The Folk Roots design goes back to 1969 when two brothers, Howard (a Capricorn) and Michael (a Taurus) Rugg formed CapriTaurus dulcimers in Felton, California. Michael was the dulcimer player and administrator, Howard the maker. Their main model was a big bodied, long scale dulcimer with plenty of power, yet also surprisingly well balanced from treble to bass. In 1973, they were joined by Stephen Jackel and the new partnership began to make their popular laminated wood dulcimers under the FolkRoots name. In 1976, Michael Rugg departed, leaving Rugg and Jackel (and their fellow workers) to turn out thousands of dulcimers. In 1979, the Rugg and Jackel company started making solid wood instruments – the D100, D550 etc. In 1989, the business was sold to Folkcraft who continued to sell their bigger bodied dulcimers under the FolkRoots label – now also called the D series. During the period 1969 – 1989, Howard estimated that they made between 18,000 and 20,000 dulcimers.
The Model D550 was the walnut dulcimer in the solid wood FolkRoots range.
2.138 2006 Folk Roots D550 4 String Hourglass £340 + £20 shell case
Printed label: “Handcrafted by:/FOLKROOTS DULCIMERS [logo]/ Winsted CT 06098/ Model: D550 – 189 [h/w]/ Date: 8-9-2006.”
One of the last produced in Winsted before Folkcraft/FolkRoots was bought out and moved to Indiana in 2007.
All solid walnut with single piece back, nicely-figured bookmatched top, sides and probably fingerboard (although it is lighter and seems unsealed). Small f-hole soundholes in both UB and LB. No dot markers with 6+ but no 13+ fret. Good quality chrome open-geared tuners with two-hole shanks. Ebony nut and bridge.
Overall length 37”, upper bout 5¾”, lower bout 7¾”, depth 2½”, FBW 1½”, VSL 29¼” (long scale), weight 2lb 7oz (1123g), strings now 12, 15, 25w as current FolkRoots instruments. Has 6+, no 13+ fret.
Fitted with a passive “Shadow” pickup, mounted beside the fingerboard, with a ⅛” output and two rotary controls. Excellent condition with some minor abrasion on far-side top. A clear, loud tone and plenty of volume – as you would expect from a large, deep body.
The Model D100S is the classic large D body made from solid Honduras mahogany with a spruce top, designed by Howard Rugg and based on his Capritaurus dulcimers, made in California from the late 60s onwards.
2.127 1979/1980 D 100S #036 £350
Printed label “Rugg and Jackel Music Company/ Folk Roots Dulcimers/ Made in the United States of America/ D100S 036 [h/w]”. The serial number dates it to the very first years of solid wood dulcimer production, either late 1979 or early 1980.
Solid mahogany, fully bookmatched, sides and back with mahogany (hollow) fingerboard, pegbox and scroll. Mahogany endblock with copper pins for string anchors. Rosewood (?) nut and bridge with 6+ but not 13+ frets. Good quality open-geared chrome tuners with a double-hole capstan.
Overall length 36¾”, upper bout 5¾”, lower bout 6⅞”, height 2½”, FBW 1½”, VSL 29¼” (long scale), weight 2lb 1oz (940g), strings now 10, 14, 23w. 6½ fret, no 13+.
A classic design, neat, simple and unshowy, and well constructed from good materials. Has excellent projection with a clean, balanced sound and pretty good intonation. Pristine condition for such an early instrument.
Pictures to follow.