The Appalachian dulcimer, like many things associated with country music, often gets a bad rap: in its specific instance, written off as a hillbilly zither built to be strummed by folk whose superfluity of fingers and/or absence of thumbs makes plucking a banjo forbiddingly di cult. This, like most dismissals of country music, is ill-informed. From the Appalachian dulcimer, a skilled player can wring both the sparkle of the guitar and the melancholy of the pedal steel. (Check out the great dulcimer player David Schnaufer accompanying Emmylou Harris on Hank Williams’ ‘May You Never Be Alone’ for proof.)
Californian company Wolfum offer a range of beautiful dulcimers for around $300 a go. Pleasant though they are to look at, it would be an outrage to leave them to languish as mere ornaments.