View Full Version : Weber Mandolins
I played one of these a couple of weeks ago, and loved the tone. The playability was quite nice, too. Anyone else own one of these that wants to comment on their quality? I've heard that the makers are former mandolin luthiers for Gibson.
The mando I have now, an Epiphone, is nice, but constantly falls out of tune. Also, I'm looking for something with a brighter tone.
Webers are very well made. Yes, Bruce Weber and some of the others at Sound to Earth used to own/work at Flatiron, which was bought by Gibson. They did make the Gibson mandolins before the move to Nashville. As I understand it, Bruce Weber and some of the others went to Nashville to help with the transition but returned to Montana to start Sound to Earth.
Many people on the board love Webers. Others are less enchanted with them. The Webers that have impressed me have been oval holes and/or mahogany backs.
They are very well made by a company that gives great customer service. I don't think anyone would argue with that.
steve in tampa
I got to play several at a festival this spring and a couple of days later ordered a highly customized Bitterroot. Recently aquired a used Fern through the classifieds. I am very happy with both of them. They are very different sounding, but very consistant playing.
If you want for a brighter tone, look at ones with the maple back and sides. The mahogany has a little darker tone. The oone one the right has a maple Brekke bridge, and that brightens the tone some. the Fern has the traditional Brekke.
My experience in having one built with the options I wanted was great. The folks at Weber are great to deal with, and put out a quality product. Our local Weber dealer, Ken Bailey Music, is also a pleasure to deal with.
John M. Riley
I once upon a time had a Weber Yellowstone custom and later a Fern Custom. They were both had the most beautiful woode and finish I had ever seen, but something about the sound and playablity just didnt do it for me and I sold them both.
I think they respond best to a heavy hand. A light touch doesn't seem sufficient to get the sound out of them. They're different from other mandolins. It's really a personal call whether that difference is a good or bad thing. Although "try before you buy" is always good advice, it might be even more relevant to instruments like this that have their own particular feel and sound. I bought one a while back and nearly sent it back. After lowering the action and giving it a bit of time, it sounded much more to my liking. But it's not the first instrument I reach for. Partly, that's because it doesn't achieve its best with the first pass of the pick. If I played it more this might change. It's hard to explain. I really like it when I actually pick it up and play it but it just doesn't call out to me the way some other instruments have. Fit and finish are impeccable.
Bill Van Liere
I still don't get it
I have to agree with Bob DeVellis. He and I have the same type of mandolin (a Bighorn D hole) and it took me a long time to get involved with this mandolin. I had to lower the action and change the strings (now using a set of LaBella JM11s from Ted E.) before the instrument started to sing to me. One of the problems was the overall sound. I was not used to a carved D hole mandolin that didn't sound like a Gibson A model. In addition I had to find the right pick (Dunlop 207) that complimented my style. Last of all, I found that this instrument plays jazz very well and is only fair with Irish music (my original intent, but it never blended in well in a session.) I have added a McIntyre feather pickup and am playing it in local jazz jams (I am still learning but it is fun) and it really sounds good either amplified or in a mike.
Every Weber I have played has a tighter-than-Gibson sound that may not appeal to all. When I bought my Bighorn I A/B'd it against every other oval hole mandolin in Spruce Tree Music (Madison, www.sprucetreemusic.com they are having their 25th anniversary on Dec 4) and it was the clear winner. A lot of this "tightness" may be the fact that Webers seem to project forward more than Gibsons. I have listened to one Fern that blew me away but when I played it the tight sound seemed to be there. So the subjective sound may be a function of where I am at the time.
Right now I am playing the Bighorn a lot trying to learn "Minor Swing" and copying Benny Goodman licks from my dad's old records. It is a lot of fun to play once I lowered the action and put on flatwound strings. I would say that if you acquire a Weber, you need to explore the entire gamut of setup before you decide it is not for you.
I'm a Yellowstone owner/player. To answer your question about quality is easy - it's top-shelf. I play it every day for a couple hours - I find that as I develop better technique the instrument can handle every nuance of my playing.
Regarding the tone I remember being overwhelmed when I first got it. Right out of the box it sounded really pretty. But as I listened to more and more mandolin music I found myself wanting a different tone. I tried (almost) every type of string and pick combination but last weekend I changed the bridge and now I'm really pleased. It definitely doesn't sound like a Gibson but it's got a nice bluegrassy tone with the new bridge (Cumberland Acoustics). After I own a few more mandos I may go back to the Brekke. I still have a ton to learn but I doubt that I'll be selling this one. It's become a pretty good buddy and it is really nice to look at - like art. Hope this helps. I'm hesitant to give an opinion since I've changed my mind about a lot of things over the past couple years but I can't imagine being dissatisifed with a Weber product.
They built a Yellowstone to my specs out of koa, and I couldn't be happier. It's my first mandolin, and it's been great to learn on such a beautiful instrument. I love the sound, and the workmanship is top notch.
And they have outdone themselves with their archtop guitars.
steve in tampa
Got to play thre first Bitterroot guitar that was made, and had a hard time putting it down! Very different tone and feel from any of our Gibsons or Martins. Very clean chording up the neck and great resonance.
I have played several different models of Weber mandolins, and some of the finished ones sounded tight, but all of them played exremely well, and were very consistant in that aspect.
Why is this thread in the builders section?
Michael H Geimer
Perhaps the original poster didn't quite realize how many *actual* builders hang out in this section. Perhaps 'builder' and 'manufacturer' were confused a little.
'Weber' is a builder if you look at it a certain way, but I see your point.
... who's picking on his Custom Bitterroot this morning
... enjoying its fine new Cumberland Bridge
I had a cedar toped Weber Yellowstone from Greg Boyd and did not like the neck but the tone was killer.
I agree with Dave that this post really belongs on the info about instruments board... but the poster was clearly new to mando cafe and didn't know.
Humboldt- if you're reading... take some time to explore the various areas of the board to get a sense of the best places to put specific topics...thanks, and welcome.
I have a Weber Fern, fantastic looking and good sounding instrument. But I had several problems with it, some more serious, although all fixable: neck warpage, disintegrating lacquer. I did not get timely responses to my problems (Paula at one point even said something like Bruce Weber is too busy), so I had them fixed locally and paid for it myself. So lifetime warranty may not buy you anything here. Maybe the instrument just needed to get over its childhood illnesses, but the Weber support was very disappointing. Many posts say how good their support is, but that generally refers to communicaton prior to sales.
They wouldn't help you out with a warped neck? That's very surprising to hear given the numerous posts raving about Weber's customer service. If that had happened to me, I would have raised a huge stink about it!
That's strange to hear about the support. I callec complaing about G-string buzz, and Paula todl me to promptly mail her my Weber and it would be taken care of.
All Paula indicated was the luthiers had to determine whether it was a bad nut, or whther I wore it out. It was only eight months after owning it, so she couldn't be sure what they'd see.
I just had to pay for shipping. Paula was awesome about it.
I will add that I had some tone questiosn for Bruce once, and Paula printed the questions and put them on Bruce's desk. He never got back to me. So, I emailed Steve Gilchrist for the same information and Steve emailed back the next day.
The one mandolin that had me drooling at the IBMA was the Chad Fadely model Yellowstone at Greg Boyd's booth. Specifically the one with the antiqued binding. #To my eyes it was the best looking mandolin there. #Sound wise it just didn't seem to have the volume that the Gibson's had, although the tone was good. #If I could be certain it would wake up some day down the road it would be number one on my to buy list .
There's a joke about Takemine guitars that every guitar player who moves to Nashville is issued one. That is to say, sort of omnipresent. Where I live, that seems to be the way it is with Webers. Very well made, great service, from what I hear, some models good at getting a very woody tone, and most of my mandolin-playing friends have one, but I wouldn't trade my cheaper hand-made Ratliff R5 or Summit A5 for their instruments. Mine are louder and sound much better, to MY ears, both from the playing position and the listening position. But definitely good instruments.
Chad's design was good for the Yellowstone. David Grisman tryed mine when I had it and said the neck was to wide for his hand.I agreed and traded it weeks later for a Collings MF5 upgrade.