Dulcimers For Intermediate/Advanced Players
Note on jargon: VSL = Vibrating String Length, i.e. the scale length of the dulcimer. Longer scale lengths often give better tone, but playing is a little more difficult because the string tension is higher and fingers have to stretch further. There is no accepted standard length, but 27½“ is about the middle of the range – which varies from 25″ to over 30″. FBW = Fingerboard width. Standard modern fingerboard width is around 1½”, which is ideal for chording and fingerstyle playing. Earlier instruments, particularly those intended for noter/drone playing (i.e. on the melody string only), can be much narrower. The 6½ or 6+ fret is standard on modern dulcimers, which are usually tuned DAD and need the added fret to complete the D major scale. Older instruments were more commonly tuned to DAA, where the D major scale starts on the third fret and does not require the extra fret.
4.17 NEW Ron Ewing Dulcimer – 4 String Teardrop – £625 inc. custom padded case
Brand new custom-ordered teardrop with beautiful lacewood top and ebony fingerboard. A high-end dulcimer from Ohio master craftsman Ron Ewing. Ron has been building superb and distinctive instruments for over 40 years. This has an iridescent lacewood top, a walnut bookmatched body and quality chrome hardware, complete with well-padded soft case. It plays beautifully, with Ron’s trademark clarity of tone and clear note separation.
NEW Folkcraft dulcimers:
Folkcraft are one of the two big names in quality craft-made US dulcimers. They now make, to exacting standards, both the well-loved Folkcraft range of FSH, CSH and Custom dulcimers, but also the former west coast FolkRoots big-bodied dulcimers. They make dulcimers with selected all-solid woods in a variety of scale lengths and have a wide range of imaginative soundhole designs. If you want to order an instrument to suit your exact needs, get in touch. Details of in-stock models are given below and on the detailed description page, but can also be found on the Folkcraft website here.
4.18 – NEW Folkcraft FSH Series Dulcimer – 4 String Hourglass – £495 inc. carrying bag
The classic Folkcraft shape with a mid-tan northern cherry body and elegant heart-in-sun soundholes. Easy action, good full sound and the expected Folkcraft quality of build. This has the shorter 27″ scale length.
4.06 – 2015 FolkRoots D Series Dulcimer – 4 String Hourglass – £Sold
Large-bodied classic with a lovely figured cherry body and classy Engelmann spruce top, new Sun, Moon and Stars soundhole design and a bright, forward sound with the expected Folkcraft easy action. This example has the intermediate 28″ scale length.
4.09 – 2015 Folkcraft CSH Series Dulcimer – 4 String Hourglass – £Sold
The semi-custom series with exotic wood fingerboard overlay and tail cap. A classic walnut body with western red cedar top, heart soundholes and purpleheart trim. Good looks, excellent feel and a sweet mellow tone. Shorter 27″ scale.
4.10 – 2015 Folkcraft FSH Series Dulcimer – 4 String Hourglass – £Sold
Stunning all-mahogany dulcimer with Hearts and Vines soundhole design, arched fingerboard, chrome strap buttons and elephant trunk headstock. Crisper sound than CSH model above, but the same excellent intonation. Also with the shorter 27″ scale.
4.03 Mahogany/Cedar D Series Folk Roots with Leaf/Heart tone holes, 27″ scale length – £Sold inc. soft case
4.02 Hickory FSH Series Folkcraft with Celtic Shield tone holes, 27″ scale length – £Sold
2.142 – 1989 Fellenbaum – 4 String Hourglass – £370 + £20 shell case On Hold until 30/09/17
A rare teardrop from the N Carolina workshops of master luthier Tom Fellenbaum. Tom makes beautifully-crafted dulcimers from carefully selected woods and they are always accurate, easy-playing, clear-sounding instruments.
2.141 – Clemmer Banjammer (banjo dulcimer) – 3 or 4 String Hourglass – £Sold
An intriguing oddity, one which is increasingly popular in the U.S. It’s a hybrid between a dulcimer shape, string layout and playing position, with a banjo tone ring and head. ….And it works remarkably well, sounding like an old time banjo and playable in conventional finger- or picking-style, or frailing/clawhammer style. Mike Clemmer is a good dulcimer maker and he’s clearly thought carefully about these intriguing hybrids.
2.139 2003 McSpadden FH12CR 4 String 3 Course Hourglass – £350 + £15 original padded soft case
A modern cherry-bodied hourglass with redwood top and typical McSpadden quality of build and sound. NB pics are of actual dulcimer but before preparation. Books are not included.
2.138 2006 Folk Roots D550 4 String 3 Course Hourglass – £340 + £20 shell case
Handsome all-solid walnut D series dulcimer from the Folkcraft concern, made just before they moved to their current workshop in Indiana. Nice grain on the back and an extra bonus – a small pickup on the face with tone and volume controls.
2.137 1997 McSpadden FM12W #35905 4 String 3 Course Hourglass – £375 + £15 padded soft case
Solid walnut top and sides, the former bookmatched, with a nice gradation of colour as the board moves into the sapwood at its edges. The M12-W was always well-crafted and formerly McSpadden’s top selling model, but the colouring of this one raises it above the crowd.
2.136 1990 McSpadden FM-12W Special #22366 4 String 3 Course Hourglass – £395
The Specials were made in limited numbers, usually to order. When the standard McSpadden had a laminated back, these were all solid wood (fully bookmatched) with hand-bent sides, costing more than 40% extra. This has what appear to be carefully-chosen woods, with a straight-grained, bookmatched solid walnut top and rippled bookmatched walnut back, with centre purfling. A good looking – and sounding – dulcimer.
2.135 1999 McSpadden FM12CS #38852 4 String 3 Course Hourglass – £350
An unusual wood combination of cherry body and tight-grained solid spruce top. Gives a lively character to the sound which I find very attractive. Light wear only.
2.133 & 2.134 Richard & Denise Wilson/ Diamond Designs 4 String 3 Course Hourglass #3932 & #3973 – £325 each
Two lovely late examples of the partnership between luthier Richard and artist Denise. I loved the sound and playability of my earlier Wilsons, but these are both more practical – with geared not wooden tuners – and arguably even more beautiful. The inlay designs are exquisite. 2.133 has a walnut body with, I suspect, a butternut top: 2.134 is all cherry.
2.132 2006 McSpadden 4FHWW #50502 4 String Hourglass – £395 inc. original padded case
One of the first of the new all-solid wood McSpadden range in the Jim Woods era. Lovely all walnut body with a soft and sweet sound. Almost unused, this is only a few small nicks away from pristine.
2.131 1977 Scott Antes 4 String Teardrop #1043 – £350 + choice of cases at extra cost
An interesting dulcimer from a famous name. Antes drew up plans for dulcimer building which are still used to this day. This is an attractive ginger cherry colour with interesting grain on the bookmatched back. A crack to fix in the side and, if you want, some friction tuners to replace with geared (at extra cost).
2.130 2008 McSpadden 4FHCC #52770 4 String Hourglass – £Sold
A modern McSpadden with all the build quality and sound you’d expect, but at a fraction of the new price. An all cherry dulcimer In excellent condition, with a forward but balanced sound.
2.123 2014 Sweet Woods 4 String 3 Course Teardrop £Sold
A neat solid-wood handcrafted teardrop from well-known US maker David (Harpmaker) Lynch. He makes decent affordable instruments without compromising on quality. This is no exception. Comes complete with soft carrying case.
2.122 Walnut Valley “Smoky River” 4 String Hourglass £Sold
Another very attractive and well constructed solid walnut hourglass from David Brunner, perhaps one of the last made by the company. Uses good quality components and has a full, open sound.
2.120 – 1999 Folkcraft CF200 custom maple/cedar hourglass £Sold inc Blue Heron case
An immaculate and very classy high end Folkcraft. Looks so handsome with its curly maple body and tight-grained cedar top. Sounds pretty good too….
2.118 – 2015 Arthur Robb Hourglass – £Sold
There are very few top class British dulcimer makers, but Arthur Robb of Malmesbury is definitely one of them. This is a recent model but follows a well-tried route – wide, shallow walnut body with a spruce top. Untouched, immaculate, very sweet sounding – and complete with an internal pickup.
2.117 – McSpadden M12-W #14,589 – £320 + £25 original shell case
A very tidy example of McSpadden’s classic walnut hourglass design, with the more desirable scroll head. Sounds great, like many of the early McSpaddens.
2.115 – Hanson Teardrop – £475 inc. slip case
This is a really pretty, original and good-sounding dulcimer from a low volume maker who basically likes to please himself rather than churn out identikit instruments. It has an attractive traditional look but a very modern feel and sound.
2.114 McSpadden M12-S 1989 #19,977 £Sold + £25 original shell case
Another instrument from the illustrious McSpadden stable. Has the neat old-fashioned scroll and walnut back/sides of tradition, but a solid spruce top to give it a little more drive. I particularly like these spruce topped McSpaddens, but they have a different sound to the mellow, all-walnut instrument which many regard as the quintessential dulcimer. Give it a try and don’t be hidebound!
2.112 – 1993 Blue Lion IIRS Hourglass #1927 – £Sold inc. soft Blue Heron case
This is an excellent example of Blue Lion’s flagship rosewood Model II with the classic mother of pearl and brass rose on the fingerboard. I’ve been lucky enough to play and own several of these and this is probably the best-sounding of all of them.
2.102 – 1998 McSpadden Ginger G-WS – £Sold inc. original padded soft case
Early example of McSpadden’s popular short scale Ginger model, this one with walnut body and spruce top. Has the sound, look and build of a top-rated dulcimer, but with a 23″ scale length suitable for smaller hands.
2.89 Green River #1165 4 String Hourglass November 1978 £Sold
2.64 Green River #1909 4 String Hourglass April 1983 £230
Two examples of these big and surprisingly mellow dulcimers from the Green River Dulcimer Company which, for 20 years, produced good quality mountain and hammered dulcimers in reasonable quantities. These handmade instruments are distinguished by clean, elegant design, large and deep bodies, and the use of often striking woods. One has a laminate body but a spectacular solid wood, exotic top. The other is dark, solid walnut with a lovely grain. The former has a few cosmetic flaws as a result of past repairs, but is now back on form and raring to go! The latter is in generally good condition. Just be aware that they have a long scale length and may not suit those with smaller hands.
Green River #1165
Green River #1909
2.22 – 1990 – Mastertone Hourglass – 5 String – £Sold including case
Attractive dulcimer (“Finest in Quality and Sound”) #6990 dated 2-2-90, handmade (and signed) by Jim and Brenda Good in Gandeeville, West Virginia. Jim has been playing and making dulcimers for over 40 years in this rural, musical area north of Charleston, West Virginia. This is not one of the carved top dulcimers for which Mastertone is particularly known, but it is a handsome beast!
2.95 & 2.71 Folkcraft CSH Series – 4 String Hourglass
These are semi-custom dulcimers from one of the big two US makers.
2.95 – 1993 – Walnut, Cedar and ?Rosewood/Osage Orange – 4 String Hourglass – £Sold
Near perfect example of the classic scroll head, arched fingerboard Folkcraft design, with nicely figured exotic wood highlights. Plays well and sounds good.
2.71 – 1990 – Walnut, Cedar and Rosewood – 4 String Hourglass – £Sold
Nicely-figured bookmatched walnut back and sides with western red cedar top and rosewood veneer on fingerboard and tailblock. Good condition, little used and with a fuller, more forward sound than the basic Folkcraft.
CLICK this heading or the picture below to see all the Intermediate/advanced instruments previously sold.
This page contains the short catalogue listing for each sold dulcimer, but links to the detailed individual descriptions are still live if you click on the pictures.