W. C. Singleton Single-Bouted Plucked Dulcimer

W. C. Singleton Single-Bouted Plucked Dulcimer

<< >>
Usage conditions apply
Description (Brief)

This single-bouted, plucked dulcimer was made by W. C. Singleton of Viper, Kentucky, aged 79 years, on August 2, 1939. One of its four strings is fretted on 16 frets, and it has two round soundholes in its hollow fretboard and four similar ones on each end of the soundboard, with two heart-shaped holes in the center of the soundboard on each side of the fretboard.

File #6 entitled “Singleton Dulcimer” in Collector Anne Grimes’s reference materials contains a picture of “Uncle” Will Singleton, holding what is presumably one of his dulcimers, in what appears to be a clipping of an article about dulcimers in an unidentified publication. A friend and neighbor of the famous folksong singing Richie family, William Singleton made literally hundreds, more than a thousand, of dulcimers in his lifetime.

There is an index card taped to the back of the dulcimer with typed text that reads, "C 7 single bout Smith D 60 p. 75 [/] 1 of 4 strings fretted on 16 frets, hearts turned up to xx [/] possibly played held up with pegs down [/] label inside right sound hole says "Viper, KY, W. C. Singleton [/] No. of dulcimer 83/August 2, 1939, my age 79 years" [/] Contributed to the Anne Grimes collection by the New York [/] Public Library 1952 [/] Singleton was a friend and neighbor of the famous Ritchie [/] family, traditional dulcimer players and singers who also [/] told Mrs. Grimes that "Will Singleton sometimes made large [/] box type dulcimers known inOhio as "scantlin's" (also [/] included in Grimes collection)."

Currently not on view
Object Name
date made
Singleton, W. C.
Physical Description
wood (overall material)
overall: 8 cm x 16 cm x 88 cm; 3 1/8 in x 6 5/16 in x 34 5/8 in
overall: 2 7/8 in x 6 1/4 in x 34 3/4 in; 7.3025 cm x 15.875 cm x 88.265 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
Nominate this object for photography.   

Our collection database is a work in progress. We may update this record based on further research and review. Learn more about our approach to sharing our collection online.

If you would like to know how you can use content on this page, see the Smithsonian's Terms of Use. If you need to request an image for publication or other use, please visit Rights and Reproductions.


Add a comment about this object