Here are the first public pictures I'm aware of the prototype of the Grisman/Eastman project Lyon and Healy Mandola. It was hoped this instrument would be at the NAMM show in January but it didn't make it in time. I made enough of a pest about wanting to see it that they agreed to ship it to me for evaluation. We took these pictures today. This is the third in the series of instruments out of David Grisman's collection where Eastman takes a model and makes a "signature" copy. Previous models included versions of David's Corrado Giacomel and Bacon Artist mandolins.
I don't have a lot of experience with L&H mandolas, but I have played a fair number of their mandolins and find them to be exceptional instruments. Sadly, I wish more builders made copies of this line as they're fine instruments with a wonderful sound.
What I know about the instrument: first off, this is not a press release and I don't have access to specs, measurements, woods used, etc. I'm more interested in evaluating the construction, attention to fine detail, sound, and overall impression of the instrument. When I pick up an instrument, I want to know if it sounds like one I want to own and use for gigs.
What I was told: this is a copy of David's original brown-faced Lyon & Healy Style mandola with a slimmer neck. The neck on the next prototype will be even a bit slimmer than this I was told, and the angle of the neck will be a bit more acute to enable a bit more bridge height, ie., a bit easier to play and have more bite is the goal in mind. The neck is quite a beast, I'll agree, but most vintage mandola necks are, and I applaud this minor change.
Sound-wise this is a deeply rich sounding instrument, well balanced, and set-up well--fun to play and sounds marvelous. I'm guessing these are D'Addario J76 strings which are my normal choice. The workmanship is pretty much flawless, not unlike what I've witnessed on the Giacomal and Bacon models. Really, the only thing missing is a replica copy of the Lyon and Healy tailpiece, and I've often wondered why no one has ever attempted one. How many of those beautiful old models are missing their tailpiece? Plenty, and that's a shame. Maybe this will be the start of that changing.
While not set in stone, I was told the ballpark retail price will be around $2,895. That's about all I know. Mass Street Music took some of their own pictures of this last week and will likely be posting those this coming week. Enjoy the view. I'm sure enjoying the experience, and yes, I'd love to own it.