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I was inspired by pictures on the clubhouse forum, and in David Sutton's book, to build a 4 string CBG with diatonic fretting. - I'm now wondering which side of the guitar to put my lowest string? Should I string it like a guitar, with the bass string nearest me, or like my dulcimer, with it on the other side? - The plan was to string it DDAD like the dulcimer, but now I'm wondering if I should reverse this ?? !! I hope this makes sense. Maybe I'm being foolish, but I think maybe I would feel more comfortable with the lowest string where it would be on a guitar, since I'll be playing it like a guitar?

- Sorry ! Long question for a simple answer, which may come down to simple personal preference...

Anybody have any advice / an opinion?

Cheers -


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I always put my pair to the bottom on a dulci strummer, with the bass string to the top. It just seems more normal to me. Once you play it you'll be hooked.

if holding and playing like a guitar , string it accordingly

Thanks guys. I think bass string to the top, like a guitar, is what I'm going to stick with. I've managed to get my head around chords on the dulcimer, so I hope that playing them 'upside down' won't be a problem!

Completed, and sounding, (to me anyway), really nice. Video added to my page. I will try and improve my playing, as already I find it more manageable than the lap dulcimer.

If you string your stick dulcimer like a guitar (as most folks do), the drone strings will ring out before the melody string does, so the melody will be a bit muddled by the drone sound, unless you do all your strumming with an up stroke. Since up-strumming is an unnatural way to strum, and if you want to play with the melody ringing out above the drone strings, you can string your instrument like a mountain dulcimer, but you will have to reach up and over the drone strings when stopping the melody string. This can be done, but it probably isn't that easy. It will also require a fairly thin and slender neck/fretboard so your fingers won't have to reach so far. Another possibility is to learn to play by stopping the melody string with your thumb like Russians do their third string when playing the balalaika. But, practically speaking, most people settle for the slightly muddled sound that is produced when the strings are strung like a guitar.

Other folks opt to double their melody string (as is done for all 4 string courses on 8 string mandolins) which helps to make the melody sound a bit stronger with a bit more sustain and a noticeably different sound. This also helps to make the melody ring out a bit more than the drone strings. However, a doubled melody string sounds best when the arrangement is such that all the notes of the melody are played on the melody string. If you play notes on the single second or third strings, they will sound much different that the notes produced on the doubled melody string. Same with chords. Seems there is no easy answer unless you both string it like a mountain dulcimer and play it like a mountain dulcimer (in your lap or on a table in front of you).

IMHO, the mountain dulcimer will always sound "sweeter" (melody less muddled by the drones) than a stick dulcimer strung and played guitar style.


Thanks Rand. 

You've hit upon my initial concern. - I doubled the melody string, and strung the thing like a guitar. It doesn't quite match the sound of the dulcimer, and I find myself playing pieces more slowly, as the melody is being played at the end part of the strum. It feels like a rhythm instrument, rather than a lead instrument...Particularly when I've plugged it in to an amp.

I also prefer my mountain dulcimer, but the dulcimer stick is sounding nice, and has earned me a few drinks in the bar when I've played it. 

Thanks for taking the time to reply to my question. 

I'm definitely going to make another one, (with a shorter neck length), and will string it the other way around for comparison.

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