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Folkcraft Dulcimer-Guitar Prototype Progress

February 16, 2024

Good Morning, Y'all - Happy Friday!
We have two new videos for the prototype dulcimer/guitar instrument we're working on to share with you. This first video has me showing you around the instrument, then playing a couple of tunes towards the end:
Richard Demo (Flatpicking And Strumming)
richard ash demonstrating the second prototype of their new dulcimer-guitar instrument
and this second video has my friend Susan showing you what it sounds like as a fingerstyle dulcimer:
video of richard's friend susan playing fingerstyle on the second dulcimer-guitar prootype instrument
We're hard at work on prototype number three. Hopefully, it will be done by the time you read this shop blog, because I'm hoping to take it to tomorrow's festival: the Dayton (Ohio) Dulcimer Doin's. Worst case, No. 3 will be done in time for next week's festival: the Florida Gulf Coast Dulcimer Retreat in Homosassa, FL. (More details HERE on that event - you can still sign up!)
I'll try to get Bing Futch (one of the world's premier dulcimer players, for sure) to let me record a few demo videos - so you can hear this new instrument in the hands of a true master.
So why are we making this dulcimer? Short answer is: "We had the idea and all of us at the shop were excited about it." Kind of like our LAP-JO was for us back in 2016. In 2016, Steve (my brother) and I took all of January that year and made prototypes of the Folkcraft LAP-JO®. By that February, we were largely happy with the new instrument and had made a few of them to take to festivals. Steve took some to the Ohio Valley Gathering in Lexington, KY, and that same weekend, I took the rest to the Florida Gulf Coast Dulcimer Retreat in Homosassa, FL. And the LAP-JO took off from there. You can find them all over the country now.

The new dulcimer/guitar hybrid is going to be (I'm 99% sure) a "big" hit with dulcimer players. Every player who's had one of the prototypes "on-the-lap" has walked away with a huge grin. And we're not done, yet! So you just wait - I suspect that a lot of you will want one of these.
We have had requests for a variety of other instruments - stick dulcimers, travel dulcimers, solid-body dulcimers, nylon string dulcimers, student dulcimers, and more. But we're a small company by nearly every measure, and taking production time away from building customer-suggested instruments is hard for us. You don't want to wait on special orders, and we don't want to make you wait.
It has taken us six years to get going on our latest new instrument. (LAP-JO in 2016 to now, in 2024) At this rate, our next new instrument will be in eight years, or approximately 2032. Or maybe we'll still get that lower-priced student model out some time this summer? Our shop is at its best staffing in a decade. Dad and I have been supplemented with two amazing (AMAZING!!!) luthiers - Cheyenne and Casey. And Pam has totally taken over running the company on the "back end" - purchasing, receiving, and of course making all of our cases. I'm a lucky guy to have such talented people surrounding me, and the quality of our instruments, here in 2024, is the highest I've ever seen.
Go ahead and watch the videos. The first video for general background on the instrument - and me playing both flat-picked and strumming tunes. Then watch the second video for a finger-style demonstration.

Thanks for reading, Y'all - Have a great weekend!
Richard Ash, luthier-who-is-planning-on-performing-with-the-new-hybrid-dulcimer-in-Florida-in-just-eight-days