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The Dulcimer Factory

Another dulcimer with a family resemblance to the Cripple Creek, presumably as a consequence of John and Shirley Naylor learning to make dulcimers from Bud and Donna Ford.  When they moved from Colorado to San Antonio, TX in 1986 the Naylors established the Dulcimer Factory concern. The following year they moved to Fredericksburg, TX and expanded operations. By the early 1990s, their mountain dulcimer production was the largest of any maker in the world and they employed 20 workers. More DF dulcimers were produced in those years than McSpaddens or Folkcrafts. The business was sold to Randy Thompson of Hill Country Dulcimers in 1998, but Dulcimer Factory branded instruments continued under the new ownership, overseen by the Naylors. There is some suggestion that quality control suffered during this period. John Naylor, with health problems, ceased mass production in 2003 and, still owning the name, has made only a handful of custom dulcimers since. At this stage, the Dulcimer Factory had produced over 30,000 mountain dulcimers, over 1,000 hammered dulcimers, bowed psaltries, plucked psaltries – as well as unnumbered kits of all of these instruments.

1.59 – 1991 Dulcimer Factory DF6 “Deluxe Artist” 4 String Hourglass – £345 no case

Paper label between LB soundholes: “The Dulcimer Factory/ 7165 Washington, Fredericksburg, TX [zip code]/ John and Shirley Naylor/ [h/w] 91 – 7896  DF6 [?]”.

This is a good-looking all-cherry hourglass, bookmatched on the top and back and showing an interesting figure with some black spalting.  It has attractive flower and leaf motif soundholes, which are carefully reinforced underneath.  It is a biggish instrument, robustly built with a ladder-braced back and some lighter bracing on the top.  The fingerboard is routed (hollow) and interestingly is made of a multi-coloured wood sandwich.  It also has twin black buttons on the tail, acting as string anchors.  These two features – the multi-wood fretboard and the guitar style end pins – identify it as a top-of- the –range “Deluxe Artist” model ($225 in 1991).  It has a hooked “scroll” (slightly more elegant than the Cedar Creek version), a routed pegbox and open-geared chrome tuners.  The fingerboard has fret markers at 3, 7 and 10; there is a 6+ but no corresponding 13+ fret.  The nut and bridge are made from a hard composite material. Overall length 35”, upper bout 6”, lower bout 7½”, depth 2¼”, FBW 1⅝”, VSL 27¾” (medium scale), weight 2lb 5oz (1038g).  6+ but not 13+ frets.  Strings now 0.011/0.011, 0.014, 0.023w.

This is a good-sounding instrument, slightly quieter, but clearer and more subtle than the similar big-bodied Cedar Creeks/Red Kites – the latter seem slightly muddy by comparison.  Better built too, with good action and intonation.  Unusually, responds right to the top of the fingerboard.  A good intermediate instrument on a par with the standard McSpaddens or Folkcrafts.  In great condition, with only a few pressure marks and light scuffs.

NB  The photo shows the dulcimer with neat stickers identifying the fret numbers.  I intend to leave them on because someone might find them useful and they can easily be removed without damage.  However, if you want them taken off before sale, at no cost, then I can do so.

Click on images below to enlarge.