The Mountain Dulcimer, also known and the Appalachian or Fretted Dulcimer, is a true folk instrument. A type of zither, the mountain dulcimer has a fretboard that runs the entire length of the soundboard. As I write this, I've had my dulcimer for less than five months, and I've found that with daily practice it's easy to learn to play. My love for Celtic music, and my desire to explore my own heritage of Finnish music, makes this the perfect instrument for me right now. Pictured here is my own darling Mary Ann, made entirely from Northern Cherry by Folkcraft Instruments. She is becoming a very dear friend, and I'm looking forward to where I am with her musically after a long Minnesota winter.

A little history from Wikipedia:
Although the Appalachian dulcimer first appeared in the early 19th century among Scots-Irish immigrant communities in the southern Appalachian Mountains, the instrument has no known precedent in Ireland or Scotland. However, several diatonic fretted zithers exist in Continental Europe that have a strong similarity to the dulcimer. Jean Ritchie and others[citation needed] have speculated the Appalachian dulcimer is related to similar European instruments like the langeleik, scheitholt and épinette des Vosges.

Few true specimens of the mountain dulcimer exist from earlier than about 1880, when J. Edward Thomas of Knott County, Ky began building and selling them. The instrument became used as something of a parlor instrument, as its modest sound volume is best-suited to small home gatherings. But for the first half of the 20th century the mountain dulcimer was rare, with a handful of makers supplying players in scattered pockets of Appalachia. Virtually no audio recordings of the instrument exist from earlier than the late 1930s.

The Appalachian dulcimer achieved a renaissance in the 1950s urban folk music revival in the United States through the work of Jean Ritchie, a Kentucky musician who introduced the instrument to New York City audiences. Meanwhile, the American folk musician Richard Fariña (1937–1966) was also bringing the Appalachian dulcimer to a much wider audience, and by 1965 the instrument was a familiar presence in folk music circles.

One of the most acclaimed folk album's of all time "Blue" by Joni Mitchell also features four original songs written and played on the Mountain Dulcumer. I told you it was a folk music instrument, it's also uniquely American. While playing techniques very, you can play the melody on just one string and strum the others to create a drone, which reflects the Scots-Irish heritage of the instrument. This, of course, makes it perfect for Celtic music as well. It is the Drone in the title of my blog, Strum Pluck & Drone.

Short and sweet, that's a little basic info on the mountain dulcimer.