View Full Version : Sargent mandolin
We acquired a 1987 Cliff Sargent mandolin a few months ago and I started a thread awhile back asking some questions about Cliff’s mandolins. I received lots of feedback and it has been heart warming that while I did not have the opportunity to meet Cliff, so many of his friends have been willing to share their experiences and knowledge about him and his mandolin building with me. I sincerely appreciate everyone’s help.
Unfortunately, this mandolin has had the worst done to it with respect to wear and tear, “random hippie sanding” to bare wood, original hardware was gone, loose and missing binding, headstock whittling, fingerboard has been radiused and re-fretted, and so on. I thought about trying to do spot repairs but made the tough decision to completely restore and refinish it. I’ve had quite a few requests to see pictures of it when finished and I thought others may be interested as well so here are a few pictures.
To recap the restoration work; replaced missing and re-glued binding that was loose, repaired large notches that were cut into the headstock, installed ebony overlay on the back of the headstock, made an ebony TR cover and bridge saddle, installed new Gold hardware, re-stained and applied oil varnish and shellac French polish finish (finish was originally lacquer).
Here's the new, engraved, Bill James tailpiece. Thanks Bill.
Wow Gail, that looks a lot better than when Cliff had it. He was a master at making things look old, but you have made it look new and vibrant. The clarity and warmth of the color is beautiful.
WOW!!!!!!! (Excellent, Smithers)
Really, really nice..
Very very nice job Gail. Cliff would be proud http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif
Definately eye candy for the soul.Great work!! Lp
Cliff was a sweet man, who loved mandolins, I hope the restored man'alin sounds sweet too.......
Very nice work Gail!
Can you get a shot of it in the pink chair? # http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif
For all the guys out there afflicted with MAS, imagine being married to Gail. "Another one! Thanks honey, just set it over there with the others."
[QUOTE]For all the guys out there afflicted with MAS, imagine being married to Gail. "Another one! Thanks honey, just set it over there with the others."
HA! That's a good one.
Most impressive work!
Now that's a great job Gail, being a luthier myself I can appreciate a good job of repair and you have completed a needy instrument into a work of art. Having known Cliff, I say that he would be very proud of what you have done to his mando, let us know if it has that tone he always talked about. Congratulations on a job well done Ron
What a wonderful tribute to a luthier who lived and breathed replicating Loar era mandolins and better yet to such a great guy as Cliff. I will join with others who were Cliff's friends in approval and applauding you for a job well done.
Amazing job Gail! Could you post up the "before" photos (or a link to the previous thread)?
Thanks so much for all the wonderful comments. I’m a little relieved since I thought I might catch it for refinishing this mandolin. I’m particularly touched by Cliff’s friends who have commented that he would approve since this one had special meaning and was more than just a refinish job to me.
As to how it sounds, this is a great sounding mandolin and I’ll be studying this one for a long time trying to figure out how he did it. If there is an old and a modern sound as many have described in different threads, this Sargent definitely has the old sound. It is loud and dark and balanced in general but the midrange is what blows me away. The bass is clean and loud but not overpowering. When you strum the open strings they sound balanced but when you play it the “D” and “A” strings just pop out. I’m not sure how else to describe it other than throaty.
Here are some before pictures as requested and Bill, it just didn’t look good in the pink chair. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif
Here's one showing the notches that were cut into the headstock so that the upside down tuners would turn. Notice the piece of binding filling that hole in the back of the neck.
This shows the headstock repair consisting of carefully cut pieces of sugar maple and hyde glue.
I’m a little relieved since I thought I might catch it for refinishing this mandolin.
Some things just need to be refinished.
Job well done!
Gail, was there no veneer on the back of the headstock? or maybe it was removed. Most all of Cliff's mandolins that I have seen have had black veneers on the backs of the headstocks. The shot of the back of the neck looks like maybe someone "re shaped" the transition into the headstock. It's hard to tell from a pic on the computer.
Michael, there was a veneer of something stained black, maybe Pear wood? It had been sanded back and was out of shape as you pointed out. I leveled it and added ebony overlay the thickness I needed to bring it back to Loar dimensions. Here’s a picture of the finished back.
Cliff used the thin dyed pearwood from LMI. One sheet on the back and 3 sheets layered in opposide grain directions for the face.
That workmanship is just off the charts - unbelieveable restoration based on those "before" fotos. Could someone illuminate the newbs out here who Cliff Sargent was? I'm not able to make the connection between his name and Gibson.
Thanks in advance.
Milan, here's a link.
Cliff was a first generation Blue grasser, a treasure to all who knew him, became a luthier later in life and was passionate about mandolins. He owned a 1924 Loar F5 which he used as a model for the mandolins he built.
He was in the process of begining to build mandolins under his own brand, The Sierra, when he passed. From the website, “Cliff's mandolins can be heard on recent recordings by Ronda Vincent. Ronnie McCoury considers Cliff as "one of the great mandolin builders out there today" and Frank Wakefield believes The Sierra's sound "is as good as it gets".
Please forgive my ignorance. If the mandolin in the picture is a Sargent, why is there "The Gibson" on the headstock?http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/rock.gif
why is there "The Gibson" on the headstock?http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/rock.gif
Mr. Sergeant tried to copy his Loar down to the last detail as a tribute to Gibson. He put labels inside that made it clear they weren't Gibsons. I believe a couple of years ago, Mr. Derrington met him at IBMA and kindly let him know that he shouldn't do that anymore, which is why "The Sierra" mandolin came about.
Gail,the mando looks amazing! What did you mean saying this one was special ? Did you mean it was special to Cliff?...Kerry
Krishna, I have been told that Cliff had said that this mandolin was a real good one but this is the only one of his mandolins I’ve seen and it may be very typical of his work, I don’t know. #It’s hard for me to explain exactly what I meant without sounding too sentimental but I'll try. #Even before we acquired this mandolin I had become fascinated with the “legend” of Cliff’s mandolins and began researching, collecting information, talking and writing to his friends and got to the point that I felt that I knew him. #Having gained so much respect and knowing that there are only about thirty of his mandolins, this restoration just had some added meaning for me personally and that is what I meant by "special". I guess I'm a sentimental girl. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif
Very nice that there are folks in the world who are willing to further the legacy of another. Congratulations on your spirit.
This mandolin on eBay is supposedly possibly a Sargent:
<a href="http://cgi.ebay.com/Older-Gibson-mandolin-F5-style-Fern_W0QQitemZ300163887317QQihZ020QQcategoryZ10179 QQssPageN
ameZWDVWQQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem" target="_blank">Sargent mandolin?</a>