Hammered Dulcimer Tuning Schemes


This section is dedicated to a visualization and description of my various traditional tuning schemes. I can customize a tuning scheme. Contact me if you have specific ideas The tuning charts and marking options for the Linear Chromatics are located on the page dedicated to that instrument. The tuning charts for the Tsimbls are located on their own page as well. 

Many of you are confused about Standard and Piano marking systems. These marking schemes are only offered as options for the Linear Chromatic. What appears below are what would be classified as traditional diatonic layouts for hammered dulcimers at least in the US. The instruments are more fundamentally diatonic but some of the models have additional chromaticism and added lower range. If you'd like to see a comparison of all my hammered dulcimers in chart form go to my comparative chart page.

If you need printable versions of tuning schemes along with the string gauges to go with it, go to this list of tuning charts. 

13/12 Student Tuning Chart 1" or 7/8" string spacing
12/11 Student, Custom and 15/14 Custom Tuning Chart 1" or 7/8" string spacing
16/15 Custom Tuning Chart 1" or 7/8" string spacing
3/13/12 CustomTravel and 3/17/17 Custom Chromatic Tuning Chart 7/8" string spacing
3/16/15/8 Custom and Travel Chromatic 1" or 7/8" string spacing
3/16/18/9 Custom Performance Tuning Chart 1" or 7/8" string spacing

The Custom Performance 3/16/18/9 includes D#4/G#3 on Treble 1 and all bass courses for a full four octaves. I am now adding the low D#3 on Bass 2 so a 3/16/18/9 is equivalent in notes to the my old model 3/19/18/9.

Musical Description of my Four Octave Dulcimers

My 3/16/18/9 Four Octave Chromatic Hammer Dulcimers offer an extensive range of pitches, and a variety of diatonic scales within this range. In addition several fully chromatic octaves are available. One of the unique characteristics is the location of the extended bass range on the right. This location naturally flows into the rest of the instruments capability. The range extends from a D2 an octave plus a seventh below middle C4 to an F6 two octaves plus a fourth above middle C4. Thus the actual range is three notes beyond the four octave, D2 to D6.


Six different and extended diatonic scales are available within this range. Three major scales, D, G, and E, extend the full four octaves. A fourth, A, lacks the top three notes of the fourth octave. Major scales C and F are complete for three octaves.  Within the four-octave range there are three fully chromatic octaves from the C3 below middle C4 to two octaves above middle C4 (C6). That chromatic scale extends beyond that C6 five notes to F6. The physical layout of this instrument makes for easy access to most of the tonal resources. The key of D is the easiest, with the four octaves drawn from just the Main Treble, and Bass 1 and 2 bridges. G and A are not far behind in ease of access, but E requires more acrobatics, particularly at the upper octaves. The two-plus octaves of C are quite usable, but those of F are slightly awkward.

4/19/18/8 or 4/19/18/9 Custom Performance 1" string spacing
4/19/21/9 Custom Performance 7/8"string spacing

This instrument has a total of 4 1/2 octaves. It is fully chromatic from A2 to A6 (four octaves) It uses a single treble 1 bridge and bass bridges on the right for ease of playing. This is the largest hammered dulcimer I make.