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2.52 – 2005 – McSpadden FH12CS Cherry/Spruce 4 String Hourglass – £220

“McSpadden/Mountain Dulcimers/Mountain View, Arkansas/Larry McSpadden/Model FH12CS,  July 2005/#49000”.  Last of the middle period  instruments, after Lynn McSpadden sold the business and before the range was re-named and re-jigged.  A model 12 flat head, cherry and spruce  instrument, this is signed in the traditional way by the individual craftsman who built it, Larry McSpadden.  Larry was the brother of the founder, Lynn McSpadden, who retired and sold the business in 2001.  His brother continued in the workshop under the new owners.  The original McSpadden firm began crafting dulcimers full-time in late 1967 or early 1968 and are now possibly the best known makers of mountain dulcimers in the world.

This instrument has an interestingly flecked spruce top with typical McSpadden style “squashed heart” soundholes.  Solid cherry flat headstock and fingerboard with zero fret for accurate intonation and 6½ fret.  Nicely figured (but laminated) cherry sides and back.  Composite nut and bridge.  Good quality chrome mini-Gotoh tuners.  Internally, long central strut to stiffen back of instrument.  Company name inscribed on fingerboard just to the right of the strum hollow.  Small stainless steel string pins.  Overall length 36”, lower bout 7″, upper bout 5¾”, depth 1¾”, FBW 1½”, VSL 28⅜” (medium/long scale), weight 1lb 16oz (901g).  Has a 6½ fret.

McSpadden are 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.  It is a modern instrument with an easy action, despite its longish scale, and sounds very well balanced with plenty of power across the tonal range.  There are some minor cosmetic issues, with 3 or 4 pin head marks on top, light abrasion on end of headstock and very light, almost imperceptible marks on back.  N.B. Seems likely that the headstock was cracked in an accident, but the break has been well repaired – entirely stable and difficult to see (pic 4 below).   The same accident seems also to have sprung the heel, which has been solidly repaired as well.  The instrument plays very well and will present no further problems, but is priced accordingly.  No case.

Click on the thumbnails below to enlarge each photo: