If you ever heard a beautiful sound from someone playing a stringed instrument, you’ll probably think that it’s a guitar, mandolin or something similar. But, you probably heard the dulcimer, the instrument invented somewhere in the Middle East and then spread to all over the world.
The instrument can produce a lovely sound similar to the guitar as the name dulcimer means “sweet sound”. Dulcimer can be used in different types of music folk, jazz, blues and even in rock and roll.
Dulcimer comes in several types and varieties:
This early version is probably invented in the Middle East in the 9th century. Then it was brought to other continents and according to some references, dulcimer for the first time was noticed in the USA in Salem, Massachusetts, in the beginning of 18th century.
The hammered dulcimer can be found in various sizes, and it has a form of a trapezoidal box with parallel strings which are placed across four bridges usually. The strings are usually in pairs and two of them make a note. The instrument is usually fixed to a table or stand and the player makes a sound with small spoons holding in both hands and striking the strings with them.
Appalachian dulcimer has an unusually soft and melodic sound that distinguishes him from all other strings instruments and gives it a special and unique color. They appeared in North America, in the area of the western slopes of the Appalachian Mountains, when the first emigrants from Scottish islands brought it there.
The body can be in the form of a drop or hourglass, made of pine or cedar, douglas-fir or poplar and the front side of the body has several holes for releasing the sound. The head is placed on the top and fret board is divided into 17 frets of various lengths. There are four strings which are used to play the sound. The player uses the same way to play it as a guitar; it must be used a special slightly elongated mediator or quill pen.
Banjo dulcimer is a modified Appalachian dulcimer with a vibrating membrane added to the body of the instrument. The difference between the standard Appalachian dulcimer and this version is that changes of the volume and tone work on the same principle as on banjo.
Resonator dulcimer is another modification of Appalachian dulcimer with a metal resonating cone placed at the end of the body and its role is to receive and acoustically amplify all the vibrations of the strings. Despite the great sound produced by this dulcimer, it has never achieved larger commercial production.
Bowed dulcimer is the third version of Appalachian dulcimer with three strings. It’s a zither instrument looks like a hybrid between a cello and dulcimer and it needs to be used violin bow to play it.
Electric dulcimer is an instrument similar to an electric guitar. It uses a pickup to boost the sound. The most known instrument is electric Appalachian dulcimer but it’s also possible to find electric hammered dulcimers.
A list of best dulcimer, another name of Appalachian dulcimer can be found by clicking the link.
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