Karl Dieterichs opened Bucks County Folk Music Shop in 1966 in an old farmhouse in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. More than 50 years later, we are still in the same location and Karl is still at the helm.
We are proud to say that we are the oldest acoustic stringed instrument store in America with the same owner and operator since we first opened.
Back in the ‘60s and ‘70s you may have visited our “store away from home” at folk and bluegrass festivals up and down the East Coast; heard Karl, his wife Jackie and their group The Odes perform; or placed an order through our catalogue by sending us (gasp!) a letter. And if you visited our store “back in the day” you were helped by knowledgeable staff with a real love of folk and bluegrass music.
And if you visit us today you will still find us knowledgeable (heck, some of us are the same people!) with a real love for what we do. A few of the things that make our store unique are:
Our long-term, very knowledgeable employees (see Our Staff, below)
Our extensive, on-site Repair Facility
Our on-site Manufacturing Facility, Buck Musical Instrument Products, where we hand-craft instruments and instrument accessories
We don’t just sell the items you see in our store, we also play them, repair them, and even make some of them.
Karl Dieterichs – Founder/Owner, Repairs, Manufacturing, Appraisals, Retail
Karl is the founder and owner of Bucks County Folk Music Shop. His love of folk and bluegrass music began as a young adult in (what was then) rural Bucks County, PA, when he happened upon a bluegrass radio program. After hearing that program, Karl’s passion was ignited and after months of searching he found a banjo for sale. It was in pieces. With no banjo repair person in sight, Karl put his engineering skills to work and repaired the instrument himself. And because he couldn’t find a banjo teacher, he taught himself to play by listening to bluegrass records that he slowed down on his record player.
Karl later started a folk & bluegrass group called The Odes who performed regularly for over 15 years up and down the East Coast, including weekly on a local television program, The World Around Us. Karl also founded the Bucks County Folk Song Society in the early ‘60s. During this time Karl got to know many folks in and around the Philadelphia region (and beyond) who shared his love for traditional music. He saw a need for a store that specialized in folk and bluegrass, thus Bucks County Folk Music Shop was born.
What sets Karl apart from many music store owners are his numerous and varied skills. An accomplished musician, Karl plays banjo, guitar, mandolin, autoharp and upright bass. Karl also has an extensive background in mechanical engineering, which he puts to use each day in our repair and manufacturing facilities. And he is a gifted craftsperson and luthier, skilled with his hands.
Karl’s motto is “Do it right the first time.” which he followed when he started Bucks County Folk Music and still follows to this day.
Jackie Dieterichs – Owner, Repairs, Retail, Manufacturing
Jackie is co-owner of Bucks County Folk Music Shop and is also Karl’s wife of over 40 years. As a young girl Jackie was given a Gene Autry guitar as a gift, which she played so much her fingers would bleed. Fast forward to high school where, along with two others, Jackie started The Jay Walkers, a popular folk trio who recorded a 45 during the hey-day of the Cameo/Parkway record label (home to the likes of Chubby Checker and Bobbie Rydell). In 1964 Jackie became the newest member of Karl’s folk and bluegrass group The Odes, where she traveled up and down the East Coast and later made regular appearances on a television show. In 1966 she helped Karl open Bucks County Folk Music Shop and became our first guitar teacher, a position she held on and off for over 20 years. In 1968 she won Best Solo Folk Singer at the Smoky Mountain Folk Festival in Tennessee. During the ‘70s and ‘80s Jackie took time off to raise two daughters, although she continued to teach guitar and autoharp and would perform in and around Bucks County. In the ‘90s Jackie began working in our manufacturing facility; making bodhrans, beaters (tippers), instrument straps, and Native American instruments. Jackie also works in our repair facility and retail store.
Karl says, “Jackie has put endless hours of dedication and hard physical labor into the rebuilding, maintenance, and upkeep of our many buildings – not to mention our landscaping, our Buck products, and customer repairs. She is also one fine flatpick guitarist with a voice that will melt a wall of ice.”
Evelyn Dryburgh – Store Manager, Retail, Mail Orders
Evelyn has been with Bucks County Folk Music Shop since the mid-1990s and had worked at two other independent music stores for prior to that. Music has always been a part of Evelyn’s life - one of her earliest memories is happily singing while swinging on a swing. She has been playing guitar since the age of 16 and took up playing the whistle in 2004. Evelyn also dabbles in the mountain dulcimer and fiddle. At one time, Evelyn was seen on a regular basis performing folk, Celtic and children’s music with various music groups. A long-time member of the Philadelphia Folk Song Society, she has attended the Philadelphia Folk Festival almost every year of her adult life.
Karl says, “Evelyn is the glue that holds our inventory and ordering together. She knows our inventory, from picks to instruments, better than anyone. Always early to arrive and answers phone calls with an endless understanding of this business. Our regular customers all know her or her voice.”
Kim Dieterichs – Office, Website, Computer, Retail