Day 14: Interstate Tour 2018
Buttercup is the second double-dulcimer that Folkcraft Instruments custom-built for me, half-diatonic (modern) and half-chromatic with a 29" VSL. Cherry wood with cedar and purpleheart accents, she's stunning in visual as well as sound, but we've been through three different pickup and preamp configurations. First, the Fishman Aura, then the Prefix Pro and now the Blend Pro. The doubles give me more flexibility with tuning, but I enjoy playing standard-sized dulcimer and my main axe has seen better days, so I did a little shopping from the showroom wall for a new dulcimer.
Folkcraft has built me amazing creations, but I also like just picking up an instrument off the shelf, stock, if you will. It makes it even more amazing when someone inquires about the instrument and I tell them that they can have one just like it.
I first glanced at this sexy instrument built in February of this year by Jim Ash. Made of African mahogany with a spruce top, it boasts a slick pick-guard and dolphin tone holes. With a 25" scale, it had nice pop in the upper octave, a clean, pure sound that rang like a bell.
Then I played this big ol' custom Folkcraft made of red oak and sitka spruce with a 27" VSL. Ebony overlay always helps the notes ring out and, though dense like rosewood, it still had a rich, complex sound while maintaining the crisp highs of the upper octaves. This one's been hanging on the wall since 2015 and I'm sure I've played it a few times before. It was built by Steve Ash, and I'm happy to take another one of his creations home.
It's alway good to talk with Richard Ash and see how things are going. My history with the company, from employee to endorsing artist, dates back to 1994 and I'm always rooting for them, plus, it's easy to stand behind these instruments. The Indiana Dulcimer Festival will be back next year, and there's talk about expanding the Folkcraft instruments line into student models, which is very exciting and encouraging.
I'm planning on heading back to Folkcraft next week when I boomerang back around for the Indiana Fiddlers Gathering in West Lafayette, Indiana. There'll be more from Folkcraft Instruments, but as my gaze shifted towards Coshocton Dulcimer Days in Ohio, I looked at the map, checked some routing and timelines, and made an executive decision.
Since I'd probably be visiting four or more Cedar Fair parks in the country, I'd buy a Cedar Point Platinum Season Pass, which is good for any of the CF properties, free parking, discounts and early entry for rides. After doing the calculations and realizing that I'd save about $500, I pointed Imua towards Cedar Point, arrived, got my pass (which had been paid for online), scoped out those early access points and then camped at the Walmart Resort: Sandusky with a plan to arrive crazy early and get a place in line for the mad dash to Steel Vengeance, the latest record-breaking coaster rage that's lighting up everyone's #1 spot on their best coaster lists.