I worked for Folkcraft Instruments very briefly in 1994 upon first moving to Florida. It had been almost ten years since first falling in love with the Appalachian mountain dulcimer and suddenly I was playing and selling them every day at a little kiosk at Walt Disney World. Needless to say, I was blown away by the clarity of tone, the volume and sustain, the beauty of the craftsmanship and many of my paychecks went right back into the company in exchange for dulcimers.
Fast forward 14 years to when company president Richard Ash made me a wonderful offer: an endorsement.
The people at Folkcraft believe in tradition. Not just the way things have been but also how they're going to be. They're a cutting-edge group of craftsmen that are building on a rich heritage of instrument-making while listening closely to what people are looking for in an heirloom-quality creation. Several of their innovations have debuted while I've been back on board with the company as a spokesperson and dealer; it's exciting to see the development and immensely satisfying to play the results.
Since 2008, Folkcraft has introduced a number of new designs, including my signature double-dulcimer, the resonator dulcimer and the Druid Moon line of ukuleles. There's even a solid body electric/MIDI dulcimer being crafted in the Woodburn, Indiana factory for me. American-made and built to last, that's what a mountain dulcimer should be.
That's why I'm proud to say that I'm a Folkcraft artist. Get your hands on one of these amazing instruments and you'll see what I mean!
Vinni Smith (creator of V-Picks) says:
"While at Nashville NAMM last summer, Mrs V and I met a very interesting person. Bing Futch was demonstrating the Dulcimers. Up to that point, I had seen the instrument and even owned one, but did not know its name or that it could produce such wonderful music and tone. Since this meeting, we have become friends with this magnificent artist. He has test driven all of our picks and we have joined forces to produce what we consider to be an EXCELLENT Dulcimer pick. We named it the most logical name we could think of, the V-Pick 'Bing'. Of course, after the player we consider to be one of, if not THE best Dulcimer player on the planet, Bing Futch."
I play V-Picks exclusively and, true to its promise, I have never dropped one during a show due to its cast acrylic design. The sound is clean, clear, louder and easier to make than with any other pick I've used. People swarm my merchandise table to get their V-Picks and, once you've played one, you'll surely know why!
Click on the pick pictures below for more info!
While at the Gateway Dulcimer Festival in August of 2015, I walked into the vendor hall and saw these two gentlemen demoing an odd-looking little instrument that enabled folks to play bass in jams without actually having to learn how to play the bass. At first, it seemed like a novelty toy, but when I sat down to begin playing with it, I quickly realized that it was not only functional but also a fantastic way for people to begin understanding the basics of music theory. I'd been at the festival for all of ten minutes before I plunked down my cash.
Auto Bass creator Dave Senften created the instrument for use in his band and then decided to branch out and offer his creation to others.
Consisting of a body, four nickels, some copper wire and a rotary dial for various keys, players can plug into an amplifier, switch into the key of the current tune and then press their fingers to the wire over each nickel, triggering realistic bass tones. Using scale degrees, the player can then select chords with the left hand while playing appropriate bass notes from each chord with the right. The capability to do bass runs and key changes exists as well.
With a number of body styles and custom designs available, the Auto Bass is one of those "why didn't I think of that?" instruments that comes along every once in a great while. It's innovative, exciting, educational and, above all, FUN. Before I had left the festival, I spoke with Dave at length and it was decided pretty quickly that I'd be happy turning people on to this neat new instrument. I'm now an endorsing artist and dealer for Auto Bass, so watch for me at festivals and concerts where I'll have some of the models on display. If you've ever wanted to play the bass in the jam or your group has always wanted a bass player to keep everyone together, Auto Bass is the instrument for you!