Dear Cafe Friends,
Recently I was in Nashville to see a show at the Ryman Auditorium (The Gibson Brothers, Steep Canyon Rangers, and The Roys....great show, but I digress). I had the opportunity to spend a few minutes in Gruhn's, albeit with my wife and a host of friends...so this review will lack the usual fine detail I usually include.
Gruhn’s Description: NM, red spruce top, beautifully figured curly maple back, sides and neck, varnish finish, radius ebony fingerboard with medium-size frets, ebony headstock overlay, fully bound body, neck and headstock with ivoroid and purfling, silver Waverly tuners with ivoroid buttons, silver James tailpiece, natural top finish, walnut finish on back and sides, leather Reunion Blues gig bag and leather strap.
This is an absolutely stunning mandolin. It has a natural finish top and a dark Sheridan brown finish on the back, sides, and neck. The wood in the back, sides and neck is absolutely stunning. It is not typical flamed maple, its is not typical big leaf maple, it is not typical Birdseye maple….let’s just call it quilted maple. It is some of the prettiest wood I’ve ever seen. While the natural top and brown back, sides, and neck finish might not appeal to everyone, I found it very attractive. The mandolin is fully bound and features a fleur-de-lis on the headstock and a beautiful Poe script inlaid. It has a bound ebony pickguard. See photos here.
Fit and Finish
Andrew Poe’s work (http://www.poestrings.com/PoeStrings/Home.html) is not the subject of extensive discussion here on the Café, but I can tell you that the fit and finish from this young build are absolutely top notch. While my time with this instrument was brief, I was very impressed wit the fit and finish from top to bottom. Little details abound, such as the dot markers being made from the same beautifully flamed wood used on the back. Carving of the f-holes is perfect and the binding was excellent throughout. Inlay was expertly done. Finish was smooth and extremely clean. Waverly tuners…smooth as silk.
When you pick up a mandolin it usually doesn’t take you very long to determine if it has the “it” factor. Let me say right off the bat…this Poe has the “it” factor in both tone and volume. The tone of this mandolin is intoxicating….it just has a gorgeous voice. I would place the tone clearly in the Loar-camp with very strong mid-range presence and excellent lower registers. It has excellent note separation up and down the neck. The volume was very strong with a very bold and throaty chop. Like better mandolins, the power on the chops was just as good at one end of the neck as the other. This mandolin doesn’t give up anything to my MT2v…which I place on a very high pedestal! I loved the sound of this mandolin!
While my time with the Poe was brief, all that need be said with regard to playability is the setup was perfect…I had no problem moving up and down the fretboard. Noting required minimal finger pressure and the intonation as excellent.
I don’t think one could find a better value in a small shop builder.
Again my thanks to Calvin and Billy for allowing me to review this instrument.