Dulcimer History

By | April 11, 2021


Dulcimer is a fretted stringed instrument. Dulcimers have three to eight strings, extending along a flat neck and over a hollow sound chamber.

Early use

Early dulcimers were picked with a feather knife and corroded with a wooden doll or bone, called a musician. The lower strings drummed open, served as drone notes, while the upper string was used for the melody.


Originally used for Appalachian folk music, the players adapted dulcimer to Celtic, American folk, country, Cajun and gospel music. Musicians developed improvements to suit different styles of music, including the addition of more frets and strings. They also began to use their fingers, instead of notes and quills, to mill and strum the strings.


While modern manufactured dulcimers have popular body styles and fret and string layouts, traditionalists still create their own instruments according to their individual interpretation. Patterns vary depending on body shape, fret distance and number of strings, depending on where they are made and musical.

Fun facts h2> Dulcimer is also known as Appalachian dulcimer, hog fiddle, lap dulcimer and mountain dulcimer. It is the official state instrument of Kentucky. The word ‘dulcimer’ is thought to be derived from the Latin ‘dulcis’ and the Greek ‘melos’, meaning ‘sweet music’. Europe’s settlers in the Appalachian Mountains are believed to have made the first dulcimers in the 19th century. Dulcimer was considered the only truly American folk instrument, inspired by guitar and deep-fried citation, a harp-like instrument with frets.