A Fretted String instrument, related to the Zither. Also called the lap or mountain dulcimer and a uniquely American contribution to folk instruments. It has a particular waisted, hourglass shape although some are eliptical.
Three to six double Courses with a melody string and Drone strings. The instrument is fundamentally Diatonic in that it has only the Frets to produce the Major Scale.
Modern instruments are generally 'six-and-a-half' fret with an extra fret between the sixth and seventh allowing other scales and accidentals to be played.
It is played by Strumming or Finger Picking while fretting the top strings (or playing them open). The bottom string or strings are played as Drones.
Pictured: Early Music Shop Appalachian Dulcimer.
A wide range of tunings are adopted. Some tunings for popular three course instruments to play in different scales are: