The Waldzither – A cittern

The Waldzither is an instrument that is mainly known in the north of Germany. The Waldzither belogs to the family of citterns, which includes the Swiss Halszither, as well as the Portuguese guitar used in the Fado music of Portugal. Citterns are also used in the folk music of England and Ireland.

The Waldzither has 9 strings, the lowest string is a single string, the other strings are double like the strings of a mandolin.

The Waldzither is very good for accompanying songs. The Waldzither uses open tunings, and who knows to play the guitar can quickly learn to play the Waldzither as well.

Most famous are the Waldzithers by the Böhm factory from Hamburg. Those can be recognized by the special tuning machines which are tuned with a special tuning key. Such tuning machines are also used for the Portuguese guitar until today.

A lot of information with chord charts and some sheet music can be found on the German site There you can find informations about the different tunings that are used for the Waldzither and also some pieces for the different tunings.

The following video shows a typical Böhmzither.

Waldzither, Achterum (norddeutscher Dorftanz), vorweg etwas “präludiert” (Impr.)

The German company Folkfriends now offers a Hamburg Waldzither similar to the Böhmzither produced almost 100 years ago. This instrument is demonstrated in the following video.

Finally my own video using a Waldzither from Thüringen (Thüringer Waldzither). This instrument has a slotted head like a guitar. I have stringed and tuned this instrument like a mandola with four double strings tuned in fifths. This instrument has the typical glass bridge that is often used for Waldzither instruments. I like the open and very bright sound with a lot of sustain of the Waldzither.

Playlist Waldzither

A list of important links about the Waldzither: Linkliste Waldzither

The Waldzither Chord Bible: CGCEG Standard C Tuning (Fretted Friends) (Amazon partnerlink)

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