Folkcraft / FolkRoots Timeline, From 1968 To The Present
Late 1960's, early 1970s, in northern California...
1968 - Howard Rugg made his first dulcimer in Felton, California.
1969 - Brothers Howard Rugg and Michael Rugg become partners. Mike came up with the CapriTaurus name: Capri (Howard) with Taurus (Michael). The first CapriTaurus dulcimer had a walnut body, a spruce top, and a carved gargoyle peghead.
During these early years, Howard built the instruments, Michael did the branding of the instruments, sold the instruments, performed at fairs, carved scroll heads, and played the instrument expertly.
Steve Jackel worked for Michael and Howard starting in 1973 (working for CapriTaurus), and he became a third partner some time in the early 1970's.
The new partnership became known as Rugg, Rugg & Jackel. RR & J then created the first FolkRoots-branded dulcimer, which was based on the original CapriTaurus plywood dulcimer. The FolkRoots line was sold wholesale to music stores.
Early 1970's, in northern Vermont...
1974 - Folkcraft Instruments was founded by David Marks in Lyndon, Vermont. David was a music supervisor in the Lyndon schools, and with his finely-tuned ear, he took the dulcimer's state-of-the-art from "okay" to "amazing". Few makers at this point were making instruments that played in tune, or had a good action. David's demanding ears took Folkcraft to the top of the pack, quality-wise. The company became known for high-quality dulcimers, and before long, David was looking for a larger facility for Folkcraft Instruments.
Back to California...
1976 - Rugg, Rugg & Jackel broke up the partnership. Steve Jackel and Howard Rugg formed a new partnership, called Rugg & Jackel. The old partnership had two "Ruggs" in the name, the new partnership reflected Michael Rugg working independently from Howard and Steve.
The Rugg & Jackel company kept the FolkRoots line, and Michael Rugg retained control of the CapriTaurus name and line of solid wood dulcimers.
And now back to Vermont...
1979 - After only a few years in Vermont, the company was so successful that David moved Folkcraft to a larger building. Folkcraft moved to Winsted, Connecticut, where it stayed until January of 2007. While in Connecticut, David Marks took the company from a one-person operation to a large (for folk instruments) national presence, with an active mail-order operation, multiple showrooms, and a store at Disneyworld.
And in Connecticut...
1989 - Howard Rugg and Steve Jackel decide to retire from dulcimer building, and they sell the FolkRoots line of dulcimers to Folkcraft Instruments. The tools, wood, and inventory are trucked from Felton, California to Winsted, Connecticut.
Now to Indiana...
In 1990, Richard Ash (the current owner of Folkcraft Instruments, which now includes FolkRoots dulcimers) retired from teaching music in the public schools, and went into business by starting up a music store in the small town of Woodburn, Indiana. The main focus was private instruction, but with a roster of active teachers, the company soon expanded to include sheet music and accessory items.
By 2005, it was time to expand, and Richard began looking for something new. He found out that David Marks was retiring from (over thirty years!) dulcimer building. The fall of 2006 took Richard from Woodburn, Indiana to Winsted, Connecticut. Richard fell in love with the company, and with the instruments, and ended up purchasing Folkcraft Instruments from David Marks.
On January 5, 2007, the paperwork was completed, and the move from Connecticut to Indiana was begun. Seven semi trucks (six enclosed, and one flat bed), a whole lot of labor, and a bit of luck took all of the tools, instruments, lumber, and work in progress to Folkcraft's new home in Woodburn, Indiana.
In 2009, Richard Ash (with his brother, Steve Ash) created the Druid Moon line of ukuleles. The new designs of ukulele feature a heavier construction than is common with contemporary ukuleles, and this gave the instruments more sustain and more warmth, making them very popular with fingerstyle ukulele players.
Folkcraft Instruments now has three main product lines - Folkcraft Instruments (mountain dulcimers, hammered dulcimers, psalteries, and kanteles), Druid Moon (ukuleles), and FolkRoots (dulcimers).