I'm new to the group, also new to the psaltry. I have a 30 string, starting at F; I can play every scale for at least one octave from A to G so was not conscious of being in a specific key. I'm confused...

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This can be confusing!

I think you mentioned you had a Unicorn Strings psaltery so no doubt it's chromatic, meaning it isn't in any specific key. Like a piano you can play in any key. WIth the bowed psaltery you are more limited by your number of octaves and highest and lowest note than by key.

Some people do tune their psalteries to a specific key, but if you only own one I wouldn't recommend that. It would limit you when playing with other people.

I don't know a lot about this but some of our members are educated in music theory and will be better able to explain.  

Most are tuned to C I think.  If the C# and F# are on the right and regular 

C and F are on the left, it has been tuned to D.  Those are the most common tunings I think.


I agree - If you only have one psaltery - C is the best choice.  But I LOVE have one tuned to D too.  Makes it so much

easier to play along with dulcimer groups and so many of the songs I like playing along with for practice seem to be played in D too.  

OK... thanks everyone; confusion begone.

Terry, we have dulcimers in common; I'm thinking of recording one instrument and playing along with the other. Different voices but maybe a good combination... can I still use my current psaltry to play along?

You can but it's easier if you have a psaltery tuned to D.  Or you can retune your dulcimer

to CGC.  Then the C psaltery would work great.  I don't play dulcimer yet - but may one of these days.  Have a friend with 18 dulcimers and she's wanting to GIVE me one so I'll learn it too.  :)  I'm kind of worried about catching  DAD (Dulcimer Acquisition Disease) like so many dulcimer players do.    

You nailed it, Terry; thanks... please note the sheepish grin. Yes, I am theory-challenged but still, that should have been a no-brainer.

Please, do yourself a favor & say "yes" to your friend. You won't be sorry, and you will have done a good thing by giving her space to store her next dulcimer...

If I do decide to learn the dulcimer. (I'd HAVE To be given one as I don't plan on buying one right now)

then I'd learn chording mostly and some arpeggios and enough of the rest to fake sounding impressive probably.     I'd prefer that psaltery stay my main instrument.  Having too much fun with that right now to change instruments.    I learned guitar years ago and learned chords and a few arpeggios and had people thinking I really knew my way around a guitar.  It worked well enough for playing at church.


I can definitely get that; I'm juggling 4 very different instruments at the moment & am learning that what happens with one does not directly affect anything that you do with the others...

Which is OK; the tricky question of "when do I play what" tends to come up a lot, tho.


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