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Late Lynn McSpadden Era Dulcimers

Lynn McSpadden founded the company that bore his name in the late 60s and his signature, together with that of just 2 or 3 other craftsmen, appears on all the dulcimers built in the 80 and 90s.  The standard dulcimers were therefore the product of an experienced and tight-knit team and by the 1990s, had reached a standard of excellence that made McSpadden the best-known and trusted dulcimer brand in the world.  Lynn retired and sold the business in 2001. His brother continued in the workshop under the new owner, Jim Woods, who decided from May 2006 to revise the range (with new designations) and move to all-solid wood dulcimers, thus ushering in a new era of excellence.

2.139  August 2003  McSpadden FH12CR #46253    NB  Has 1+ fret       £350 + £15 padded case    

Usual printed label with detail as follows:  “#46253…[h/w] Richard Stoltze…FH12CR…Aug.2003”.

Late Lynn McSpadden era dulcimer.  Solid cherry sides and cherry laminated back with solid redwood top.  Name printed in script to the right of the strum hollow.  Flat standard later head Cherry fingerboard with (original?) 1+ fret.  Chrome strap buttons each end.  Signed by one of the most experienced McSpadden craftsmen.

Overall length 35¾”, upper bout 5⅝”, lower bout 6⅞”, depth 1¾”, FBW 1½”, VSL 28⅜” (medium/long scale), weight 1lb 16oz (901g), strings now 10/10, 14, 23w.  Has a 1+, 6+ and 13+ fret.

Probably the best combination – cherry body and redwood top.  Shows some signs of usage – a few small marks on the redwood top – but looks good generally and sounds exactly as it should.

2.137  July 1997 McSpadden FM12W: 

Usual printed label of this era with the following handwritten, “Lynn McSpadden/ FM12W  July 2007/ #35905 [printed]”.

Solid walnut top and sides, the former bookmatched, with a nice gradation of colour as the board moves into the sapwood at its edges.  Laminated walnut back, but solid walnut two piece hollow fingerboard; zero fret; composite nut and bridge; cross-grained walnut string strainer and stainless mushroom-headed pins as string anchors; chrome Gotoh tuners – standard features of the FM12 model.  Strap buttons at head and tail.  Bigger flat headstock with routed concentric ring logo.

Overall length 36⅛”, upper bout 5⅝”, lower bout 6⅞”, depth 1¾”, FBW 1½”, VSL 28⅜” (medium/long scale), weight 2lb 2oz (956g), strings now 10, 14, 23w.  Has a 6+ and 13+ fret.

In excellent condition, unmarked, with original leather hanging strap still round headstock.  Really attractive gradation of colour on the (solid) walnut top.  A clearly articulated, but slightly softer sound than the solid walnut versions.

2.136  November 1990  McSpadden FM-12W Special: 

Standard early 90s label, printed in brown, with following handwritten, “Richard Stoltze/FM-12W Special/ 11-1990/ #22366 [NB the serial number is h/w rather than usual machine numbering].

Has what appears to be carefully-chosen woods, with a straight-grained, bookmatched solid walnut top and rippled bookmatched walnut back, with centre purfling.  Has interesting chunky longitudinal central strut and lighter cross-struts on the back.  Bigger 1990s routed head with concentric circle logo, usual two piece walnut fingerboard, composite nut and fixed bridge, cross-grained walnut string strainer, zero fret – as on standard FM12 of this period.  But it has chunky Grover chrome tuners, not Gotohs, and there are MoP markers at frets 3, 5, 7 (double), 10 and 13 (?!).

Overall length 35⅞”, upper bout 5⅝”, lower bout 6⅞”, depth 1¾”, FBW 1½”, VSL 28⅜” (medium/long scale), weight 2lb 3oz (1006g), strings now 11, 14, 23w.  Has a 6+ and 13+ fret.

There is a very small mark on one edge, but this instrument is otherwise immaculate.  Sounds warm and as crisp and clear as a new all-solid McSpadden.  Excellent value.

2.135 April 1999 McSpadden FM12CS: 

Usual printed label with handwritten details, “…Lynn McSpadden/ FM12CS  April 1999/ #38852 [printed]”.

Solid cherry sides, flat head, two piece fingerboard but laminated cherry back.  Tight-grained solid spruce bookmatched top which has developed a rich yellow colour, beautifully complementing the ginger colour of the body.  Later plain flat headstock, without concentric logo, although appears slightly longer than current head.  Usual composite nut and bridge; zero fret; cross-grained walnut strainer; stainless anchor pins; Gotoh tuners.  Has strap buttons each end.

Overall length 36”, upper bout 5⅝”, lower bout 6⅞”, depth 1¾”, FBW 1½”, VSL 28⅜” (medium/long scale), weight 1lb 15oz (894g), strings now 10, 14, 25w.  Has a 6+ and 13+ fret.

Light build and cherry/spruce combination give it a bright, clear and attractive sound.  Good looking dulcimer, with just a few light marks on the top and light pick wear on the far side of the strum hollow.

2.102  July 1998  McSpadden Ginger G-WS – £Sold inc. original good quality soft case: 

Usual printed label, as 2001 below, but with:  “Lynn McSpadden [h/w]/ Model: G-WS  July 1998 [h/w]” etc.  This must be an early short-scale Ginger.  It has a walnut body made from a high quality laminate (as all standard McSpaddens did at the time) and a solid spruce top with good, close grain.  Hollow, two-part walnut fingerboard with no overlay, and plain flat walnut headstock with chrome Gotoh tuners.  Walnut endblock is routed for the string anchors, but these are just straight copper (?) rather than chrome mushroom-headed pins (the loops tend to slip off when changing strings!).  Has the standard zero fret and composite nut, but the composite bridge is floating, presumably to allow compensation for alternate GDG and DAD tunings.  This became fixed in later production Gingers, I believe.  “McSpadden” name is branded on the fingerboard just between bridge and strum hollow.  Heart soundholes are typical McSpadden shape, pointing to tail.  Overall length 29¾”, upper bout 5⅜”, lower bout 7⅛”, depth 1¾”, FBW 1½”, VSL 23¼” (short scale), weight 1lb 16oz (901g), strings now 12/12, 15, 26w.  Has a 6+ and 13+ fret.

These Gingers are in great demand, especially from players with smaller hands.   This example has been well used, but is in good condition, with just a few marks on the fingerboard and top near the strum hollow.  It plays easily, has good volume and the sound is pleasing, but it perhaps lacks just a little of the clarity and responsiveness of a full-size McSpadden equivalent.

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2.101  June 1996  McSpadden FM12CR:  SOLD

Usual printed slip as 2001 below, but “George Looney [h/w]/ Model: [h/w] FM12CR  June 1996….#33666” etc.  Body is high quality laminated cherry, with a solid redwood (bookmatched) top.  Has the short-lived flat, classical guitar type cherry headstock with routed concentric circle logo and nice gold Gotoh tuners (which complement the red cherry perfectly).  Standard two-part hollow cherry fingerboard, with “McSpadden” branded onto it, just between bridge and strum hollow.  Composite nut (with zero fret) and fixed bridge.  Cherry endblock is routed for the chrome mushroom-headed string anchors.  Importantly, this appears to have original 1+ and 8+, as well as 6+ and 13+ frets.  Overall length 35⅝”, upper bout 5⅝”, lower bout 6⅞”, depth 1¾”, FBW 1½”, VSL 28⅜” (medium/long scale), weight 2lb 1oz (948g), strings now 10/10, 14, 23w.  Has a 1+, 6+ , 8+ and 13+ fret.

As with so many of the cherry/redwood McSpaddens, sounds great – clear and full with more cut-through than the walnuts.  Good condition, but some tiny signs of use on edge of fingerboard and top.  With its extra frets, an excellent instrument for a decent player who wants to progress.

2.100  June 2001 McSpadden FM12W Special – EFB:  SOLD

Usual printed label, “McSPADDEN/ Mountain Dulcimers/ Mountain View, Arkansas/ [h/w] Lynn McSpadden/ Model: [h/w] FM12W  Special-EFB/ June 2001/Made in USA”.  The Specials seem to have been made in limited numbers, usually to order.  At a time when the standard McSpadden had a laminated back and sides, these were all solid wood and fully bookmatched, some (all?) with a contrasting wood overlay on fingerboard and endblock.  This has a walnut body with a nice figure, bookmatched top and back with a white wood purfling strip down the centre back.  The usual hollow two piece fingerboard has a lovely brown-flecked ebony overlay, continuing onto the tail block after the strum hollow.  It has mother of pearl markers on frets 3, 5, 7 (double), 10, 12, 14 (double) and 17.  The “McSpadden” name is branded onto the strum hollow.  It has the flat, almost classical guitar type head, with the short-lived concentric ring routing.  Chrome Gotohs, composite nut and fixed bridge, zero fret – as on standard FM12 of this period.  Routed end block with chrome mushroom-headed pins as string anchors, but strainer is a block of ebony (to match fingerboard overlay) rather than usual walnut.  Overall length 35½”, upper bout 5⅝”, lower bout 6⅞”, depth 1¾”, FBW 1½”, VSL 28⅜” (medium/long scale), weight 1lb 16oz (901g), strings now 10/10, 15, 23w.  Has a 6+ and 13+ fret.

Excellent original condition with no marks.  Sounds precise and clear, with some sustain and the typical sweetness of walnut.  Action and intonation are excellent.  This is a really nice piece of lutherie, almost comparable to a product of one of the low volume, hand-builders.  Pictures not available.

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