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Musical Traditions 8

Archive of previously sold beginner/intermediate instruments

Listed below are the Beginner/Intermediate instruments sold prior to September 2016.  This is the short catalogue listing, but links to the detailed descriptions are still live if you click on the pictures.


1.58    Early 2000s? O’Brien 4 String Hourglass – £Sold

A very handsome example from the Hagen family’s workshop in the Ozark Mountains, with a flecked quarter-sawn American plane or sycamore top and bluebird/flower soundhole design.  Some light tarnishing on the chrome tuners, otherwise excellent.

1.50 – 2006 Cedar Creek – 4 String Hourglass – £Sold

Another good condition, classic beginner/intermediate dulcimer from Cedar Creek – in fact almost identical to 1.46 below.  An interesting, figured solid cherry top and maple (laminated) body with a good action and decent sound.  I’m leaving it up to you whether you want me to remove the little fret number stickers or keep them on!

1.48 – 1991 (?)  Heatherwood 4 String, 3 Course Hourglass – £Sold

Dulcimer very much in the mould of the Cripple Creek, built by two ex-employees of that company.  Well made from solid woods, with a big walnut body and cedar (?) top and nice bluebird-and-vines soundhole design.  Slightly better than average beginner/intermediate instrument.

1.46 – 2007  Cedar Creek 4 String Hourglass – £Sold

Fairly standard, but nicely made hourglass from the Hagen Family concern that also make O’Brien dulcimers in the US and the Red Kite in the UK.  Solid cherry top, with attractive figure, and classic hummingbird-and-vine soundhole design.  Near pristine condition, sounds good and plays easily.

1.43  Walnut Valley 4 String Teardrop Dulcimer – 1989  #089-18 – £Sold

Less expensive model in the good quality range produced by the Walnut Valley Dulcimer Company, Burns, Kansas.  The instruments are always well made, play easily and have a decent sound.  This one is in excellent condition and has the added bonus of white numbers against each fret, courtesy of a previous owner with neat handwriting (can be removed if required!).

1.41 and 1.45  1970s?  Musical Traditions – 4 String 3 Course – £Sold

Quite large numbers of these smallish, neat dulcimers were produced in the 70s and early 80s – deservedly popular because they were easy to handle and well-made out of solid wood.  Both are made from walnut with a close-grained spruce and cedar top respectively.  These are straightforward instruments with a narrow fretboard, but excellent sound and intonation.  A great place to start – and both have a strap for your waist to hold the dulcimer firmly in place!  Pics of 1.45 to follow.

2.47 – Early 70s – Capritaurus – 4 String Hourglass – £Sold

Another neat, larger dulcimer made by Capritaurus, Felton, California, sometime between 1969 and 1973.  The body design became the well-loved Folk Roots D50 model.  Basic headstock, but unusual and rather charming mushroom shaped soundhole design – perhaps a west coast in-joke?!  Easy playing with good intonation and nice sound.  Suitable for beginners or intermediate players.

2.65  1977 Westminster – 4 String Hourglass – £Sold

Not quite sure why I’ve classified this as a beginner/intermediate instrument because it’s a serious dulcimer.  But I suppose it’s just a bit, well…scruffy.  Made from lovely birdseye maple and spruce by a known maker – I’ve got one myself – it has been well loved by a previous owner who has played it hard.  So, cosmetically it leaves a little to be desired, but it sounds good and plays easily.  Just note that smaller hands might struggle with the scale length.

1.39 – Early 1980s?  Anonymous French Dulcimer – 4 String Hourglass – £Sold

This has no label and seems to be a one-off – but a rather attractive one.  Boasting a shapely design, the sides, scroll, pegbox and fingerboard are made from some kind of striking exotic wood.  Easy action, even if the fingerboard is a little narrower than ideal.  A decent sound with a good balance and pretty good intonation, make this an obvious contender for a first dulcimer.

1.38 – 2010  O’Brien – 4 String Hourglass – £Sold

This is a quality modern instrument from a family concern in the Ozark Mountains, Missouri. Their small workshop produces good-looking, decent-sounding, solid wood dulcimers under a variety of brand names, including Cedar Creek and O’Brien in the US, and Red Kite over here in the UK. This walnut dulcimer with attractive hummingbird soundhole design is as-new, save a small nick on the scroll. It has its original soft case.

1.37 – 1988  Folkcraft FSHW – 4 String Hourglass – £Sold

Model FSHW #460 made by Folkcraft Instruments, Winsted, Connecticut. Popular model from one of the biggest makers in the US. Features solid walnut top, back and sides with heart soundholes and open, guitar-style tuners. Has some presence, with a good response across and up the fretboard.  This one punches above its weight – satisfying for both beginner and more experienced player.

1.36 – 2000s? Folkcraft Solid Cherry Kit – 4 String Hourglass – £Sold

An interesting find – a pretty, traditional hourglass-shaped instrument from one of the leading craft dulcimer makers in the US, Folkcraft.  This is their kit instrument, solid wood but a little narrower and deeper than their standard entry/intermediate dulcimer.  It was well put together but unfinished, literally.  I’ve had to put two coats of hand-rubbed finish on what was essentially bare wood – which has revealed the lovely warm red of the cherry and redwood body.  Looks good now and plays well.

1.35 – 2003 Cedar Creek – 4 String Hourglass – £Sold

This is a quality modern instrument from a family concern in the Ozark Mountains, Missouri.  Their small workshop produces good-looking, decent-sounding, solid wood dulcimers under a variety of brand names, including Cedar Creek and O’Brien in the US, and Red Kite over here in the UK.  The dulcimer is now in excellent playing condition, following the repair of two short, non-structural cracks.  The price reflects this – a bargain for beginner or improving players.

1.34 – 1990s? Folkcraft Solid Walnut Kit – 4 String Teardrop – £Sold

A simple but attractive all solid wood entry instrument. This is a design from one of the leading US craft dulcimer makers, Folkcraft, and sold in the form of a kit.  Has a traditional sweet dulcimer sound from the solid walnut construction that rather belies its origins.  A very decent entry level instrument.

1.32  2003 Johnie Nicholson/Unicorn Woodworks  £Sold inc. custom wooden case

A well made, solid dulcimer from a little-known maker, originally from California and now Idaho.  Despite his lack of renown, Johnie Nicholson has sold over 3000 of these very decent dulcimers, mainly through craft fairs.  They look good, have excellent intonation and  action, and sound just fine.  Well worth a try.

1.30   Folkcraft Teardrop – 4 String Hourglass – £Sold

Well crafted and affordable, these are a really good starter instrument – but without the usual compromises.  For further details and pictures of similar models, previously sold, see 1.10 and 1.14 below.

1.29 – 90s Cripple Creek with Vine and Butterfly Top – 4 String Hourglass – £Sold

Well known brand name dulcimer with solid pine top and birch sides/back.  Surprisingly good sound, easy action, with attractive top design.  Great value…what’s not to like?!

1.26 – 1980? – Musical Traditions Hourglass – 4 String – £Sold

Label inside says “Musical Traditions Fine Handmade Instruments Serial No. JW 80 # 625”.  It has a distinctive, N Carolina/W Virginian (reverse sloping shoulder) hourglass shape.  Nice looking, well-made, solid cherry dulcimer with elegant, narrow shape.  Easy action on chubby frets, reliable intonation and bright, silvery tone with some depth makes it suitable for all abilities – and ideal for finger-style playing.

1.24 – Early 1980s – Camac Hourglass – 4 String – £Sold

Back again, as part of an upgrade/part exchange, but now with a nice homemade solid case included.  This is a European dulcimer, made by Societé Camac, a small firm based near Nantes in Brittany.  I believe they were better known for harps, but the current Camac Harps appear to be a different firm.  It was created to catch the vogue for dulcimer playing in the mid/late 70s and is plain, economical, but well enough made.  It also sounds as clear as a bell.  With its short scale, wide fingerboard and straightforward action it is ideal for beginners.  N.B.  I’ve now added a 6+ fret, even though the (early) photo doesn’t show it.

1.23 – 1987 – Frazier Hourglass – 4 String – £Sold

This is a traditional style instrument in many respects, but nicely made from good quality materials.  It has an attractive quilted maple top and birdseye maple sides and fingerboard.  Attractive, light sound and easy action make it suitable for beginners, but the neat, effective rosewood friction pegs do require a little more physical effort than mechanical tuners.

1.22 – Early 1970s – Musical Traditions 4 String Hourglass – £Sold

See 1.26 below.  One of the very first Musical Traditions dulcimers, presumably built at the original workshop in New York.  A simple instrument with an attractive traditional shape.  Made of solid cherry throughout, giving it a warm colour and a pleasant, tight sound.  Very low action and narrow fingerboard make it ideal for fingerstyle playing and for those starting out.

1.21  1988 Johnie Nicholson 4 String Teardrop  £Sold inc. wooden case

Unusual dulcimer from a little-known but reliable maker, Johnie Nicholson.  He’s sold over 3000 dulcimers through the craft fair circuit, mainly in his native California and now around his recent base of Boise, Idaho.   They are well made from solid woods, albeit clearly to a budget, and they are an excellent place to start exploring the dulcimer.

1.20 – Early 70s – Capritaurus Hourglass – 4 String – £Sold

This large and classically proportioned dulcimer was made by Capritaurus, Felton, California, sometime between 1969 and 1973.  This design became the well-loved Folk Roots D50 model.  Good for various styles of playing at different levels of sophistication – loud and proud!

2.48 & 2.79   Dulcimer Works – 3 String and 4 String Hourglass – £Sold and £Sold

Two examples of an early high-end dulcimer from California. These are both Model Ws – all solid walnut bodies with a solid spruce top – producing a forward, balanced sound ideal for fingerpicking or light plectrum styles.  The less expensive one has needed major cosmetic surgery: the more expensive is in excellent condition. Customers really seem to like these – and I can see why.

2.60 – 90s McSpadden “Sweet Song” – 4 String Hourglass – £Sold

Well known brand name dulcimer in a more affordable form.  A neat walnut dulcimer, made from one of McSpadden’s excellent quality kits, probably 15 – 20 years ago.  Has a slightly smaller body than the standard McSpadden, but spot-on intonation, plenty of tone and power, and looks good.  As you might expect, a few small glue lines on the joints, but it’s solid and ready to go.  One for starters and experienced players alike.

1.15 – Early 80s? – Anonymous Hourglass – 5 String – £Sold

Well made from good materials, this is an anonymous 5 string solid wood dulcimer, currently set up for three courses – twin melody, twin middle.  It comes from a good craftsman, but possibly not a full-time instrument builder.  Sold from, and probably made in, Ohio.  Suitable for beginners, with a sound action and decent tone

1.14 – 1990s? – Folkcraft Teardrop – 4 String – £Sold

Entry/intermediate model made for Pigeon Forge Instruments, Tennessee by Folkcraft, one of the biggest craft makers in the US.  Well made with an easy action and decent sound.  Still in good condition, with attractive walnut grain

1.11 – March 1980 – Magic Mountain Model 5110 – 4 String – £Sold

Magic Mountain dulcimer #0380 marked “Handcrafted by J C Shellnutt and Company” and made at his San Rafael, California, shop – just before he sold the business to Saga Music.  This is a good quality instrument with a great sound, from one of the early west coast pioneers, suitable for beginners (with a good reach), but also sophisticated enough for a fast-developing player.