Plucked, Straight-Sided Dulcimer

Plucked, Straight-Sided Dulcimer

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Description (Brief)

This plucked, straight-sided dulcimer has a heavy boxy shape with two of its four strings fretted. It is a crude instrument with one large soundhole roughly carved under the fretboard and the entire construction put together with nails. The maker and dates of origin are unknown, but its previous owner told collector Anne Grimes that it came from Corbin, Kentucky.

On a visit with Mrs. Grimes, members of the famous folk-singing Ritchie family, Jean and her sister Edna, suspected it may have been made by their friend Will Singleton, but scholars later said that it is doubtful that Singleton made this instrument, as “the joinery is poor, and there are no characteristics to link it with Singleton’s construction methods.” A friend and neighbor of the famous Richie family, William Singleton made literally hundreds, more than a thousand, of dulcimers in his lifetime.

Currently not on view
Object Name
place made
United States
Physical Description
wood (overall material)
overall: 16 cm x 32 cm x 107 cm; 6 5/16 in x 12 5/8 in x 42 1/8 in
overall: 6 5/8 in x 42 1/2 in x 11 1/4 in; 16.8275 cm x 107.95 cm x 28.575 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
collector/donor number
See more items in
Cultural and Community Life: Musical Instruments
Music & Musical Instruments
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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