Karl Dietrichs, founder and owner of Bucks County Folk Music in New Britain, PA passed away on May 28. Karl was a talented luthier and with his family ran a really great store. Karl's wife Jackie and daughters Kim and Sarah will continue to operate Bucks County Folk Music.
Hadn't been there in years but it was a neat store. As with so many folks from that era, we are all passing over that threshold to a new dimension eventually.
Karl was a good soul. Would drop in there over the years when my work took me in that direction.
Bought a few instruments off him over the decades. Nice ones at fair prices.
Other times I would go in there. Try a banjo or a guitar or two, ask a million questions and but nothing. Never a problem.
Once I went in there, Karl and I got into a long conversation spanning many subjects. I was waking out and Karl called me back to his counter. Said “ Here, this is for you” Handed me a NOS unopened Scruggs Reuben capo. Said he used to carry them, but he just found this one in a drawer and thought I would like it. Gave it to me for free.
That’s the kind of person he was.
I’ve been a customer of that store for 48 years. Bought my first three banjos there and took many lessons from Bob “Red” Roberts and Dennis Goshow. Karl Dieterichs was a unique and fascinating individual. Loved to talk politics, engineering, economics and shotput or any other subject. I didn’t always agree with him but I could tell he had given the subject careful thought. Jackie, Evelyn, Kim and Sarah have always treated me great. It’s so much fun to go into a store that has such an amazing selection and people who actually know the product they are selling. I hope the family can keep it going for many more years.
So sad to hear of Karl's passing. I bought my first banjo from Karl maybe 40 years ago, and over the years upgraded until it was time for me to get my "rest of my life" banjo. I had some ideas about what I wanted, but then consulted with Karl about all this, and he helped me design the banjo that I've been playing since 1990, a custom Deering Calico. Karl negotiated with the Deering folks about what I wanted, and the end result was and is the best banjo I've ever heard or played. I owe a lot to Karl for this wonderful instrument
Karl also guided us through a number of guitar purchases, and was able to get - for my wife - her "rest of my life" guitar: a wonderful Martin 000-16sgt.
And he maintained and repaired and upgraded our instruments steadily and reliably over the years. Once, he scolded us rather fiercely when we let a guitar dry out and get damaged one winter. He fixed it, but his scolding guaranteed that we would never make that mistake again.
Even after we relocated from Pennsylvania to Vermont, where we live now, we arranged for Karl to do some work on my banjo, and we would always stop by when we were visiting in the area. Karl was always ready to share his encyclopedic knowledge of instruments and the music scene.
In in his early days Karl and Jackie were well known musicians, with a group "The Odes". He was also the principal founder of the Bucks County Folk Song Society, a group that continues to this day, with regular meetings, jams and performances.
Good to hear that Evelyn, Kim, Jackie and Sarah will be continuing in the shop. Sarah is an accomplished luthier and repair person in her own right, and has done some first-rate work for me, including major repairs and a neck reset on a 12 string Martin guitar.
Karl will be greatly missed, but he has left behind a wonderful legacy
I'm sorry to hear about Karl. He was a real character, a good guy and a skilled luthier. He will be missed.
I, too, bought my lifetime banjo from Karl way back in the mid-1980s. He steered me right, and that banjo (a Wildwood Minstrel) has been a workhorse ever since. He also refretted my guitar and did a superb job.
Karl was opinionated and fun to talk to. One time, I brought a Liberty banjo to him with a broken fifth-string pip. In Karl's world, that was a fifth-string nut, not a pip, and he let me know that loud and clear. At the same time, he regaled me with some very entertaining stories about Bob Flesher and the Liberty Banjo Co.
Karl opened his shop in 1966, and the shop was on a dirt road. Let's just say things have built up a little there since then. How many acoustic music shops have stayed in business that long?
In the pre-Internet days, his shop was a godsend. He had a wonderful selection of acoustic-music albums that you wouldn't find at your local record shop. He had tons of good instructional banks. He carried music magazines, and that's where I first encountered the Banjo Newsletter. You could spend hours browsing, and I often did.
Karl's shop was two hours from my home, but I always found the trip well worth it.
Edited by - Joe Connor on 06/02/2023 11:55:40
I am sorry to hear of his passing. I met Karl many times, at his shop and at many events over the years. He always had a story or anticdote to share. He gave me my first lesson on banjo. He demonstrated for me the Scruggs square/in and out roll. It is funny to hear someone mention Karl and shot put. Behind the store there was a shot put “ring/area”. I believe one of his daughters was into field events and Karl built it for her to practice. I also think I heard he coached throwing events for the local high schools.
It makes me sad when I reminisce about all those who have come and gone through my banjo world. Karl was one of those, and unfortunately the list keeps growing. I will stop and think of Karl and all the others I miss playing with.
I'm very sad to read of Karl's passing. Way back in the early 1970s (pre-internet days of snail mail and old fashioned letter-writing) I bought a Bucks County flat head pot assembly from Karl. At that time in the UK, pro-quality banjos were rare as hens' teeth, and having a banjo built here using USA-sourced parts was my best option. As I live in the UK, the transaction was neither easy nor quick, but Karl was extremely patient and helpful, and the assembly eventually arrived on my doorstep. It was of excellent quality, and my luthier built a superb neck and resonator. I played the finished banjo for over 25 years, and it never disappointed me. Eventually, I had the opportunity to buy a Stelling, and sold the Bucks County banjo. I'll always be grateful for Karl's help, and for the high quality of his products. RIP Karl.
Edited by - HSmith on 06/03/2023 00:25:04
Karl was a good friend and a very important piece of my music world. Thanks for so much, ..and all my warmest thoughts to your family. Rest in peace buddy.
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