This is by far the most common tuning scheme used for the hammered dulcimer. It is called "fifth-interval" because the treble bridge is positioned such that the note on the left side of the bridge is a perfect fifth above the note on the right. Similarly, each note on the right side of the treble bridge is a fifth interval higher than the adjacent note below it on the bass bridge.
The instrument is tuned in major scale sequences, so you can easily play in different major keys by moving to different scale groupings on the instrument. The scales available on most dulcimers with the traditional tuning are D, G, C, F, A, and their relative minors.
This fifth-interval style of tuning works very well with traditional fiddle tunes, old-time, bluegrass and dance music. People also enjoy playing original and improvisational music and arrangements of hymns, popular and classical music.
These numbers refer to the courses of strings on each bridge, and are an indication of the size and range of the instrument. For example, 12/11 means the dulcimer has 12 courses of strings on the treble bridge and 11 on the bass bridge. 3/16/15 indicates that in addition to 16 courses on the treble bridge and 15 on the bass bridge, there is an additional "superbass" bridge on the left-hand side with 3 courses of strings. The superbass bridge has notes that go lower than the bass bridge.
The solid sapele soundboard and back give this 2½-octave dulcimer a rich, full sound. Characteristic of all solid-wood instruments, the tone of the D10 continues to develop in clarity and depth the more it is played. The same compact size as the Prelude and Apprentice, this is the model for those who want the aesthetic and rich tonal quality of solid wood.
The D10, Prelude and Apprentice have 2½ octaves of range; the lowest note is the G below middle C. There are 12 courses of strings on the treble bridge and 11 courses on the bass bridge. This configuration is often referred to as "12/11". Easily available keys are G, D, C and F, along with their relative minors. There are a variety of chromatic notes available in each key.
Superscript numbers indicate octaves (C4 is middle C).
Dots indicate marked courses.
All strings are plain steel with loop ends.
Wire gauges are shown in inches.
"The dulcimer arrived in plenty of time for the holiday and was in perfect condition. I bought this as a present for my wife and she was both surprised and delighted with it. It appears to be exceptionally well-crafted. The selection of materials with no defects, the finish, and workmanship are all exemplary... It's nice to see something so well made when the pervasive mindset behind the products of our time are driven by economics to fail and thus power a marketing treadmill. You are building heirlooms of lasting quality that will be treasured by future generations. I salute you in that endeavor and trust you enjoy deep satisfaction by knowing that your work will survive as highly regarded."
-David Moniot (Chesapeake, Virginia)
"I have one of your amazing D10s, dated 10-19-82, number 942. She is still in wonderful shape, despite going through a hurricane. She still holds her tuning quite well, still sounds like a bell and I will never part with her. Your signatures are a bit faded inside, but she is a real trouper. As a 42-year-old Mom, it's great for me to play for my kids now, and to have them learn to play for themselves. The old girl is on her 2nd generation of players and I expect to pass her down (not as soon as my kids would like, though). I've never written or called your company, but I'd just like to say 'Thank You!!' I've enjoyed many hours with her."
-Elisabeth McCarthy (Algonquin, Illinois)