- David J. Kyger
Musical string instrument. The fretted zither is a resonating body with strings extending across the width of the instrument. A modern zither has five fretboard strings and up to 37 open strings. It is placed on a flat surface with the player seated behind the instrument. Frets are set into the fretboard, indicating where the fingers of the left hand need to stop the strings in order to play melodies. A ring with a projecting thorn is placed on the tip of the right-hand thumb to strike the fretboard strings, while the remaining fingers act upon the open strings for the accompaniment.
The zither was widely introduced to the American public by Joseph Hauser of the Hauser Family, a group of Tyrolean singers, in the late 1840s. Numerous songs performed by the family were published by Oliver Ditson in Boston. Sheet music selections published by the company feature a lithograph of the performers, with Joseph Hauser holding a zither....