10/19/18/8 Custom Linear Chromatic - Marking Options
The tuning/pitches of my LCs are the same. The two different marking schemes described below are two ways of navigating the same tuning. The Standard marking may be more suited to those players already accustom to the traditional diatonic marking of most American hammered dulcimers. The Piano marking may be best suited to those of you who have never played a hammered dulcimer before or who have had a background in piano instruction.
Standard marking option
The Standard Marking has all the white and black markers where they would be on a traditional dulcimer but adds the bronze colored acetal markers to indicate the additional added chromatic notes. Fifth tunings across treble bridges are preserved.

Note: Dan Landrum has some additional color coded marks that help him navigate the Standard Marking system, the marking system he is using.

The photos below gives you more detail as to how the Standard Marking would look. I no longer use brass for the extra accidentals but a bronze colored acetal rod.

10/19/18/8 LC Tuning Chart with Standard Marking


The 10/19/18/8 Linear Chromatic with Standard marking above has a natural Redwood soundboard with a Birdseye Maple Frame and matching pin panels with Cardinal wood trim and bridges

Piano marking option
10/19/18/8 LC Tuning Chart with Piano Marking

The Piano Marking system places the white marks on all the white keys of the piano and all the black on the accidentals just as it would be in a piano. You can also instead of white make the natural wood the black and add just white to indicate the white notes or vice versa. On the fifth interval treble1 bridge and treble 2 you would have the two colors indicating the note on either side of the bridge. This way of marking would confuse traditional hammered dulcimer players but may be more appealing to piano players who are used to just two colors (See photo below)

The other option is of course the Standard Marking scheme which is shown at the top of this page. This option usually is more understandable for those players who are already familiar with the traditional hammered dulcimer. If you are a new player without experience with either the piano or the traditional hammered dulcimer, you probably should consider using the piano marking. Read Neil Simmon's rational.


The instrument pictured in the above photos is a 4 1/2 Octave 10/19/18/8 Linear Chromatic with dampers and piano markings. This instrument has a redwood soundboard made black, birdseye maple frame and matching pin panels , paduak bridges, cardinal wood trim with paduak dampers. Only the courses on the main treble bridge, and both bass bridges are damped. Courses on the left most treble bridge are not damped. more information on dampers

This is the piano marking with somewhat narrower shoulders. White are still white notes on the piano, black or a dark wood are black notes. Note where it is black on one side and white on the other. I now use a continuous black center saddle leaving the natural wood representing the black unless the bridges are maple in which case it would be reserved. I would paint the black notes on the wood leaving the blonde maple to be the white.


Alternative bass (B2) tunings

Currently my standard is the 10 courses tuned to continue the chromatic progression down to G2. In previous versions of the instrument, I had the courses on B2 somewhat out of the chromatic progression making those bass courses more rhythm courses to include a low D2. If that is something you'd prefer contact me and we can custom tailor the courses on B2 to your needs.

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