The original home of the cimbalom was the Assyro-Persian Empire. Its first description dates back to the 9th century B.C. The instrument "kin" in use in China and Tibet is also considered as ancestor of the cimbalom. The first "kin" was mentioned in the 6th century B.C. already. The foregoer of the cimbalom is the "ganun" of Arabian origin. In Europe it appeared about the 12th century. Another foregoer is the "santur" from Persian territory about which we know from the 13th century. On basis of similar characteristics the "santur" was the foregoer of the European type of the cimbalom. From the middle of the 15th century the history of the cimbalom can be better proved by documents.
The cimbalom was supposedly spread all over Europe in the 16th century and at the end of the 17th century it bacame popular instrument of the saloons and high society.
The composers of that period wrote more and more pieces such as sonatas and concertos for cimbalom.
About 1800 the cimbalom spread entirely in Western Europe. From the middle of the 19th century there were made cimbaloms in big quantities by musical instrument factories (in America and England) under name "pantalon". In spite of the initial success the instrument did not have a long life, yet from the point of view of music history it was of a great importance bringing to life a demand for new sounds and making necessary creation of the piano mechanics because of the difficult playing manner.
After all these the cimbalom became folk instrument.
In Hungary the cimbalom appeared first in the 15th century (king Lewis II mentioned it in his court diary as Cythara played by gipsies), but in fact it spread in the 19th century only starting to become. as Hungarian national instrument. The cimbalom was still of small size, without legs, played mostly by gipsy musicians putting it on table or slinging it by strip over the shoulder and supporting it on the waist part.
From the middle of the 19th century the cimbalom took already role in musical compositions, e.g. Ferenc Erkel's Bank Ban (1861).
The spread of the cimbalom craftsmanship is connected with the name of József Vencel Schunda who founded the famous Schunda company in 1848. The cimbalom making as craftsmanship is due to him. In 1874 he created the cimbalom with pedal. Due to Schunda also the cimbalom got into the category of the instruments of higher level.
His innovations include setting the cimbalom on legs. The sample of this provided with damper system already, was made in 1874.
Schunda also systematized the tones of the cimbalom, however, this was not entirely cromatic yet.
József Vencel Schunda wanted to make popular the instrument not only in Hungary, but also worldwide. In his factory the 10000th cimbalom was made in 1884, during their operation there were produced about 30000 instruments.
Due to Schunda lots of famous master instrument makers such as Lajos Bohák, Gyula Mogyoróssy, Antal Habits, István Horváth, Ferenc Mészáros, Béla Varjú, Károly Varjú, Ármin Sternberg, János Stowasser and Mihály Reményi attained this craftsmanship.
The Bohák dynasty carried out quite a number of important innovations such as amendment of stock design and reinforcing mechanics, etc.
In the circle of the musicians the instruments of Bohák system are used to the greatest extent and are most valuable.
In the years 1950 Lajos Bohák made his excellent instruments in the workshop being operated by us even today.
As a continuation of the Bohák tradition from 1957 to 2005 István Jancsó made these instruments of high quality who is one of the best and most recognized person of this craftsmanship.
He has numerous innovations, e.g. designing and execution of the upper damper system and open bottom cimbalom.
There was a great demand for cimbalom of smaller size and thus more than 10 years ago István Jancsó made the first so-called small cimbalom on basis of his own designs that has a strong sound and excellent sound quality in spite of its small size.
Recently the student of István Jancsó, Balázs Kovács master cimbalom maker who has been working at our company since 1991 makes and repairs the cimbaloms according to old traditions to the utmost satisfaction of the musicians and non-professionals.