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Folkcraft CSH Series – 4 String Hourglass

Folkcraft is one of the two big US builders of mountain dulcimers, with McSpadden.  It prides itself on always using sold woods in its handmade instruments. David and Melissa Marks started Folkcraft Instruments in Vermont in 1974, moving to Winsted, Connecticut in 1980.  David was a music teacher on the look out for cheap, easy to learn instruments when he came across the mountain dulcimer.  First he worked with students to build dulcimers, then set up on his own part-time, By 1975, the business was booming sufficiently for David to give up teaching.  In 1989, Folkcraft bought the Rugg and Jackel FolkRoots business and took over its product line.  Folkcraft was sold in 2007 and the workshop moved to Woodburn, Indiana.

The CSH range is Folkcraft’s semi-customised dulcimer with better quality woods and fancier design details.

2.95 – 1993 CFSHCeW #642 – Walnut, Cedar and ?Padauk/Osage Orange – 4 String Hourglass – £Sold

Printed label, “Handcrafted by/ Folkcraft Instruments/ Winsted, CT 06098/ Model: CFSHCeW – 642 [h/written]/ Date: 11/9/93”.  Solid bookmatched walnut body with cedar top, weeping heart soundholes and a lovely figured orangey-brown wood for the fingerboard overlay and tail veneer (possibly padauk or osage orange).  Has the standard maple arched fingerboard, scroll head and guitar-style vertical tuners; plastic nut and bridge; copper pin string anchors for loop or ball end strings.

Overall length 37”, upper bout 4¾”, lower bout 6¼”, body height 2”, FBW 1½”, VSL 26⅝” (short/medium scale), weight 2lb 7oz (1107g).  Complete with 6+ (but not 13+) fret.  Strings now 10/10, 14, 23w.

A lovely-looking instrument in near-perfect condition, with very few signs of wear – minimal marking on the normally vulnerable cedar top, no scratches on the back etc.  Sounds warm but quite punchy if pushed, with a very balanced, typically dulcimer sound.  A strong competitor to one of the better sounding, more recent solid wood McSpaddens.  See pictures 4-6 below.

2.71 1990  CFSHCW #423 – £Sold  

This one is a CW:  a CSH with Cedar top and Walnut sides and back.  This has a bookmatched walnut back with a nice figure and a rosewood or wenge inlay strip up the middle.  It has walnut sides and headstock, with four guitar-style open tuners.  Maple cantilevered fingerboard with contrasting wenge overlay (like ebony or dark rosewood with v straight grain).  Western red cedar top with “weeping heart” soundholes.  Wenge cap on tailblock, with pin anchors suitable for ball- or loop-end strings.

Printed label: “Handcrafted by / Folkcraft Instruments/ Winsted, CT 06098/ Model CFSHCW 423/ 12.26.90″.  Overall length 37¼”, upper bout 4¾”, lower bout 6¼”, body height 1¾”, FBW 1⅜”, VSL 26⅝” (short/medium scale), weight 2lb 7oz (1118g). Complete with 6+ and 13+ fret.  Current string gauges 10/10, 14, 23w.

Solid and attractive construction, but produces a strong and balanced, very “dulcimery” sound.  A very close equivalent to one of the better sounding McSpaddens.

Click on images below to enlarge.

 

  • Folkcraft 1990 CFSHCW 423 - 3
  • Folkcraft 1990 CFSHCW 423 - 1
  • Folkcraft 1990 CFSHCW 423 - 6
  • Folkcraft 1993 CFSHCe - 1
  • Folkcraft 1993 CFSHCe - 9
  • Folkcraft 1993 CFSHCe - 5