Thursday, February 26, 2009


The mountain dulcimer is an instrument full of grace in every way. It soothes the soul and makes the heart glad. Doesn't matter how fast or how slow you play, how fancy or how simple you play. This is part of the dulcimer's ageless beauty- it is both willing and able to express anyone's inner music, young or old, absolute beginner or experienced musician. It lends its grace to every person's music...
Here is a very simplified tab for beginners to play the beloved and inspiring hymn Amazing Grace. Click on the picture to enlarge it. This version is in DAA in the key of D. Play it often and feel its beauty:

Once you are comfortable with playing it, try to learn to play it without looking at the paper- just work on one line at a time, it's really not that hard once you've played it many times. Most of you know the hymn already in your head. For beginners, it's often easier to learn a single simple melody line without peeking than to remember chord fingerings. The drones will make it sound heavenly without any fancy playing at all!
You will be proud when you can play it by ear and make it your very own!


  1. Hi Lisa,

    What program are you using to generate your TAB? It is so clear and easy to follow.

    I'm hoping you will post some comments on how you have modified the traditional Galax tuning to better suite your needs. I can understand you using dddA to play in Ionian, or dddC for Aeolian, but it seems like you use other tunings as well.

    Great job on your blog! Keep your entries coming :)

  2. Hi Steve, thanks!! :)
    I will indeed be posting more about tunings for various keys. When playing old-time fiddle tunes, I play in the keys of A,D,C,and G. I don't use capos.
    I have a 28 1/2"scale dulcimer I use for playing in D and C, and a 26 1/2" scale dulicmer (my Galax) for playing in A and G.
    As I replied to Ron's blog comments recently:

    Your longer scaled dulcimer will be often tuned to DAA or DDA to play in the key of D, and lowered one step down to CGG or CCG to play in the key of C.
    Your shorter scale dulcimer will be often tuned to EAE to play in the key of A, and lowered one step down to DGD to play in the key of G. A shorter scale of 26"-27" enables you to tune up to E easily without breaking strings. I used to break too many when tuning up to E on my 28 1/2" scale dulcimer, that's why I had my slightly shorter Galax one built (26 1/2").
    Hope this helps until I elaborate more in future posts.

    As to what program generates my TAB...well it's funny but *I* actually DRAW it...pulling around lines, numbers and text individually by myself in standard computer drawing programs, not music tabbing programs. So, no program actually 'generates' it. I am a technical illustrator for a living, so I'm pretty handy with drawing on the computer- it's what I do all day! ;)

    I truly get inspired to write more by the folks who respond to my blog. :D

  3. So, what drawing program do you use? I use Inkscape and the GIMP.