Free Tablature Downloads from Joe Collins

Each month, a new set of two or more high quality dulcimer tabs will be available on this page. Please do not sell or mass distribute these tabs either in print or over the Internet.  I am making them available for individuals and for dulcimer clubs that wish to use them in their meetings.  If you like my tab, I hope you will consider purchasing some of my tablature books.

Index for this page (Click and go to the section you want)

The featured tabs for the month

Instructions for printing featured tabs

I want to be notified when new tabs are posted

Tips on reading my tab

Sound files for the featured tabs

A club where these tabs are played

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Simply click the title below to download the tab file. If you have been to my site before, you may have to click on the "Refresh" icon (two arrows chasing each other) in order to get the updated page with the newly posted tablature. If you do not have Acrobat Reader, see instructions below


Glad Christmas Bells. This is a traditional American Christmas carol. The earliest publication of it that I can find is in the Franklin Square Song Collection No. 1 (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1881). I've provided three different versions for you below. There are two Key of G versions: one for the DGd tuning for you Christmas adventurers and the other is for DAd with a capo on the third fret for those of you who want only slight adventures. The two can be played together. I've also provided a Key of D version in DAd tuning for those of you who are diehard DAd fans. After all, it's Christmas!

       Key of G Versions
             Glad Christmas Bells (DGd)
             Glad Christmas Bells (DAd with capo on 3rd fret)
       Key of D Version
             Glad Christmas Bells (DAd)

The First Noel (DAd). Some believe that this traditional carol is of French origin because of the French spelling of the word Noel. However, the earliest publications in the early 19th century used the English spelling Nowell. Even though the origins probably go back to the 16th century are uncertain, a good case has been made that it is, indeed, English. Regardless of its origins, it now belongs to all of Christendom as one of the most dearly loved of Christmas carols.

This is a crosspicked version. There is a linear version in my book Christmas with the Mountain Dulcimer. By linear, I mean that most, if not all, the melody is played on a single string. In a crosspicked version, the melody shifts much more between the different strings. This version will be great practice for those of you working on your crosspicking skills because most of the melody is on the bass and middle strings. It may also force you to vary your strumming and picking directions to make it sound really good. Another challenge of this song, in general, are the numerous fast chord changes in a couple of sections. However, when you master it, you can put together an arrangement that uses both a linear and crosspicked versions.

I have provided sound files for the free tabs.

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If you would like to be notified by e-mail whenever I post new tablature, please place your e-mail address in the box below and click on subscribe.


Once you are on my e-mail list, you will receive a notification about once a month.  Many of the people on my list are within driving distance of Shelby, NC so you may receive a couple of e-mails per year concerning dulcimer workshops and events in Shelby.  If you are not within driving distance, please forgive me.

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Tips on Reading My Tablature

Different authors use different conventions when writing out tablature.  I have chosen to do mine in a way that is easy for beginners to use.  First of all, the numerals that are in bolder, larger print represent the melody of the tune.  If you do not play chords, you can simply use one finger (or more) to play only the melody notes with your noting hand while strumming all the strings.

If you do choose to the play the chords I suggest, realize that I do not put down the complete chord for every single note.  I feel like doing so clutters the page with too many numerals.  When you change into a chord (designated above the musical notes by letters - D, A, Bm, F#m, etc.), I assume that you will hold that chord until the next chord change.  In other words, all fingers will stay in the same position except the ones for which the numerals change until the next chord change.  When one numeral is listed for a note, it does not mean that you can hit only that string.  Provided you keep the chord position that is listed under the most recent chord name, you can continue hitting all the strings.

Occasionally I will use an "X".  This means to avoid hitting that string at all.  Otherwise, it does not hurt to strum all the strings.

If a capo is called for, I follow the same conventions each time.  I do not renumber the frets except for the fret where the capo is placed.  That way the open position is still "0," just like without a capo.  However, 5 still represents the 5th fret.  Therefore, with the capo on the 4th fret, I have no numerals below 5, except for, of course, "0."

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The tabs are in an ACROBAT format.  If your computer does not presently have Acrobat Reader, it is available free of charge at the click of a button below.  Just click and follow directions.  You will then be able to read and print out the files using Acrobat Reader.  

Get Acrobat Reader

Click the box to download the reader necessary for reading and printing the tabs.

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Sound Files

Do you need to hear the song in order to learn it?  I know that for me, it is easier to learn a song if I can hear how it goes first.  You can download the following files.  They are in a midi format and can be played on a windows media player.  If you do not currently have a media player, one can be downloaded by clicking HERE.  The sound files are generally played at a slower pace than I would normally play them.

Glad Christmas Bells - Key of G

Glad Christmas Bells - Key of D

The First Noel

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The Foothills Dulcimer Club

The Foothills Dulcimer Club of Shelby, NC meets once a month.  The featured tabs for the meeting are the same ones as on this site.  Please click on the button below to find out more about the club, its meeting times, etc.  We'd love to have you come and join us!

Go to Foothills Dulcimer Club page

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