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The Appalachian dulcimer is widely used in the American old-time music tradition. The instrument first appeared in the early 1800s from the Scots-Irish in the southern Appalachian Mountains, and is thus also called a Mountain dulcimer. The instrument became used as a parlor instrument, as its sound volume was well-suited to small home gatherings.

A traditional way to play the instrument is to lay it flat on the lap and pluck or strum the strings with one hand, while fretting with the other. The dulcimer may also be placed in a similar position on a piece of furniture such as a table or chest of drawers, to enhance the sound. There are two predominant methods of fretting. First, the strings may be depressed with the fingertips of the fretting hand. Using this technique, all the strings may be fretted allowing the player to produce chords. Second, the melody string, the string closest to the player, may be depressed with a noter (included in our Mountain Dulcimers), typically a short length of dowel or bamboo. Using this method, only the doubled (so that the melody can be better heard over the drones) melody string is fretted and the other strings act as drone strings. In this second style of playing, the combination of the drone strings and the buzz of the noter on the melody strings produces a unique sound.

The Appalachian dulcimer is both easy to learn to play, and capable of complexity, providing scope for a wide range of professionals and hobbyists.

Dulcimer Banjos are a more recent guitar-like version of the Mountain Dulcimer, with the addition of a vibrational membrane to the main body of the instrument.

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