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Mountain Dulcimers

Updated on October 13, 2014

The Mystery of the Mountain Dulcimer

From the hills and hollers of the Appalachian Mountains comes a stringed instrument with a sweet and haunting song: The Mountain Dulcimer. Although the facts of its origins are lost to history, it is widely accepted that the dulcimer came from Kentucky.

Many people believe, that the instrument had its origins with emigrants from Scotland and the British Isles who settled in the mountains. Missing the drone of the bagpipes, they developed a lap harp with a similar sound. Indeed, many of the old folk tunes of Appalachia carry a Celtic sound.

The name is derived from the Latin ("dulcis" meaning sweet) and Greek ("melos" meaning song). If you have not heard the sweet song of the mountain dulcimer, check out some of the videos on this lens and let me know what you think in the comments.

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Black Mountain Dulcimers

Black Mountain Dulcimers have a good reputation for making a quality instrument. If you are looking for a well-made dulcimer, for either practice or performance, this instrument is a good investment.

Black Mountain Best Dulcimer 58 Deluxe
Black Mountain Best Dulcimer 58 Deluxe

This is the top of the line dulcimer made by Black Mountain.


Wildwood Flower on the Mountain Dulcimer - Played by Stephen Seifert

Stephen Seifert is one of the best dulcimer players in our day. In this video he is playing the traditional Wildwood Flower. Let me know what you think!

Mountain Dulcimer Poll

Did you like Wildwood Flower played by Stephen Seifert on the mountain dulcimer?

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Jean Ritchie on the Mountain Dulcimer - Jean Ritchie Playing Shady Grover

I grew up listening to Jean Ritchie on the dulcimer. Here is a classic tune she played on Pete Seeger's Rainbow Quest. The show aired in 1965 and 1966, a time when American folk music was highly popular.

Mountain Dulcimer Poll

How did you like Jean Ritchie playing Shady Grove on the Mountain Dulcimer?

See results

Humor on the Mountain Dulcimer - Susan Trump plays the Packrat Blues

Yesterday, my daughter and I attended a Dulcimer Festival in Richmond, Kentucky. Susan Trump was one of the guest instructors. Here she is playing the Packrat Blues, lest you get the idea that the mountain dulcimer is overly serious.

Mountain Dulcimer Poll

Did you enjoy Susan Trump singing and playing the Packrat Blues on the mountain dulcimer?

See results

More Mountain Dulcimer Music

If you would like to listen to more beautiful music played on the mountain dulcimer, check out these recordings!

Masters of the Mountain Dulcimer Vol.1
Masters of the Mountain Dulcimer Vol.1

A compilation, by Susan Trump, of the top dulcimer masters of the 1990's with a range of styles from traditional to classical and pop.

There is also a Volume 2, which is available through Amazon.

Jean Ritchie
Jean Ritchie
Ballads From Her Appalachian Family Tradition
Ballads From Her Appalachian Family Tradition

Traditional Appalachian ballads and folk songs sung by the incomparable Jean Ritchie.

3-String Simplicity Dulcimer
3-String Simplicity Dulcimer

A very affordable dulcimer for a beginning student or anyone who wants to try out the instrument before making a larger financial commitment.


Try Out the Mountain Dulcimer - For beginners not ready to make a full commitment

If you think you might like playing the mountain dulcimer, but are not ready to make a full commitment to an instrument that costs several hundred dollars, try this model made of cardboard. Yes, cardboard!

I had the opportunity to play one of these cardboard dulcimers yesterday at a festival and was surprised at the quality of the sound, as well as the feel of the instrument. My only gripe with it was that it slides quite a bit on my lap. I felt it slid more than the wooden one.

Of course, if you want a high quality instrument, you know you will have to spend some money to get it. This cardboard number will not hold up in a comparison to a well-made dulcimer. But, for what it is, it is very good.

I had fun playing this instrument and feel very comfortable recommending it to a beginning dulcimer student or anyone who cannot afford to pay full price for a handmade wooden dulcimer. The quality is surprising for something made of cardboard! Not at all what I expected!

Mountain Dulcimers at eBay

Find a great deal on a mountain dulcimer on eBay!

Folkroots Mountain Dulcimer

If you are ready to make an investment in a high-quality instrument, I recommend the Folkroots Mountain Dulcimers. These are handmade in the USA and are of heirloom-quality craftsmanship. Each instrument is made individually and has a wonderful resonance.

In addition, the Folkcraft company backs their dulcimers with a lifetime guarantee.

I own one of these instruments and can attest to their high quality and rich, balanced tone.

I'm so glad you stopped by and hope you enjoyed these mountain dulcimers. Please leave a comment and let me know what you think, whether this is your first exposure to this traditional folk instrument of Appalachia or you are a dulcimer master. I would love to hear your thoughts and memories of the mountain dulcimer!

© 2011 Frischy

Dulcimer Mountain Comments and Feedback

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      Alma 2 years ago

      OOO, I have a dulcimer from the North Ga. Mts. I can't tell you how old it it back in the 70's when we lived oudtise of Atlanta. It's sadly in my closet. I never knew how to read music...I can sing along, tell when a note is off, and play a melody by ear...but beyond that...whoo!

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      Luis 2 years ago

      Great list! My thoughts on the ones I've heard -Deftones have reiamned consistent as one of my favourite bands since Around the Fur was released, and you're right they really still shouldn't be this good. There's no logic there; so many of their contemporaries from the early 2000s (Incubus, Korn) just haven't been able to continue producing good music, to my mind. Looking forward to seeing them again.Lana del Rey I can't decide whether I love or hate her. I change my mind every time I listen to this album. As a whole album it doesn't work but I kind of really dig her nonchalance and haunting voice in a way that I really hate. It's very confusing.I'm just listening to Metric at the moment for the first time. I really like their older stuff but haven't had time to give Synthetica a solid run through yet.GY!BE is one of my favourite albums of 2012 and has been on constant rotation since I first heard it. Can't wait to see them at the Perth Festival in a month or so. I only discovered them last year but it's been a good ride so far.I put off listening to Grimes for ages because I assumed it was going to be indie wank, but I actually really loved it as an album to listen to while I study which is more of a compliment than you might think. It takes a special kind of music to not annoy me while I study.Tame Impala I like this band, but I don't love them. But I keep going back, because I think it's just a matter of time until it really clicks and I start getting them. There's nothing I don't like about their sound it just doesn't scream to me to keep coming back. Hilltop Hoods nuff said. I had massive, massive expectations for this album, but in the kind of way that I really didn't want to hear it because I didn't like the lead single and was worried it would be shit. But I feel like this is such a solid, coming-of-age album. They've been to the parties and banged the bitches and taken the drugs and proven that they're better than everyone in the Australian scene, and they know it, but I think they know how lucky they are too. Also, Pressure's verse in the album opener kills me every single time. He's often been relegated to the background behind Suffa, but I felt that he really shone on this album. There you go. My $0.02 worth not that you asked for it

    • AlishaV profile image

      Alisha Vargas 4 years ago from Reno, Nevada

      Definitely a sweet and beautiful instrument!

    • CottageHomestead profile image

      CottageHomestead 5 years ago

      I love the dulcimer!

    • Marigold Tortelli profile image

      Marigold Tortelli 6 years ago

      I'm learning how to play the dulcimer. It's such a great instrument.

    • Scarlettohairy profile image

      Peggy Hazelwood 6 years ago from Desert Southwest, U.S.A.

      This is a fun lens! Nice job!

    • profile image

      jseven lm 6 years ago

      I love dulcimer music, it's a happy music, and this was a great lens explaining it and great videos!

    • Gayle Mclaughlin profile image

      Gayle 6 years ago from McLaughlin

      I have heard the dulcimer player once or twice-I believe it was at Silver Dollar City in Branson, Mo. Thanks for the chance to hear it again.

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 6 years ago from Central Florida

      It was a treat to listen music videos. I'd forgotten how much I liked this kind of music.

    • franstan lm profile image

      franstan lm 6 years ago

      Very interesting information on this unique musical instrument