HOW TO BOW YOUR MOUNTAIN DULCIMER
An Easy Way to Turn Your Mountain Dulcimer Into a Bowed Dulcimer
It's a fact: the mountain dulcimer can be played with a bow. Some century-old mountain dulcimers, now in museums, have been found to carry traces of bow rosin, a dead giveaway that, at some time in the past, they have been bowed. How effectively, is anyone's guess.
Be that as it may, here's how to bow your own mountain dulcimer: To begin with, if you have a double d string, you will have to take one of the pair out, or string your dulcimer equidistant, if that's possible. Now, you will have to raise the middle string or strings so that you can play each one separately. And since a picture is worth a thousand words...
Just a small strip of paper, spindled and placed underneath the middle string, right on top of the bridge, is all that's needed. Borrow a cheap violin bow, rosin it well and bow away!
You will notice that the voice you get may be sweet, but is rather thin and low in volume. That's because you're bowing and instrument not designed to be bowed. It lacks the proper soundbox design and, most important, it lacks a sound post. The sound post is a piece of dowel wedged inside an instrument between the top and bottom plates. That helps transfer the string vibration to the rest of the body. And that's where the bowed dulcimer enters the picture. But you already know that.
For now, you can experiment with bowing and see how simple it may be to play a bowed dulcimer.