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Folkcraft Player - Richard Ash

richard ash with dulcimer
I have a long relationship with making music from (failed) organ lessons in the third grade to a (highly successful) experience with school bands and choirs starting in the seventh grade.

I studied music education in college, and then taught in various schools, starting in Montana, then moving to Indiana, before "retiring" from public school teaching after only five years. I then went into business for myself as a private music instructor, which led to my opening a music store, which led to my purchasing Folkcraft in 2007.

Which led to my learning to play the mountain dulcimer! I grew up in Arkansas, and Dad had a locally-made dulcimer (you can guess where it came from, I'm sure), but my musical focus at that time was primarily voice and wind instruments, so I didn't pay much attention to the dulcimer until 2007.

But in 2007, I landed in the dulcimer world with both feet. And what a world! The nicest people, the coolest instruments, and the most amazing music. I've played bassoon in Carnegie Hall, performed for multiple presidents, and studied with some of the most renowned classical instructors found anywhere. But none of that compares to what I've found with the mountain dulcimer.

When Bing Futch showed me how to play "Black Mountain Rag" on the dulcimer, I was hooked. And a few months later, I was jamming (badly - I was still inexperienced!) with Bing and Steve (Seifert). Steve looked over at me and said "your left hand looks pretty good, but your right hand is all wrong". So he gave me some "how to strum" suggestions, and then my playing really took off.

As my playing has improved, so has the quality of the dulcimers I am capable of making.

As a builder, I can make myself anything I want. But I try to restrain myself, and focus mostly on making instruments for customers.  Here's my current trio of dulcimers that I play nearly every day:

richard ash daily player dulcimers
Bottom/left: a standard dulcimer in DAD/CGC. Walnut, butternut, 25" VSL. Fishman and NT-11 pickups. I use this one for jams/teaching/club playing.

Center: a traditionally-fretted dulcimer, six strings, all tuned to "G". The frets go only under the melody strings. No 1.5 or 6.5 frets. Rosewood, Western red cedar. This one makes me happy when I play it.

Top/right: a Folkcraft LAP-JO. Sometimes I just have to feel that banjo sound, and this dulcimer does the trick for me. I use this in both performances and in jam sessions. Even with guitars and hammered dulcimers, I can hear myself play the LAP-JO, since it is so powerful.

One of my best things about playing dulcimer is the people. Here's a photo of some of my favorite dulcimer players - the Woodburn Dulcimer Club. We sit and make music for two hours every Tuesday night, and it is a HUGE amount of fun.

woodburn dulcimer club 2 1 23

I have the privilege of making dulcimers and making dulcimer music because of you. Thank you.