From there, you can tune by fretting the dulcimer to get the other two strings. Getting the high 'dd' strings is real easy, just fret the correctly tuned middle string to the 3rd fret, then pluck the A and the 'dd' strings ( one at a time ) until the tone matches. The lower D is just a little bit tougher - fret the lower D on the 4th fret, and pluck the open middle string. Be sure to twist the correct gear - you're adjusting the D string that your finger is on. The earlier comment about wearing glasses is a real wise idea - when my strings blew, I got three nice slices on my fingers!  

And one more thing to "Fret" about. As long as you are only playing by yourself, and not to a YouTube video or an MP3 song, you can tune your dulcimer just like I said above, but you can pick ANY TONE AT ALL for the middle string - As long as the other three are in a correct relationship , your playing ( the hard part to learn ) will sound fine. You just won't be able to play with anyone else. Think about this: the Olde Tymers didn't have electric doodads to help them tune. If they were REAL lucky they could find an 440-A tuning fork - the "Standard" reference for violins and such. However they all had the exact same tools you were born with - a pair of ears. That and the song that almost everyone knows, "Do a Deer" . The "Re" note is your "D", the "La" note is your "A". Your memory and your ear may note be perfect, but it'll work. And if, perchance , you set down to play with someone else, you retune - or they retune to match tunings. [ I'f I'm playing my dulci, with my wife who is playing her 36 string harp - She ain't gonna retune to match my four strings ] 

ellozz
@ellozz
5 years ago
7 posts

Dusty Turtle:
A = 440 is merely for calibrating your tuner.  But that A is actually an octave above the middle string A of a dulcimer tuned DAd. For a standard dulcimer tuned DAd, the bass D should be 146.8, the middle A should be 220, and the melody D should be 293.7.   Ellozz, for a 27" dulcimer the string gauges you are using seem very reasonable to me. Just put on some glasses before you tune and hope for the best.

Thank you for the numbers, I will write those down...I am assuming I would get those on some tuners, I don't seem to on mine. Just a little wand that goes green when its "right". There are some numbers, but they are more like 20 and 40, etc. Sorry folks, I am a rank beginner and don't know much about music and tuning (yet).

ellozz
@ellozz
5 years ago
7 posts

Ken Hulme:
Tuning Tip -- Never try to tune a "silent" string.  Pluck the string and while it's singing turn the tuner knob you that think is the right one 1/4 turn slack (not tight).  If you do not hear the singing string lower in tone, you're turning the wrong knob.  But since you slacked first, you won't snap it accidentally.

You are quite right, and that is a good tip! Luckily I caught myself before I did snap the string!

Ken Hulme
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
5 years ago
1,870 posts

Tuning Tip -- Never try to tune a "silent" string.  Pluck the string and while it's singing turn the tuner knob you that think is the right one 1/4 turn slack (not tight).  If you do not hear the singing string lower in tone, you're turning the wrong knob.  But since you slacked first, you won't snap it accidentally.

Dusty Turtle
Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
5 years ago
1,488 posts

A = 440 is merely for calibrating your tuner.  But that A is actually an octave above the middle string A of a dulcimer tuned DAd.

For a standard dulcimer tuned DAd, the bass D should be 146.8, the middle A should be 220, and the melody D should be 293.7.

 

Ellozz, for a 27" dulcimer the string gauges you are using seem very reasonable to me. Just put on some glasses before you tune and hope for the best.




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Dusty T., Northern California
Site Moderator

As a musician, you have to keep one foot back in the past and one foot forward into the future.
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Skip
Skip
@skip
5 years ago
291 posts

I think you s/b using C [chromatic] mode with that tuner. V is for violin, G, guitar and B, Bass.

ellozz
@ellozz
5 years ago
7 posts

Thank you for that explanation, al-z! I don't have a piano...so I did the only thing I could and found a piano keyboard  and also DAD tuning MP3s on the internet... each sample matches with the sounds my dulcimer's strings are putting forth, so I guess its as good as its going to get!

al z
al z
@al-z
5 years ago
5 posts

A clarification. Most tuners use a 440 Mhz tone for the A. That has nothing to do with the range that the tuner can appreciate a tone. Best bet is to find a piano or keyboard ( piano being a bit better for this exercise ) and find the Middle C ( named so as it's in the Middle of the Piano - not really, but it suffices ).  That is the C that is between the Bass and Treble Clefs on a sheet of music. The REAL A-440 is the A above the middle C. The Mountain Dulcimer A is the one below middle C .  So, find a piano, play the A on the dulcimer, play the two A's on the piano and figure out which one matches. If you've got the correct range then it's a matter of playing with strings. If you have found that you've tuned an octave too high, then dial it back.

ellozz
@ellozz
5 years ago
7 posts

Thanks for all the advice, you guys are great! Turns out my VSL is 27. My tuner is a Play-On digital tuner, and will only tune in the 440 range. I have modes C, G, B, and V. ( I use V, is that correct?)  The D melody is quite tight but it hasn't broken, so I guess its ok... 

Bob Reinsel
Bob Reinsel
@bob-reinsel
5 years ago
79 posts

Another thought is that the strings may be old.  Over time, the metal in strings gets work-hardened from tuning, re-tuning, strumming, etc.  Eventually they loose their ability to stretch and they become brittle.  If you are still using the same strings that were on the instrument when you received it, I recommend putting new ones on.




--
Bob
Site Moderator

The greatest music is made for love, not for money -- Greg Lake
al z
al z
@al-z
5 years ago
5 posts

Too right!  ellozz  , start with what your VSL ( vibrating string length ) is. Once you know that length, there are a number of tools that will allow you to calculate the string you want ( need ) to use. I have built harps and oh boy, talk about a compromise! For every string there is a range of lengths that you can tune a range of string diameters to. Each Length / Diameter value will give you a different sound quality. My local music store has "generic" strings behind the counter and I can just grab a pair of 0.008's or 0.013's and try 'em for cheap. Worth the experiment.

Skip
Skip
@skip
5 years ago
291 posts

I'v found a lot of MD tab/smn is written an octave higher than it is played. Many new folks miss the fact the melody string(s) tuning [DAdd] is D4, the D one whole step above middle C [C4].

I suspect  ellozz  has a rather long VSL, maybe 30" or more, and probably needs to use .009/.010 on the melody string. If this is true, smaller gauges on the other strings may be in order also.

al z
al z
@al-z
5 years ago
5 posts

I broke my to 'dd' strings right off the bat after building my new MD. Problem was !! Which A !! to tune to. I was reading sheet music for the MD and taking my cues from where the A is on the sheet music - that being a 440Mhz tone , which made the dd's even that much higher - snap -bang - blood!

Asking some questions here, I found that the middle string should be tuned to 220Mhz - an entire octave lower than I expected. Instrument sounds great and no more blood. However... I am probably going to up the gauge on the dd's as they are actually looser than I'd like for my style of play. 

I may well be incorrect here, but it seems to work out fine. I play a multitude of other instruments and this is the first time that the sheet music bit me.

 

Salt Springs
Salt Springs
@salt-springs
5 years ago
169 posts

Ken always knows his stuff and when I started playing years ago got me straightened out on the string tuning notation.  I was breaking strings like you and my problem was related to exactly what he was talking about.  Those J64 should work fine for you but since they are not and you have a tuner there are a couple of things you might want to check.   First, check to see what the calibration on your tuner is set to...........is it 440?  Second, try this tune your base string to where there is just enough tension to get a clear sound.  Not to floppy and not to tight.  Check and see what your note is with your tuner. Tune it to D.............middle string.........tune it to where it is making a clear note, again not to tight and not to loose.............check it and tune it to A...........when you get to the melody strings repeat the process and see what note they are playing.  This is where I was messing up when I started......I was trying to tune way beyond the d, going into an entirely different octave.

On the other hand, as Ken points out your fret board may require entirely different gauge strings because of its length......until you get it worked out I would tune CGc............of course that is your choice..............for me DAA and a noter or DAA and fancy finger hopping as I call it, is the way to go as a beginner and an advanced player. This link might help you.............

http://www.jcrmusic.com/Learning.html


updated by @salt-springs: 01/27/16 09:49:53AM
ellozz
@ellozz
5 years ago
7 posts

Thank you for the help, I appreciate the suggestions, I will check out the Struthers String calculator!  Presently I am using D'Addario Dulcimer strings, J64 nickel wound (.022, .014, .012). And yes, I have broken two of the melody strings which were the .012. Thus my concern, since I was being very slow and careful. I dont have the dulcimer with me to measure but will tomorrow. 

Ken Hulme
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
5 years ago
1,870 posts

It all depends on what the current string gauges are, and the VSL -- the Vibrating String Length, or distance between the nut and bridge.  Unfortunately "extremely taut" is sort of subjective.  What's extremely taut to you might not be to someone else.

Tell us the VSL, and ask your f-i-l what gauges of string he had on the dulcimer when he gifted it to you. 

Once you know the VSL you can go to the Strothers String Gauge Calculator, enter the VSL and choose "d"  not "D" for the note you wnt to tune to.  The calculator will tell you what gauge the string should be for that note and that VSL.  Be sure to select "d" not "D".  Most people today write DAd rather than DAD, because that tells the reader that the bass string D and the Melody string d are an octave apart -- the melody string being higher in pitch.

Usually a melody string that can tuned to A can also be tuned to d, although it certainly will be more taut at d than at A.

Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
5 years ago
2,002 posts

What is your 'scale length'- the length in inches from the bridge to the nut?

And do you happen to know what gauge/thickness of strings are on it now?

Sometimes the tightness can seem extreme to a new player and yet not really be too much.  After all, the melody string(s) are not actually breaking when tuned up to high d, right?




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Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
ellozz
@ellozz
5 years ago
7 posts

I have a dulcimer gifted to me by my father-in-law, who made it. I am taking lessons and have been encouraged to use DAD instead of DAA. To my ear, DAA sounds better on this dulcimer, and while I can get it tuned to DAD, the "D" melody string is extremely taut, so tight that I hold my breath when I slowly tighten it to D. Is this normal, and does anyone have any thoughts on this? 


updated by @ellozz: 06/08/16 09:24:05PM