Appalachian or mountain dulcimers are traditional fretted instruments from the zither family. The Appalachian dulcimer consists of a narrow fretboard attached to an hourglass-shaped or teardrop-shaped sound box with three or four strings.
The Appalachian dulcimer originated in the eastern United States, and a variety of folk music played today still features Appalachian dulcimers. Unlike a guitar or piano, an Appalachian dulcimer is a modal instrument; it is played on an open tuning that does not play every note. This is why it is necessary to retune a dulcimer to play different scales. The word "dulcimer" originates from the Latin word "sweet" and the Greek word for "melody."