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The cittern is a pear-shaped instrument with 10 paired strings, or five courses. A member of the mandolin family; it is also related to the bouzouki, and is a distant relative of the guitar. (Both words come from the Middle English giterne, from French cithare, from Latin cithara, from Greek kitara.) No relation to the sitar, the Indian instrument that Ravi Shankar and George Harrison play. There are several tunings for citterns. They have a deep, mellow sound something like a cross between a 12-string guitar and a cello. In recent years it has become popular with Irish musicians.
 The instrument pictured was built by luthier W. A. Petersen of Omaha; it is a Grade 2 with a 22.5 inch scale, Brazilian rosewood back and sides, and a Sitka spruce top. The musician is Scott Ross of The Flatland Ramblers.
© Info / image copyright 2002 Scott Ross