I know there are several of my fellow BP players out there who also play the Appalachian style dulcimer. A friend of mine is considering buying one, but he'd like to know if they are easy to play? (He already plays guitar for comparison). Also do they have specific limitations, such as only being able to play in certain keys, etc? Any other things a beginner player should know?
The answers to all these questions and more can be found on our sister web site/community, Friends Of The Mountain Dulcimer (FOTMD). Please see their specific interest group for beginners and many instructional videos on Dulcimers.
Yes, mountain dulcimers only play in one key, they don't have a way to play half notes that are not in the key you are playing, ie, no written in accidentals can be played. But a lot of people play cords, and I guess that can get around that. I play the "old fashioned" way of using a noter (stick) to slide along the melody string leaving the other strings open as the drones while you play the tune on the melody string. Most dulcimer players tune to the key of D. Being proficient in guitar, he ought to be able to pick up the dulcimer very easily.
Thanks for the tips everyone! :)