Mike in Kentucky owns #2486 a beautiful satin finish Comet. WOW!
I have a Rigel R100 Deluxe #2107, an excellent instrument.
Nice! That's a rare one indeed. You should post some pics, I'd love to see it.
#1774 is an A Natural with a number of mods:
Ebony bridge from FQMS when it shipped; upgraded Schaller tuners from Rigel; pickguard from Rigel; internal piezo from Rigel by Rigel. I have pics in the gallery. Just as my grandmother left a mandolin that eventually recieved, I expect that this will be an heirloom instrument.
I had a conversation with Pete regarding how good the A's were....and the problems that presented. He in fact spoke about your very mandolin and how you approached the upgrades.
His point was that you could take the base model, do a few mods, and have a thing of freakin' beauty that would last a lifetime and play perfectly.
What I have noticed about my G5 is that it is completely solid. Not heavy by any measure, but it feels like you could pound nails with it. Also, I have yet to actually find out how loud my mando can go. It doesn't have infinite headroom, but definitely a whole lot.
I am tickled pink that Pete actually referred to my mando in that conversation. It is simply a fabulous instrument. My instructor at the time I acquired it nodded approvingly, calling it "a great base-line professional-grade instrument." I have to say that I was initially neutral on the satin finish on the Nat, and maybe a little pragmatic about the price point. In the end I think it was an incredibly brilliant combination with the Engleman spruce. One savant I defer to calls Engleman "instant gratification that only gets better." The thin satin finish (combined with boatloads of playing) had her open up in an way that started with amazing sound and at this point has incredible tone. I've had pro-pickers players of holy-grail mandolins comment with real appreciation as they've played and/or heard it. Pete's spot on that it's a thing of freakin' beauty that I plan to have last a lifetime playing perfectly. I can appreciate that it was problematic. I got a great price on a shop-worn model, and put about $250 bucks into it. I could likely reclaim every cent if I were ever demented enought to put her on the market. One time I was almost tempted. An R-100 was available at the local dealer for a trade-in and more cash than I had. Oh well.
The build is more than solid. When I A-B'd it with other American shop stuff at the same price point I got the sense it was a much better build. It has an interesting balance point with the weight of the neck being what it is. Add the tone guard on mine, and baby ain't light. Even so, I found out the hard way a few times that the sugar maple on the sides and whatever the headstock is don't need too much to show a ding. Again, oh well. I'd rather have the comfort of the radiused curve sides than not.
Now, headroom is an interesting question, isn't it. I haven't found the top yet either. I've played through house sound for 1500 seat venues which was a real blast. I've played through amps galore--acoustic amps, clean channel on other amps. I find in general the more you push it, the more she likes it and just goes with the flow. The same seems to be the case plugged in. I usually go through a pretty basic Fishman GII preamp and find that it can make huge a difference.
It's interesting to hear that Pete commented on how good the As were. I have an A natural - very basic model in terms of appointments/fittings etc. It's a superb mandolin. I previously had a 1988 Flatiron A til I played the Rigel and sold it almost immediately. I loved the Flatty but the Rigel, for me, is a better instrument in every way. It cost me less than half the amount I sold the Flatiron for.
Clearly I lust after other mandolins but, to be honest, can't imagine there will ever be a point where I need a better instrument. In terms of value for money it's unbeatable. I suspect in part that Rigels are even better value than they would be due to the fact that not everyone likes the more contemporary design (I love it). Whenever I take the mando out people ask me what it's made of and I have to explain it's still wood!
Thanks for posting. I would very much agree as to the overall quality of the Rigel's I've played. My G5 is particular is just a bruiser of a mando. It took awhile to figure out how to play softly as the volume just leaps out of the instrument!
It's also true that some folks don't like the modern stylings. Too bad for them. That's it. Just that.
My wife remarked that mine looks almost unreal. She said she though only plastic could be some detailed and shiny and that wood could not possibly achieve this look.
Will I ever need a better mando? Hardly. I did get mine a Phoenix Jazz to keep it company when I'm away, though!
I'd love to play a few of the higher end Rigel's to see what they're like. I can only imagine how good they are as mine's the 'budget' option and that's pretty special!
Sounds like you're all pretty bullish on Rigels. During the process of deciding and acquiring, did anyone here have occasion to compare them directly to similar models of Breedlove?
I played MANY Breedlove's up and down the line, and I PERSONALLY do not care for the feel of the mandos, as they feel quite light and delicate to me. My Rigel feels solid, but not heavy. It's very comfortable.
I do not like the Breedlove tone either, but that is VERY PERSONAL. they sound boxy and slightly thin except at the very higher end models.
Let me say, I WANTED to like the Breedlove's as I love the design aspects. They're cool as hell. But I just could not get the sound I wanted out of them.
Again, I offer up my OPINIONS only because you asked. I decided on my Rigel only after playing a Brentrup, a Clark, and a Loar LM700. My G5 plays nicer than my Phoenix Jazz, and that's saying a fair bit right there.
I tried a few Breedloves too and really wanted to like them as they look great and seem pretty good value for money. Similarly I could never find one I liked the sound of though - a bit too thin to my ear. I might be slightly biased about the value for money Rigels represent as I bought mine second hand and it cost around the same as a mid level Eastman A
I payed a fair bit for my G5 and am more than happy the value it brought. It feels, plays and sounds like mandos that are more than twice the price.
PLUS, I just really wanted one. It makes me very, very happy. And that's worth something, too, although NOT according to my wife.
Thanks for offering your opinons. We don't have enough retail shops in Denver to be able to play or hear a wide variety so until I can get to a larger festival, opinions is all I can go on. I understand valuing tone is highly subjective, but this is very helpful.
I had a loaner R-100 from the Pgh dealer while he was doing some upgrades. He offered me the axe for mine plus $1600, and that was the only time I have ever been tempted to part with my A Nat. There are a few trad F-5's from some great and even beloved luthiers I'd love to have, but I'd pass on them for the R-200 with no hesitation.
I spent some serious time noodling over a couple of Breedloves (K-O, O-F). I thought they were excellent instruments: light and responsive, great ergonomics and aesthetics, and really good sound. BUT, they just seemed to be missing something on all levels compared to the Rigel. The shop owner affirmed that nice as the lower-end Breedloves are, the Rigel just seems to be more mandolin all the way around. I had to concur. It could well be that some of the newer models are better, and I didn't play on the high end lines. Even so, I've never regretted taking the Rigel over the Breedlove. YMMV
Good to hear from you. I hope your A-nat is in good shape. I spent many hours recently going through a new set of Webers, Yellowstones and Bitteroots, as well as a range of Eastmans and yet again did not find one that was a solid, elegant, responsive or toneful as my G5. It has the basic tone that allows me to get exactly what I want out of it. It requires very little effort. My Rigel also is a pretty good chameleon in that with slight picking changes I can draw many differnt tones out of it.
The Phoenix Jazz ain't bad, though.
My A Nat is in pretty great shape. A couple of dings and string-scratches, etc, but we're still in Exc-/VGC+ condition, especially since it's been well played over the last 8+ years. My dream F-5's are a little more small-shop than Weber; Stiver and Rattlesnake have both been on my radar/wish-list forever. Even so, I'd jump right past them for a Jethro or a G-5 given the opportunity.
Your comment about tonal variety is right on all along the product line. When I first got the A Nat, my instructor said "You know, that's really voiced for bluegrass." Mebbe so, but it's held its own in other genres without doubt: blues, klezmer, reggae, jazz, folk and rock--it handles it all. I'm sure that in the hands of a real classical player it would be no different.
And no, the Phoenix ANYTHING isn't bad at all. ;-)
Have you seen the Rigel Reso in the classifieds?? I am sorely, sorely tempted!!
You mean the one in the G-110 style for $1800? Nope. Never even noticed it was there.
It's actually causing me physical pain. My buddy BLUERIDGEBORN said he was shocked it didn't say "On Hold for Dave" right quick.
Hell, I'm surprised it hasn't said that, too. Much like the G5's, it's not only a rarity, but a good'un, too.
Hi folks, I'm basically a beginner, but picked up a Rigel A-Natural here a year or two ago. I haven't been very active on this forum but am hoping to pick it up over the winter. The comments about the instrument being a chameleon ring true in my very limited experience. I discovered, within hours of tuning it up for the first time, that the A-Natural can sound very different simply by using different picks. I don't know if that's common or unique to this mandolin. I now also have a Flatiron pancake, and I don't notice the big variation on that instrument when swapping picks. Could be just my instruments, but...
Yah, my Phoenix is one hell of an instrument, but it cannot do what my Rigel does.
That's why I have both!!
Greetings from #2280. A special order lefty A+ Deluxe. I love it and it gets a lot of gig time. Really like the compound radius neck and the sleek modern lines.This one has the 'Atomic Sunburst' finish; its basically an orange to red sunburst and not for the timid.
I've had that problem with the tailpiece, where the prongs broke off. After talking with Pete and finding out that the TP not covered in the 'lifetime' warranty I modified the broken one by sawing notches in it, but after about a year I couldn't live with the rugged homemade look of it and ended ordering a new one from Langdel. Each time I remove the TP assembly a bit of the wire from the pu breaks off, I sure hope I don't have to do this too many more times as that wire was quite short to begin and is not getting any longer...to be honest, though, this is the only problem I ever had.
I really like Rigel and my A+ Deluxe is a wonderful fun mandolin. I was sorry to hear that Rigel company folded but I hear Pete is still building and would love to try out his new bass design.
Happily, the mandos are really built to last. The pickup wiring may need an eventual overall, but at that time, if you send it to pete, he can redo the jack to make it near immortal in life-span. The older design was prime at the time, but he's founf something better now. Also, Pete's pround of all those mandos and usually does very affordable work on them. Hell, I change the oil and tune up my car, give my kids vitamins, and have date night with my wife. In comparison, my mando maintenance is cheap, fulfilling anf doesn't argue!!
I understood at one point that the p/u's were pretty basic as far as the electronics themselves; it was the reworked wiring and cleaner contacts, etc. that made such a huge difference. Those simple upgrades of material and workmanship are clearly high-impact. Remember when you put monster cable with gold connectors into your stereo or home theater for the first time? I'm curious about Pete's new design. Dave, anything you can share?
It was almost a year ago when I had this conversation with Pete, but it was something like this. He takes many piezo's, tests them for integrity, performance and output, and then most importantly, takes care in placing them very carefully for maximum balance.
The actual jack itself Pete has found a better version of, and replaced mine at some low-to-no cost out of a sense of pride, I think. He was using the best that was available in 2005, and found something better. Good for him, me, and hopefully us all.
I make my living courtesy of two of Pete's R100s. To me, his 2-point design hits the sweet spot between the warmth required for classical and Celtic and the bite needed to approximate bluegrass. (Even my electric mando is a 2-point: a Weber Maverick 8-string.) My first R100 was off the shelf but my 2nd was custom-made by Pete three years ago and is, to me, the cat's pajamas.
However, the new tailpiece design is a bear to string, given that the string loops have to pass under the tailpiece. My wife devised a pin with a slight hook at the end to pull the loops up from under the tailpiece and over the tongs. But perhaps someone here has a much better scheme, a "duh" tip that will speed up the stringing process.
I'm soon to join you happy Rigel owners, as I have commissioned Pete Langdell to build me a Lyon & Healy Model A replica. Pete has agreed to send photos along the way and I hope to post them. I have about 3 months to wait.
I have not personally had the experience, but everybody says working with Pete is one of life's great pleasures. He is truly a master builder, and cares about the instruments he crafts. He really does like going versions of the older mandos a la L+H, D'Angelico etc.
Please report back with any updates. You have something special coming, I can only think.
Just found this group. I'm the long-term happy owner of G-110 #1750! Apparently the original owner gave it up when he was tired of getting stink-eye at BG jams.
Stinkeye for the G-110? No, it's envy!!
That's a funny thing about some BG'ers and the scrollier than thou attitude. The second reason I bought my G-5 was looks, of course sound was the first, and shouldn't that be what matters?
The alternative shapes bring a little variety into the fairly cookie cutter design choices for mandos.
Dare to be different or at the very least annoy those who don't!
That's certainly my attitude. I did buy it for the looks because it was an Internet purchase, but soundwise, I was instantly pleased and remain that way. I'm lucky enough to live near an excellent acoustic music store which carries higher-end mandolins and haven't found one yet I prefer to the G-110.
I keep meaning to take a portrait of it posed next to my similarly colored Stratocaster.
Yeah, I haven't really haven't found anything i like more either. the caveat is that I am not really interested in the classic BG tone. I want something flexible enough that I can pull different tone out of it depending on what I'm trying to do.
Oh, the two next to each other would be too cool. Do it man!
Dual portrait added to group.
Whew. Now THAT's a dynamic duo. Love the color on the 110.