Transitional Scheitholt to Dulcimer



Transitional Scheitholt to Dulcimer


David Schnaufer purchased this instrument from Terry Lewis of Kentucky, who in turn had obtained it from a woman in Kentucky in the 1970s. Schnaufer had placed a tag on the instrument with the following note: "Schnaufer/1820?/Trans/Indiana/Terry Lewis."

In "A Little Dulcimer History" (Grand Old Dulcimer Club Gazette, Volume 7, No. 5, July-August 2005), Schnaufer described this instrument as "an early three-string dulcimer that is basically a scheitholt body with a raised fingerboard running down the center. Pickwear indicates it was played in a rapid back-and-forth motion, possibly with a turkey quill for a plectrum. Other than the fact that the ends are tapered, it retains the classic tailpiece and flat headstock with pin tuners that are characteristic of the old German zithers. The hole in the fingerboard reveals that it is hollow so both examples [referring to DS-20] feature a box sitting on a box. This hollow fingerboard is a characteristic of most historic dulcimers and is also common in dulcimers built today. One feature common to both examples is the small feet on the back to raise the instrument off the surface of a table to increase the volume."





Dulcimer type



Tennessee State Museum, Nashville, Tennessee

Cataloged by

S. Conatser, Z. Law


32 3/4" x 5" x 2 3/8"

Physical description

poplar, metal; modified teardrop shape; each side appears to be a single piece of wood bent in the lower bout to create a slight angle instead of the smooth curve of a teardrop; back a single piece of wood; headstock and tailpiece nailed to the back; additional pieces of wood nailed to back possibly serving as feet; headstock a simple upturned scroll; 3 tuning pins are zither pins; ; fretbaord hollow; two round sound holes; 15 frets under two of the three strings; nut and bridge of bent wire; instrument in good condition with wear at the edges


“Transitional Scheitholt to Dulcimer,” Appalachian Dulcimer Archive, accessed May 22, 2024,