Folkcraft Player - Sam Edelston
It took me 30 years to be willing to try something with only 3 strings and too few frets. I preferred playing fancy stuff on fingerstyle guitar or, later, hammered dulcimer. But, when I became chair of the nascent Nutmeg Dulcimer Festival, I decided to get acquainted with the other side of the family, bought one, and quickly discovered it could play songs like Mellow Yellow and Bang a Gong. I call this my “Green Eggs and Ham moment.”
The surprise is, with only 3 strings, it’s easier to play complex music, because you always have a couple of extra fingers available. I often play melody together with distinct accompaniment. And on chromatic dulcimer, you can jam with guitarists in any key. I’ve come to believe that dulcimers are a more logical first stringed instrument than guitars.
I play mostly a wide variety of rock and pop songs, but also classical, Scruggs-style bluegrass, or whatever catches my ear. In 2014, in a stroke of cosmic good luck, my YouTube cover of Led Zeppelin’s Whole Lotta Love, on electric dulcimer with a bunch of effect pedals, went viral. In 2019, I was lucky enough to go viral again, covering The Ramones’ I Wanna Be Sedated.
Usually, I play either chromatic or semi-chromatic (0+, 1+, 6+, 8+, 13+ frets). The latter gives me lots of chords and notes, but is simple enough that I can play without thinking.
In 2019, I wanted a special dulcimer that would really suit my style: Short fretboard so I could reach more chords, CGC tuning to fit my voice, and chromatic. And, most importantly, I wanted the best pickups, which meant it had to be a Folkcraft – I remembered Richard Ash’s Facebook posts from when he was developing the pickups. Richard helped me design it. Light strings make it relaxing to play. I’ve already used it in several videos on YouTube.
Last year, I became a full-time musician, with a goal to bring dulcimer music to the general public. I perform locally, across the country, and online (more than a dozen online festivals during the pandemic). Upcoming in-person appearances include the Pocono Dulcimer Festival, Kentucky Music Week, Nutmeg, and elsewhere. I also teach courses and private lessons online. Visit www.SamTheMusicMan.com for details.
Happy playing, everyone!