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.
4.08 – 2014 FolkRoots D Series Dulcimer – 4 String Hourglass – £Sold
This is actually a brand-new and delightful D series Folkcraft hourglass (formerly the D550S). But it has a dark secret – someone at the retailers in the US dropped it, causing some catastrophic cracks. Now repaired, it is looking and sounding glorious, though still not cosmetically perfect. At a £50 discount on the normal UK retail price, this is a bargain.
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
3.50 1980 G David Young – 4 String Hourglass – £Sold
I’m really excited about this dulcimer. The maker, David Young, is the son of Keith Young, a famous dulcimer maker from Annandale, Virginia who died in 2012. Beautifully made and with a stunning wormy chestnut top, this dulcimer’s design borrows a number of features from his father. It also has something of the very distinctive Young dulcimer sound – gutsy yet mellow – and it plays exceptionally well. Worthwhile for a confident player who wants to explore playing with other instruments, perhaps.
2.107 2014 Ron Gibson Teardrop, 6 String £Sold
A neat six string, three course instrument from an Ohio luthier who has been making dulcimers for over 35 years. It is solid cherry throughout with a compact outline but deep sides; it’s light and easy to play; and it gives that 12-string guitar-type sound in normal dulcimer tunings. An interesting alternative to the run-of-the-mill dulcimer.
Modern Mountain Dulcimers
Modern Mountain dulcimers, made by David McKinney from Arkansas, represent a significant milestone in dulcimer development. They are often called “performance dulcimers” for their size and volume, but they are also very easy to play, well balanced across the tonal range and responsive. Many of the pro or semi-pro dulcimer players in the US have a Modern Mountain, including Don Pedi. Note that these are usually 3 string, for ease of chording, and perhaps sound more guitar-like than the usual trebly jangle of a dulcimer. Strongly recommended – my two main go-to dulcimers are Modern Mountains.
2.105 2003 3 String Hourglass (non-resonator) Dulcimer – £Sold
This is the first single back (non-resonator) MM I’ve tried and it’s a stunner! Same clarity of tone and easy action, with very little loss of volume. Nice bookmatched walnut back with spruce top.
2.58 2008 (?) 3 String Hourglass (resonator) Dulcimer – £Sold
This was one of my main instruments until I replaced it with another MM recently. A beautiful deep brown Peruvian walnut body, usual MM easy action and full tone, but with a slightyl softer edge than usual. AND it has an under-saddle pickup and jack output.
2.80 2003 4 String Hourglass Dulcimer – £Sold inc. thick foam, protective slip case
This particular instrument has an interesting backstory, having been owned by 2010 National Dulcimer Champion Aaron O’Rourke, one of the young guns of the US dulcimer scene and a popular teacher at festivals. He’s signed it on the back. Very easy action and a full, balanced sound – almost as much guitar as dulcimer?
2.104 – 1991 Ron Ewing Custom 4 String Tearell – £Sold
This beautiful custom dulcimer from the ever-inspiring Ron Ewing has got me really rather enthused. It’s a rich red/brown Koa body with a western red cedar top, beautifully constructed as always, but with excellent tone and note definition. I played it throughout the recent national Nonsuch workshops and found it great to play and really responsive. Not cheap, but real class costs!
2.101 – 1996 McSpadden FM12CR #33666 – 4 String Hourglass – £Sold
I always like McSpadden’s cherry/redwood dulcimers – it’s a stunning colour combination and they always sound more incisive than the more common walnut, at least to my ears. And this one has the added bonus of what look like original 1+ and 8+ frets, as well as the more usual 6+ and 13+. A neat dulcimer.
2.100 – 2001 McSpadden FM12W Special–EFB – 4 String Hourglass – £Sold inc. shell case
The specials were solid wood, semi-custom dulcimers at a time when McSpaddens were using laminate sides and back for their standard models. This is the first I’ve purchased and it surprised me – the best sounding McSpadden I’ve heard, without exception. It also has an ebony headstock and fingerboard overlay which enhances its appearance and improves playability. Truly special….
2.98 – 2004 Cripple Creek “Eagle”-themed 4 String Hourglass – £Sold
A recent higher-end dulcimer from the workshop of Bud and Donna Ford. They make decent intermediate dulcimers which can be customised in a wide variety of ways. Here the choice appears to have been an Eagle theme – original soundhole design and each side of the scroll. If you buy the case, I’ll even throw in a good quality strap with an eagle design!
2.97 – 2009 Richard Turner 4 String Teardrop Dulcimer – £Sold
A superbly built one-off teardrop made from some really classy materials. Richard was primarily a player/teacher but also a part-time luthier. This sounds great and works really well. A bargain price for something of this quality.
2.96 – 2005 Tom Yocky 4 String Hourglass Dulcimer – £Sold inc. original padded case
An unusual-looking dulcimer but one that works really well. This is an unmarked example of Yocky’s stunningly original take on the hourglass dulcimer. It has a light but large body with “pegbox” and fingerboard sitting on top of the soundboard. Sounds full and clear without being boomy. Great value, albeit with marmite looks!
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.
2.93 – 1984 Fellenbaum 4 String Hourglass Dulcimer – £Sold
I’m selling this lovely hourglass on commission. It’s a relatively early model, but with a classic elegant shape and made from one of the classic wood combinations – walnut and cedar. Fellenbaum makes a very limited number of genuinely handcrafted dulcimers each year. They are rarely showy, but their playability, tone and intonation are always top-notch.
2.91 – 1978 or 1979 – McSpadden T34-W – £Sold
Model T-34W, # 5503, handcrafted by the McSpadden workshop in Mountain View, Arkansas. This one was signed in the traditional way by the individual craftsman (and founder), Lynn McSpadden, who built it. A very elegant all-walnut teardrop instrument in as-new condition with a traditional scroll headstock and a classic dulcimer sound. Suitable for all abilities.
2.87 1994 Fellenbaum 4 String Hourglass #754 £Sold
This is another high quality, understated dulcimer from one of my favourite dulcimer makers, Tom Fellenbaum of Black Mountain, N Carolina. We’ve kept two of the four I’ve found to date…and I was very tempted by this one. It has a glowing, all cherry body with a spruce top and hence has plenty of punch, but with Fellenbaum’s typical clarity and balance. Beautifully made, Very easy to play and sounds great.
2.86 Doyn Lammers – 1990s (?) 4 String Hourglass Dulcimer – £Sold
A pretty dulcimer from a low volume maker in Arkansas, now in his 90s and only recently retired. The glowing curly cherry body has Lammers’ trademark dogwood-shaped soundholes. In excellent condition for its age, it is an attractive instrument with a decent sound.
2.81 1986 Ron Ewing – 4 String Teardrop – £Sold
A pretty and unusual dulcimer from Ohio master craftsman Ron Ewing. This looks and feels so modern, it’s hard to believe that it is nearly 30 years old. Not a big sound, but a very high quality instrument with a balanced, full tone and a lovely action, either for fingerpicking or plectrum styles. Suitable for players of all abilities, but probably most worthwhile for someone who wants to try more challenging material.
2.79 1998 McSpadden FM12-CR – 4 String Hourglass – £Sold
Another good, modern McSpadden from the pre-Jim Woods era. This is a classic cherry and redwood instrument, signed by Larry McSpadden, brother of founder, Lynn McSpadden, before he died. The McSpadden concern is perhaps the best known and most consistent craft maker of mountain dulcimers in the world. They continue to produce well-made, reliable and great-sounding instruments. This is no exception.
2.78 Richard & Denise Wilson – 1983 4 String Hourglass – £Sold …and
2.88 Richard and Denise Wilson – 1987 4 String Hourglass – £Sold
Two beautifully made solid wood dulcimers from a husband and wife concern in Michigan – Richard made the bodies, while Denise carved the soundholes and created the often stunning decorations. The 1983 dulcimer has a delightful beach-themed design: the 1987 has butterflies and elegant, skewed hearts. More importantly, both play well, being crisp and clear with good responsiveness.
2.78 1983 4 String Hourglass
2.88 1987 4 String Hourglass
2.77 2003 FolkRoots Baritone – 4 String 3 Course – £Sold
I’ve managed to find a near-perfect Folkcraft semi-custom BARITONE dulcimer. Walnut body with contrasting padauk (dark red) overlays on head, fingerboard and tail. Plays in AEA or ADA, a fifth below the standard dulcimer – and sounds so mellow doing it! This is a very good looking, large-bodied instrument which plays as easily as a standard dulcimer. Current model costs nearly £500 in the US, let alone imported, so at this price…why not?
2.75 McSpadden M12-S 1989 #19,977 £Sold
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!
2.74 1980 Green River – 4 String Teardrop – £Sold
A relatively early example from these fine makers when they were based in Elkhorn, Kentucky. As always, attractive walnut grain and neat wood work. These are big dulcimers with a longish scale, but a mellow, full tone. The hourglasses have sold well and this looks and sounds equally good.
2.73 2005 Clemmer – 5 String Hourglass – £Sold
A pristine example of Mike Clemmer’s update on the old Bill Davis/Sam Carrell theme. These handcrafted Tennessee dulcimers are very popular in the US, combining good looks with real drive and breadth of tone. Can be set up with four equidistant courses (as in the pictures) or in the more conventional three (with just one middle string). This one is recent and in absolutely perfect condition – would cost at least £500 to import new.
2.72 Diamond Designs (Richard & Denise Wilson) – 4 String Hourglass – £Sold
This is a neat, smaller dulcimer from husband and wife luthiers who have been building dulcimers since the mid-70s in Michigan. Richard does the construction and Denise the stunning custom inlays. #3893 from 1995 is one of the nicer ones I’ve seen, with a beach scene centred around seagulls: four seagull-shaped soundholes, a high quality marquetry beach scene with sea washing against groynes, and two mother-of-pearl seagulls – one close, one further away, up the fretboard. And yes, they make dulcimers which sound good also: open-sounding, not loud but bright and crisp.
2.69 1999 Blue Lion Bass #2810 – 3 or 4 String Hourglass – £Sold
Yes, you read it right. This is a rarely seen BASS dulcimer, tuned an octave below standard. A big cherry body with redwood top, created and perfected by the classic Californian Blue Lion lutherie, based in Santa Margarita. Easy to play, surprisingly punchy sound and full tone, with Blue Lion’s usual elegance of design. Can be strung with 3 or 4 courses. And the hard shell fitted case is worth £150 on its own! Call me to learn more.
2.67 – 2012 – McSpadden 4 String Cherry/Redwood Hourglass – £Sold
A good condition McSpadden complete with original soft case and strap. Very attractive mid-red cherry body with evenly grained redwood top – apparently the favoured combination of widely influential McSpadden player David Schnaufer. Easy action for fingerpicking in particular. An attractive sound from an attractive instrument.
2.66 Blue Lion Model IIW Walnut – 4 String Hourglass – £Sold
Classic Californian dulcimer with fine woods, elegant design and most importantly a strikingly full-balanced sound. Easy to play, superbly put together, responsive, pretty – it has everything going for it. Bob and Janita Baker have been making truly hand-made, high class instruments since 1977 for the discerning player. First to play will buy!
2.62 1981 Sam Carrell – 5 String Fiddle-Shaped – £Sold
I’m really excited about this one. These are just stunning dulcimers, originally intended to have 5 strings in 4 courses, but they work brilliantly with the conventional 4 strings in 3 courses. This has a striking reddish wormy chestnut top with a pronounced grain, and beautiful black walnut sides and (bookmatched) back. Carrell is a real craftsman and has managed a great trick – an instrument which can play both soft and sweet or loud and cutting; a well-balanced tone with clear treble (shallow body) and clear bass (high volume body); and low action/excellent intonation with original 6+ fret. Works superbly as is, BUT this could be more, if you want to replace the (very effective) wooden pegs with guitar-style tuners and perhaps a slightly compensated bridge for DAdd-specific playing. Further details about Sam and pics of my own 1982 chestnut/walnut Carrell are here (half way down page).
2.61 Clemmer “Sweetie” – 4 String Elliptical – £Sold
A nice alternative to the McSpadden “Ginger” – a smaller-bodied, short scale (23″ VSL) dulcimer from highly rated Tennessee builder Mike Clemmer. Attractive wormy chestnut top with walnut back and sides. Handcut wheat ear decorations on head, fingerboard and strum hollow. Grover tuners, bone nut and chrome strap buttons.
2.57 – 2006 – McSpadden 4FGCC “Ginger” Hourglass – 4 String – £Sold
This is McSpadden’s very popular “Ginger” short scale model. Attractive all-cherry (and all solid wood) body in the classic hourglass-with-hearts shape, but with a VSL (scale length) of only 23 1/4″. Can be tuned to normal DAD pitch or played as a higher pitched GDG instrument, to complement a fiddle or mandolin playing in G. Attractive also for those with smaller hands, as you get the sound without the stretch! Well made, as always with McSpadden, sounds great and plays very easily. Unlikely to be around long, so be quick.
2.55 – 2013 – June Apple “Poplar Hill” Hourglass – 4 String – £Sold
This Poplar Hill is June Apple’s top of the line concert or “artist” model. This is a large-bodied dulcimer with striking looks and a tone to match. The June Apple dulcimer concern is run by the Gotzmer family and this particular dulcimer was created by master craftsman (and head of household) Carl Gotzmer. Custom made in late 2013, extras include scroll headstock, gold Grover (geared) banjo tuners, abalone dot inlays, custom hand carved F holes, purfling, wenge fretboard overlay, zebra wood back and sides and red cedar top. Also includes noter, two feather picks and original set of spare strings.
2.54 – 2001 Folkcraft NAMM Centennial Collector Series – 4 String Hourglass – £Sold
Rare top of the range Folkcraft, made in a limited edition for the NAMM Centenary in 2001 – number 8. Big body, made of air dried black walnut, with cedar top; rosewood fingerboard, headstock veneer and heel cap; inlay strip on back; gold Grover tuners. Immaculate condition. A very neat and classy instrument with a great sound.
2.53 – 2011 – McSpadden 4 String Cherry/Redwood Hourglass – £Sold
A mint McSpadden complete with original soft case and instruction/introductory music book. Very attractive mid-red cherry body with rich redwood top – apparently the favoured combination of widely influential McSpadden player David Schnaufer. Sounded great straight out of the box, even after a 2 year hibernation!
2.52 – 2005 – McSpadden FH12CS Cherry/Spruce 4 String Hourglass – £Sold
A classic McSpadden #49000 with an interesting combination of woods, made by Larry McSpadden – brother of the founder of the business, Lynn. Cherry sides and back with unusually coloured spruce top. As always with these reliably well made and good-sounding instruments, this is well worth considering. Generally very good condition with a warm attractive colour, but priced lower because it has had an accident and been (well) repaired – see detailed description. Great sound, great bargain!
2.51 – 2000 – Keith Young 3 String Teardrop Dulcimer – £Sold
A fine dulcimer from this important maker from Annandale, Virginia, who died in 2012. Beautiful wormy chestnut top with walnut body – a classic dulcimer combination. Add the neatly carved headstock, replacement geared banjo tuners and full, “woody” sound, and you have a very desirable, old/modern dulcimer!
2.50 – 2006 – Paul Conrad 3 String Hourglass Dulcimer – £Sold
An innovative design from well-known luthier Paul Conrad of Timbre Hill Dulcimers, Ohio. Made of red elm with a walnut fretboard, it produces a strong, bright sound but with a warm bass underlay. Geared banjo-type tuners.
2.49 – 1991 – Walnut Valley Hourglass – 4 String – £Sold
Smoky River Model SR #91-229, made by the WVD Company, Burns, Kansas. This is a well built, all walnut dulcimer with bookmatched back and top, and a nicely executed hummingbird design for the soundhole. This is loud and punchy with plenty of response and tonal possibilities. Intonation is good with the replacement bridge. A neat dulcimer in the modern style, it plays well and it sounds good – suitable for all abilities, including the more advanced.
2.45 – 1977 – Ron Ewing 4 String Elliptical/Teardrop Dulcimer – £SOLD
An outstanding early handbuilt dulcimer by master craftsman Ron Ewing. Great volume and tone. Superb intonation with original 6+ fret. Fitted with new 4:1 geared banjo tuners. A couple of short, hairline cracks on the very thin and responsive western red cedar top have been stabilised.
2.43 – June 1984 – Fellenbaum Hourglass – 4 String – 3 Course – £SOLD
High quality handcrafted dulcimer #472 from Tom Fellenbaum of Black Mountain, North Carolina. This is just beautifully made from high quality materials, with a classic, understated design and lovely finish. Good projection with a full, balanced sound. Suitable for all abilities, but will be appreciated most by those making good progress with the instrument.
2.42 – June 1993 – Folkcraft Hourglass – 4 String – 3 Course – £Sold
Model FSHW #2080 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. Loud, with good response across and up the fretboard, this one punches above its weight – satisfying for both beginner and more experienced player.
2.41 – Nov 1975 – McSpadden M12-W Hourglass – 4 String – £Sold
Early period (November 1975, # 3313) Model 12 all walnut instrument from the Dulcimer Shoppe, Mountain View, Arkansas, signed in the traditional way by the individual craftsman and owner of the business, Lynn McSpadden. It is in excellent, as-new condition and has much of the classic sound of a traditional walnut instrument, as well as a traditional carved scroll, but with all the benefits of modern tuners and intonation. Easy to play, great sounding and suitable for players of all abilities.
2.38 – May 1995 – McSpadden Teardrop – 4 String – £Sold
Model T-34W, # 31552, handcrafted by the McSpadden workshop in Mountain View, Arkansas. This one was signed in the traditional way by the individual craftsman (and founder), Lynn McSpadden, who built it. A very elegant all-walnut teardrop instrument in as-new condition with a traditional scroll headstock and a classic dulcimer sound. Suitable for all abilities.
2.37 – Late 80s – Sanguinette/Baird – 4 String – 3 Course – £Sold
Stamped “Baird” on the fingerboard behind the bridge and signed in pencil on a back strut by the luthier, Joe Sanguinette. The original instruction leaflet accompanying the instrument locates the Baird Mountain Dulcimer Company in Branson, Missouri. A tidy, solid walnut dulcimer in the modern style, suitable for all abilities, with a decent sound and unusual star and eagle soundholes.
2.34 – Mid 70s – Davis Fiddle-Shaped – 5 String – 3 or 4 Course – £SOLD
Typical signed Bill Davis fiddle-shaped instrument of the 70s. The shape is one made popular by Davis in the late 60s and early 70s, picked up by others like Sam Carrell (who apprenticed with Davis for a short while in the mid-70s) and continued by modern makers such as Mike Clemmer. Bookmatched walnut top and back with nicely figured walnut sides and attractive wheatear design on sides and top of headstock. The shallow, large volume body gives an excellent tone. But the instrument does have traditional wooden friction pegs and, although these are some of the best I’ve worked with, it is probably best for more experienced players with a reasonably strong grip.
2.33 – August 1997 – French Hourglass – 4 String – £SOLD
An interesting small-bodied French dulcimer made in a luthier’s workshop in Lacroix Saint Ouen, 75km north of Paris. The body is made mainly from beautiful bookmatched brown/black streaked solid ebony – an unusual and striking choice. The soundboard is spruce with trefoil soundholes and the flat headstock walnut (with vestigial scroll). It has a crisp sound and a good treble. With its narrow fingerboard, short scale length and low action, it may appeal to players with smaller hands.
2.31 – Mid/Late 1980s – McSpadden Hourglass – 4 String – £SOLD
Model FM12 #12,090 – a great sounding walnut and spruce McSpadden with a relatively early flat, guitar-type head, handcrafted in Mountain View, Arkansas and signed by the main craftsmen and founder of the business, Lynn McSpadden.
2.30 – 1987 – Green River Hourglass – 4 String – £Sold
A well-made and distinctive instrument from the Green River Dulcimer Company, Asheville, N Carolina, #2685, dated 12-87. Green Rivers have an unusually full and attractive sound, but the slightly higher string tension and long scale length suggest they are best suited to an experienced fretted instrument player with a decent hand span.
2.23 – 1977 – Wilson Hourglass – 4 String – £Sold
Beautiful all walnut dulcimer #265 (on the left in the picture) handmade by Richard and Denise Wilson from Ypsilanti, Michigan. This is a light, very responsive instrument with a lovely tone and good intonation. But it does have traditional wooden friction pegs and, although these work well, it is probably best for players with a reasonably strong grip and experience with such tuners.
2.05 “Keister” – 4 String Hourglass – £Sold
This has a walnut body and spruce top and is a dulcimer I personally imported from the US a few years back. I liked the sound and feel so much, I spent quite a bit on it – replacement bridge, new 6+ fret and gold banjo tuners with ebony buttons. It’s pretty and distinctive – and has a particularly sweet tone, with good responsiveness and excellent intonation. But it’s not loud, has a shortish sustain and doesn’t like being played hard. It’s not getting played as it should, so it’s going, along with its period multi-coloured patchwork suede slip bag.