fortytwo wrote:Check the thread just above this one by banjimer: Traditional Music Treasures from the Past; second post about "lonesome tunes"
"HOW TO PLAY THE DULCIMORE
At rare intervals in our search we encountered a fiddle, old, used to service and evidently a member of the family, with all the distinguishing traits of rough appearance and dependable quality. More frequently we found the "dulcimore," which is the real indigenous Appalachian instrument. It is made in the mountains and fits its environment in quite a charming and piquant way. It seems most thoroughly a part of the spirit of the culture represented by the old songs! In shape it is most like a "pochette," the little instrument carried by dancing-masters in the olden days, although very much larger of course. It is strung with three strings, either gut or wire. Two of these are tuned in unison while the third is tuned a fifth below. The outer one of the two in unison is the only frettled string, the other two supplying a drone bass, giving somewhat the effect of the bagpipe. The dulcimore (accent on the last syllable) is held on the knees and the strings are plucked with a piece of leather or a quill. The melody is played upon the fretted string, for which purpose a quill or small stick is employed. We found that the dulcimore players were very particular as to the media employed, and that the adherents of the different schools, divided by the use of quill or leather, were distinctly temperamental in their allegiance! "
It would seem that in 1917 "dulcimores" with gut strings existed in the Appalachian Mountains.
Yes this excerpt was already mentioned earlier in this thread- but it seems to be the ONLY mention that anyone knows of concerning gut strings. According to Ralph Lee Smith, who has examined probably hundreds of very old dulcimers, many from the 1800's, he has never seen an Appalachian dulcimer with gut strings or remnants of gut strings. I'd be more inclined to rely on Ralph's vast observations than to make a rather large assumption based on a single fleeting mention within a description obviously written by someone with limited familiarity with the instrument.