Single-Bouted Plucked Dulcimer

Single-Bouted Plucked Dulcimer

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Description (Brief)

This single-bouted, plucked dulcimer is thought to be from eastern Tennessee, but its truncated soundbox is reminiscent of North Carolina dulcimers. Scratched on to the dulcimer is the date "Oct. 20, 1899" which may have been done by either an unknown maker or owner. All of this instruments’ three strings may be fretted on fourteen frets. It has a downward sloping tuning head without a scroll, and two very large crudely carved soundholes. The instrument’s rough construction and hollow fingerboard suggest that it is a rural copy.

Collector Anne Grimes said on November 14, 1974, “This is from Churchill, Tennessee, and I suppose that must be what I put down as Breedlove dulcimer.” William Breedlove was popularly known as the musician “Unaka Bill” and collected instruments in the areas of eastern Tennessee and western Virginia to sell to antique dealers and collectors of musical instruments.

There is an index card taped to the back with typed text that reads, "C 6 single bout Smith D 45 p. 68 [/] 3 of 3 strings fretted on 14 frets [/] painted black, dated Oct. 20, 1899, rough construction, [/] hollow fingee board, without cut belly, deep sound box and [/] downward sloping tuning heas without a scroll. Collected [/] eastern Tenn."

Currently not on view
Object Name
place made
United States
Physical Description
wood (overall material)
overall: 10.5 cm x 17.5 cm x 81 cm; 4 1/8 in x 6 7/8 in x 31 7/8 in
overall: 4 1/2 in x 6 7/8 in x 31 1/2 in; 11.43 cm x 17.4625 cm x 80.01 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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