A latched case mystery

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A latched case mystery

Postby Geekling » Thu Sep 16, 2010 6:04 am

Hi, all! As an anniversary gift, my boyfriend gave me a lovely Folk Roots dulcimer that was sold on consignment at a local folk festival. The dulcimer is in excellent condition, and it plays beautifully, with good intonation at all the frets. It has a 29 1/4" VSL. The soundboard is obviously spruce, and I think the fretboard might be walnut, though I'm not sure.

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Folk Roots Dulcimer

At first, I thought the instrument was probably a few years old, or so, though the case it came in looked quite a bit older. But that was before I discovered that the Rugg & Jackel Music Company listed on the label was the company that produced Folk Roots dulcimers before Folkcraft acquired the brand. From looking at some previous posts, I see that most or all of the pre-Folkcraft Folk Roots dulcimers had their manufacturing date on their label. Mine doesn't seem to have that. All it says is D550S and #430. Though the Folkcraft name is nowhere on the dulcimer, just to deepen the mystery, a Folkcraft pick was included with it (along with another pick and two sets of strings). Was this a clue or a red herring? Is my dulcimer vintage or new? Folk Roots or Folkcraft? Can you solve this mystery? Suddenly, I'm Ellery Queen?

Anyway, I'm dying to know whodunnit (and when). Any information would be greatly appreciated. Thanks! :D
Last edited by Geekling on Thu Sep 16, 2010 3:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: A latched case mystery

Postby BigDaddy1970 » Thu Sep 16, 2010 8:23 am

viewtopic.php?f=9&t=8635

Try the link to this thread. Howard Rugg actually posted and told how to read the serial numbers on his dulcimers. I have one as well, and it was made in October of 1978. If your label says Rugg and Jackel Music then you probably have a vintage.

Enjoy!
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Re: A latched case mystery

Postby kwl » Thu Sep 16, 2010 10:59 am

I agree with BigDaddy1970. If the label says Rugg and Jackel, that's probably what it is. If I recall correctly (something I am doing less and less of :D ) the D550S was a walnut instrument with a spruce top. If Howard sees this he will supply the correct information.

Ken
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Re: A latched case mystery

Postby Geekling » Thu Sep 16, 2010 5:17 pm

BigDaddy1970 wrote:http://everythingdulcimer.com/discuss/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=8635

Try the link to this thread. Howard Rugg actually posted and told how to read the serial numbers on his dulcimers. I have one as well, and it was made in October of 1978. If your label says Rugg and Jackel Music then you probably have a vintage.

Enjoy!


Hi, BigDaddy1970! When I searched the Everything Dulcimer archives for information about Folk Roots dulcimers, I came upon the thread you're referring to. It was extremely helpful, but it also made me wonder if my dulcimer had really been produced by Folkcraft, since its label only had the model number, D550S, and #430 (with no digits after it). But, now that I think about it, 430 could very well be the beginning of a date. Perhaps whoever was writing down the serial number was distracted by something and forgot to write down the rest of the number. With my ADHD, that's the sort of thing I do on a daily basis! ;)

Anyway, if that is the case, then I may never know the exact manufacturing date. But the precise details don't really matter--I already know that I love it! Still, it's so cool to know the history of this wonderful dulcimer. And, to think, it was only $175, including a hard case, two picks, and two sets of replacement strings! Whoever sold this dulcimer must've had no idea what a treasure they had. But, now I do! Thanks for the help! :D
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Re: A latched case mystery

Postby Geekling » Thu Sep 16, 2010 5:39 pm

kwl wrote:I agree with BigDaddy1970. If the label says Rugg and Jackel, that's probably what it is. If I recall correctly (something I am doing less and less of :D ) the D550S was a walnut instrument with a spruce top. If Howard sees this he will supply the correct information.

Ken
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Hi, Ken! Thanks so much for the information about the wood and for helping to confirm that my new Folk Roots dulcimer is vintage! It's not only a beautiful instrument, but it plays beautifully, too! I love it! :D
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Re: A latched case mystery

Postby Geekling » Thu Sep 16, 2010 6:49 pm

kwl wrote:I agree with BigDaddy1970. If the label says Rugg and Jackel, that's probably what it is. If I recall correctly (something I am doing less and less of :D ) the D550S was a walnut instrument with a spruce top. If Howard sees this he will supply the correct information.

Ken
"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."


Hi, again! I just went back and reread the thread BigDaddy1970 linked to. In one post, Howard Rugg said, "In 1979, we started the solid wood dulcimers. The dulcimers had their model
# (D-500 S) and a # (001) etc. These numbers were listed in a log book with the date it was assembled. I have this book. If you have a solid wood FolkRoots made by R&J I can tell you what day it was assembled." So, if Howard Rugg doesn't see this thread--I should've put Folk Roots in the title!--perhaps I'll ask him directly.

At the time I read his post, I wasn't sure if this also included D550S, which could've been a later model. Elderly Instruments is selling new Folk Roots dulcimers with the same model number. In any case, I promptly forgot about the post. That'll teach me to read posts in the wee hours when I should be in bed! ;)
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Re: A latched case mystery

Postby Howard Rugg » Wed Sep 22, 2010 2:31 pm

It looks like a Folk Roots we made. However the mystery continues. The last D550S W/extra fret and F heart holes was made 12-5-83, and was #066.
There are 2 others like this, #056 and #057. The last D550 made by us was a D550ST #187 made 9-11-89. I would assume it's a Folkcraft. Its beautyful. I am proud to have my name on it.

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Re: A latched case mystery

Postby Howard Rugg » Wed Sep 22, 2010 2:37 pm

PS It is solid walnut with a spruce top.

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Re: A latched case mystery

Postby Geekling » Thu Sep 23, 2010 5:47 pm

Howard Rugg wrote:It looks like a Folk Roots we made. However the mystery continues. The last D550S W/extra fret and F heart holes was made 12-5-83, and was #066.
There are 2 others like this, #056 and #057. The last D550 made by us was a D550ST #187 made 9-11-89. I would assume it's a Folkcraft. Its beautyful. I am proud to have my name on it.

Howard


Hi, Howard! Thanks so much for taking the time to help me! Anyway, that's certainly an interesting plot twist! And, it would explain why a Folkcraft pick was included with the dulcimer. So, it looks like Folkcraft continued using the Rugg & Jackel Music Company labels, at least for a while. I don't blame them. When I searched the Everything Dulcimer archives, I came across this quote from pristine2, "The 29 1/4" VSL Folkroots is a classic instrument that stands the test of time," and I'd have to agree with him.

In any case, I loved the dulcimer when I thought it was recently manufactured by Folkcraft, and it's even cooler to learn that it's vintage. And, it's all because you designed such a superb dulcimer! Thanks! :D
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Re: A latched case mystery

Postby peeteey » Wed Apr 13, 2011 2:50 am

Hi folks, I stumbled across this excellent site and even better thread whilst searching for some info on my newly acquired dulcimer!
I knew nothing about it until I came in here. It's exactly the same as the one in this thread as far as I can tell. A D550S.

Mines #111 and I think has the original case and even a spare set of strings.
What is even cooler is that inside the string packet I found polaroids taken, I'm assuming, inside their workshop as they were making the dulcimer.

I've put some photos up over here:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/hairybassman/

Would love to find out about it. I'll send this to Howard too, hope he's still checking this site!

Cheers for any info and G'day from New Zealand!

Pete
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Re: A latched case mystery

Postby kwl » Wed Apr 13, 2011 1:31 pm

Pete, that's totally cool. It sure looks like the folks from the early days of Folkroots. Howard Rugg is on ED and may chime in here. What a great find!

Ken
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Re: A latched case mystery

Postby Howard Rugg » Wed Apr 13, 2011 1:48 pm

Hi peeteey
I solved the mystery. I have more D550S listed further on in the book. This dulcimer was assembled 12-19-85. Thats me holding the parts. These were hand selected for their figure. It must have been special made, altho I made no special notes in my book. I don't know why. I will put the notes in today. The picture of the guy standing next to the bench must have been the origional owner. Great photos. Thats the heart hole jig for cutting heart holes.

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