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Early Belgian Dulcimer (or Hackbrett) from the Hans Adler collection

The word dulcimer refers to two families of musical string instruments.

Hammered dulcimers[edit]

The word dulcimer originally referred to a trapezoidal zither similar to a psaltery whose many strings are struck by handheld "hammers".[1] Variants of this instrument are found in many cultures, including:

Appalachian dulcimer and derivatives[edit]

In the Appalachian region of the U.S. in the nineteenth century, hammered dulcimers were rare. There, the word dulcimer, which was familiar from the King James Version of the Bible, was used to refer to a three or four stringed fretted instrument, generally played on the lap by strumming.

Variants include:


  1. ^ "The Hammered Dulcimer". Smithsonian Institution. Retrieved February 28, 2022.