Care and Cleaning of Hammered Dulcimers

The Hammered Dulcimer is a unique musical instrument.  They have more strings than any other stringed instrument with the exceptions of the Piano and Harpsichord.  By far the most critical aspect of owning a Hammered Dulcimer is the tuning.  Pianos have an extremely heavy cast iron support system to keep the soundboard, and therefore the tuning, stable.  A Piano is anything BUT portable!  One of the names for a Hammered Dulcimer in the American Northeast was the "lumberjacks piano."  HD's are very portable ... which is wonderful because you can play them anywhere!  HD's have to be tuned and if you are the owner/player of a Hammered Dulcimer YOU are the person who needs to be familiar and comfortable with ... tuning it!  I usually tell people if they are purchasing their first HD that they should spend equal amounts of time tuning and playing.  That doesn't sound like much fun but it pays great dividends down the road.  Your HD ... might not seem like it needs much tuning but if you take the time to carefully listen and check for the accuracy of the tuning you will be improving your ear ... and improving the sound of your instrument which makes the music better.  Here are a couple tips to keep your instrument in the best tuning possible:

  1. Never leave your HD in direct sunlight ... like in front of a picture window.
  2. Try not to ever play it in direct sunlight as well ... find a shady place if possible.
  3. Never place your HD close to a heating or cooling source like heating/cooling vents in you house.
  4. Play your HD, for at least 10 - 15 minutes, every single day ... even if it's just scales.  An HD will hold it's tune better the more you play it.  
  5. If you're traveling someplace away from where you normally play ... pack it just before you leave and unpack it as soon as you arrive at your new playing destination.  Let it acclimate for as long as you are comfortably able before checking tuning and playing.

A good general rule is ... if you are comfortable ... your HD is probably comfortable.  Not too warm, not too cold, not too damp ... not too dry!

A good way to keep dust off your instrument is to lay a fine thread count, breathable pillow case over the strings when you're not playing it.  It is likely to accumulate some dust over time regardless and a great way to clean it is to use a soft, long bristle paint brush.  Brush in the direction of the strings. 

Sometimes the strings can accumulate slight corrosion from either climate ... or excessive touching with your hands.  We provide a couple accessories to help keep your strings bright, shiney and ringing true.  One is the Blitz String Cleaning Kit and the other is a rubber polishing cake impregnated with emory which works kind of like a pencil eraser!  You can find them both on the Accessory page (link up top next to our logo).

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