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Dulcimer The dulcimer is one of the few original American musical instruments. It's ancestor, the scheithlot, was found in the late 1700's in Pennsylvania. The Appalachian people changed this instrument and came up with the dulcimer in the 1800's. The word dulcimer means "sweet song", and that describes it well. The Appalachian dulcimer is shaped like an hourglass, or like a woman, as many say. In those days women playing a stringed instrument were not allowed to stand in front of the men.