I need to share my excitement about how beautiful my new mountain dulcimer will be. Because I didn't want to purchase a McSpadden, mainly due to the use of plywood and no hard shell case, and it was a little bit more money, I went with Folkcraft to build my first dulcimer. I made the best decision I could based on my online research and a few tips from Karen Mueller. Karen actually recommends the McSpadden by the way, and it is played by Stephen Seifert, who teaches Mountain Dulcimer at DulcimerSchool.com. To be honest, I had already fallen in love with the beautiful things due to Bing Futch's playing on them, and his recommendation of them as well. He has a gallery of his dulcimers on his website, many of which were made by Folkcraft.
Since Karen said I shouldn't get a dulcimer with a lacquered fretboard, that ruled out the ready to ship FSH models. I was really concerned about that as well, so I contacted them and they said it would be no problem to build my dulcimer with a waxed fretboard, which is an option on their fully custom model.
She also mentioned that having a tuning head that is flat like a guitar would make it easier to change the strings than the more traditional scroll. Because I have a tremor, I did opt for that $50.00 upgrade, because stuff like that can be difficult for me at times. The Build Your Own option for the FSH model has lots of options to choose from, including sound holes. I couldn't resist the old folkie beauty of the hearts & vine option that is pictured at the top of this post. Hearts are traditional, and I love growing things. The fine woodburning around the pattern just adds another layer of texture.
Then there were the wood choices, just three to choose from, they did have a nice description on what the different tones would be like on the page:
The FSH Folkcraft teardrop dulcimer is a superb instrument for those that are budget minded. The black walnut creates a fat, mellow tone with great resonance. Or, you can select northern cherry which creates a bright full sound that has slight ringing overtones. Plus you can select the tone hole style that fits your personality. The FSH model is perfect for the beginner.
So I went with the Northern Cherry because one of the qualities I love about the dulcimer is the silvery tones of it over the mellowness of a guitar or the twang of a banjo. And that's the final picure I have is of the wood:
I think I compiled this entry for myself more than anyone, so I can come back and remember how I made my decisions, and so I can look at my options and imagine my new mountain dulcimer for the next few weeks. I am also collecting Dulcimer TAB that I will be adding to my music book. There will be many songs to learn.