I recieved my Freshwater mandolin a few weeks ago and wanted to put it to the test before I reported on it...I read people who had their mandos for a couple hours and say they're awesome...but I wanted time for the afterglow of MAS to wear down before telling the board.
OK...tone: very sweet and bright. Not as bright as an F-hole, but brighter than what I was expecting. It cuts through in my acoustic duo nicely. For a solo gig it was very rich and full sounding with a good bottom end (one that probably would be even better if I used heavier strings no doubt).
Sustain: AWESOME. This baby will hold notes for a long time. When playing my solo gig the long notes in the classical pieces I play did not have to be rushed for fear of them dying, thus the tempos could be slowed down on tunes where it sounded better. I am sure the bigger box adds to the sustain, but it is quite amazing.
Electronics: Anyone who gets a Fishman upgrade is being silly. I had some doubts about the system that David said was as good as the Fishman...but he was right. I have a Fishman on another mando and his untit sounds every bit as good. In my rock band it cut through nicely and got me lots of compliments---even from the resident "tone critic" in the band.
Set up: I told David that I like low action and while it still needed some adjustment, it was only a small amount. My luthier was fascinated by the Celtic sound hole, the sustain and the electronics when he did the setup. Once he had played it, he understood why I didn't want to leave it and did the setup in less than 10 minutes.
Other: It smells wonderful...kinda weird huh? Maybe the smell will wear off. It has my name inside of the axe...pretty cool I think.
Overall: David was wonderful to work with. He called from Scotland quite often. However I wish when there were delays he had been in touch more, but as I've said in other post, if you have to wait, you have to wait and it was worth while in the end. And he is a one man operation.
I don't think that you can beat the price for a handmade mando and this one is hard to put down. If you are looking for a mando for blues/celtic/old time/jazz/classical or rock you need to at least take a look at Freshwater. Now back to "Fiona" That's her name...