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View Full Version : Visit to Paul Shippey Mandolins (Somerset UK)



Rob Beck
Nov-25-2013, 12:21pm
I went to visit Paul Shippey today to try out some of his mandolins with a view to commissioning one to commemorate turning 50 earlier this month. I have never commissioned a build before, so it was pretty exciting stuff. I have read lots of good reviews about Paul's mandolins but have never played one and I was amazed (and that's not an exaggeration) by the volume of the A5 (on the left - if a manage to attach a picture!) there is a 16 month lead time on his mandolins, but Paul has said he will send me pictures of the build as it progresses, if any one is interested I will post them here, but it won't start for about a year. I also cannot close without saying what a great guy Paul was, it felt like popping round to see an old friend :o)

Ron McMillan
Nov-25-2013, 12:25pm
The man's reputation is well-earned. Is the A5 on the left larger-bodied than the middle mandolin, or is that just an illustion created by the camera?

What did you order? The oval hole A4 looks gorgeous. Must have been a tough decision.

Please do share progress reports.


ron

Rob Beck
Nov-25-2013, 12:33pm
It must be an artefact of my poor photography skills Ron! As all three were the same size. The middle one is still in progress, but has a cedar top, so Paul let me try it out to hear the difference between spruce and cedar. It really was a tough discussion but not one I'm going to complain about!

cayuga red
Nov-25-2013, 2:22pm
I went to visit Paul Shippey today to try out some of his mandolins with a view to commissioning one to commemorate turning 50 earlier this month. I have never commissioned a build before, so it was pretty exciting stuff. I have read lots of good reviews about Paul's mandolins but have never played one and I was amazed (and that's not an exaggeration) by the volume of the A5 (on the left - if a manage to attach a picture!) there is a 16 month lead time on his mandolins, but Paul has said he will send me pictures of the build as it progresses, if any one is interested I will post them here, but it won't start for about a year. I also cannot close without saying what a great guy Paul was, it felt like popping round to see an old friend :o)

Paul is truly one of the greats!

Dave Hanson
Nov-26-2013, 3:30am
Without a doubt Paul is one of the best builders in the UK if not Europe.

Dave H

Rob Beck
Nov-26-2013, 5:37am
I'm very happy to read your positive reviews of Paul's work, it pretty much tallies with what I saw with my own eyes yesterday! I did research Paul's mandolins before arranging to visit, but it's great to hear all of your views as well, thank you very much!

GarY Nava
Nov-26-2013, 10:46am
Always good see UK luthiers promoted!
Cheers Gary

Lord of the Badgers
Dec-04-2013, 1:14pm
Paul is a friend of a friend. Always admired his mandolins. However I'm not as patient as you Robbie! Can't wait to see the results :)

I shall be using another UK Luthier, Phil Davidson for my first commission. He's been great to me with my 19yr old one of his, so it was an easy choice for me as he's top bloke. An A Style with F holes it is... and some interesting inlays too. Off to talk turkey on Saturday.

Rob Beck
Dec-08-2013, 6:22am
Paul is a friend of a friend. Always admired his mandolins. However I'm not as patient as you Robbie! Can't wait to see the results :) I shall be using another UK Luthier, Phil Davidson for my first commission. He's been great to me with my 19yr old one of his, so it was an easy choice for me as he's top bloke. An A Style with F holes it is... and some interesting inlays too. Off to talk turkey on Saturday. I actually rather like the idea of the wait Your Lordship (or may I call you Mr Badgers? - There should be a smiley here, but I can't get it to work from my phone! ) it all adds to the excitement! I have heard of Phil Davidson too I think I first saw his name associated with Hobgoblin mandolins, as Ivan Kessel mentioned in another thread recently. My current mandolin is an Ashbury, although not one of those designed by Phil. I'd certainly be interested in seeing photos yours when it is finished.

Lord of the Badgers
Dec-08-2013, 9:06am
It's on order now Rob (or will be when I transfer the deposit later on :)
What I like about Phil in this is that he's genuinely excited by my ideas for it, great to see - so there's been a bit of horse trading over details, I'm having some cool inlays on the headstock and a bit of engraving (by a gun engraver) on the tailpiece. The finish is largely my idea, the woods, his, the motifs decided between me, him, and his wife Fiona. I like the guy very much so that's kind of how I wanted to play it :)
But that's no disservice to Paul - I know his reputation is deservedly up there, certainly Phil speaks very highly of him. In a way, I fought shy of going to see Paul; cause I know I'd end up being horribly indecisive!

Maybe, one day, I'll get a 10-string Shippey when I go to replace the oval hole mandolin, just to spread the UK Luthier love a bit! That particularly is important to me - the engraver is in Brum too, so it's all good.

The only item I could not thoroughly decide on was pickups, but went for K&K. If I'd had an oval hole mando, I'd have gone for headway.

(from another Rob :) )

can't wait to see yours though!

I'll start a thread of the progress when underway on mine.

Darren Bailey
Dec-08-2013, 9:19am
Getting back to the picture - that oval hole is stunning, the shape and shade really caught my eye.

Rob Beck
Dec-08-2013, 9:23am
Getting back to the picture - that oval hole is stunning, the shape and shade really caught my eye. There are some really cool pictures of the ovals on his website at http://www.paulshippey.co.uk/index.htm Darren, but don't go there, it leads to bad places! (For your bank balance!)

Lord of the Badgers
Dec-08-2013, 12:24pm
Certainly the photos are beautifully lit and taken. the Shippey website is rather splendid. Of his ovals I like the black one or the chestnut coloured 10 string. Lovely

he used to do some electro ones - v nice too http://www.paulshippey.co.uk/electric%20mandolin/black-elec-2.jpg

Denman John
Sep-05-2014, 1:24am
Any updates on the progress of this mandolin? I love Paul Shippey's work

John

Rob Beck
Sep-05-2014, 2:44am
Any updates on the progress of this mandolin? I love Paul Shippey's work John
Nothing yet John, I'm still in the queue! 8 months to go and counting by my reckoning! Paul's website has been updated with some new pictures though. Including a very interesting looking 10 string called the Artist! http://www.paulshippey.co.uk/10%20string%20mandolins.htm

DaveL35
Nov-02-2014, 6:48am
I'll be very interested to see progress on this, Rob, when things get moving.
I joined the queue myself this week, following a visit to Paul.
I only just bought the Weber, but I reckon I'll be due another mandolin by 2016.

Rob Beck
Nov-03-2014, 2:09pm
Looks like we'll have to start a Shippey Mandolins Forum Group Dave! Which mandolin did you order? I had an e-mail from Paul a little while ago, in which he said he was shortly going to start selecting the wood for the mandolin, all very exciting, and hopefully I'll have some updates for this thread soon :)

DaveL35
Nov-06-2014, 3:24pm
I've provisionally ordered a maple oval hole, Rob. He had a finished example there ready to be sent out and it is a terrific mandolin.
But I'll hopefully make the trip again when he has a finished A5 type to show me.
There are three possible outcomes: the most likely is that I'll decide to go ahead with the oval hole. Less likely is that I'll decide to have an A5 instead. The third possibility is that I will feel compelled to order an A5 in addition to the oval, but that would be silly.

billhay4
Nov-06-2014, 3:33pm
Nice looking stuff there. I really like the Artist 10 string, but I'd like to see it with fanned frets to get a little more scale length on the C string.
Bill

Indianageo
Nov-30-2014, 5:39pm
I've provisionally ordered a maple oval hole, Rob. He had a finished example there ready to be sent out and it is a terrific mandolin.
But I'll hopefully make the trip again when he has a finished A5 type to show me.
There are three possible outcomes: the most likely is that I'll decide to go ahead with the oval hole. Less likely is that I'll decide to have an A5 instead. The third possibility is that I will feel compelled to order an A5 in addition to the oval, but that would be silly.

Didn't happen to have Alessi tuners by any chance?

IG

DaveL35
Dec-01-2014, 1:20pm
Sorry, IG, I don't remember now what the tuners were.

Rob Beck
Dec-01-2014, 2:07pm
The oval hole page on Paul's website http://www.paulshippey.co.uk/rosewood%20mandolins.htm lists the tuners as Grover 309s

Indianageo
Dec-01-2014, 6:30pm
Sorry, IG, I don't remember now what the tuners were.

No prob Dave. I'm thinking the one you saw was probably mine because I think Paul shipped it around the time you saw it. It was an oval hole, one piece back. Or maybe there was another one he'd just finished, I don't know. I'd ordered Alessi tuners for it and provided that for the build myself. It's a wonderful instrument and gorgeous in appearance. First one on this page: http://shippeymandolins.tumblr.com/

Regards,
IG

GKWilson
Dec-01-2014, 10:32pm
Indianagro. That's one beautiful mandolin. If you've received it, tell us about it.
With the clarity and pop Paul gets from his Ovals I think he has the perfect Irish machine.
If that was my main interest I would have one for sure.
His new Artist has an interesting voice. Sort of a Euro/Am sound to my ear.
I didn't know Paul made F5's. It has a really nice sound. I would like to hear a grasser play one.
Gary

Indianageo
Dec-02-2014, 2:50pm
Indianagro. That's one beautiful mandolin. If you've received it, tell us about it.
With the clarity and pop Paul gets from his Ovals I think he has the perfect Irish machine.
If that was my main interest I would have one for sure.
His new Artist has an interesting voice. Sort of a Euro/Am sound to my ear.
I didn't know Paul made F5's. It has a really nice sound. I would like to hear a grasser play one.
Gary

Sure Gary... and hello and thanks for the compliment on my mandolin. I really wasn't sure what to expect as I've never actually played a mandolin before. I have, however, been playing guitar for ages and yet the mandolin timbre was calling to me. When I opened the case, I found the instrument itself was smaller than I expected. I suppose I was just so used to playing guitar that the relative size was surprising to me. The sustain is better than I suspected. When I give it a strum it just resonates and resonates, the notes decay ever so slowly..I do like this. It's got a nice Celtic woody tone which is also what I was looking for as well. Let's see if I can get a photo in here.. (I've not tried this before so here goes): 127056

I'm picking up the instrument quickly and look forward to practicing and then recording with hit soon.

kind Regards,
IG

GKWilson
Dec-02-2014, 9:56pm
MMMMM Eye candy.

Dagger Gordon
Dec-03-2014, 2:21am
I played Ewen MacPherson's 10 string mandolin last year at a Shooglenifty gig.
I have to say I thought it was excellent and should I have to replace my 10 string Sobell, I would most likely get a Shippey.

DaveL35
Dec-03-2014, 10:31am
@IG - That has to be the one Paul showed to me. I remember the one-piece back. I think the only other one that was completed around that time was a 10-string, which I didn't see. Yours really is a great mandolin. If that's your entry-level instrument, I don't know what you'll get when you want to upgrade!

Rob Beck
Dec-17-2014, 5:06am
For those of you who are interested, I have has an email from Paul to say he has started work on my mandolin, and I must say I am pretty excited about it, and the time spent on the waiting list has certainly added to that! :)

Below is the text he sent me to accompany the photographs. Is anyone else here waiting in line for the other instruments he mentions, which are included in the photographs?

Here are the photos of the build as it stands.

photo 1 (uploaded as picture 3 for some reason!) .....3 tops jointed, 3 backs (on the left) still to be jointed, two pairs of sides in the middle.
photo 2 .....this show the sides for your mandolin (you might just be able to make out 'RB' written on the top block).
photo 3 (uploaded as photo 1) .....rough carving one of the backs.
photo 4 .....3 tops and 3 backs - rough carved
photo 5 .....two sets of sides (one of them yours) - almost finished
photo 6 .....3 tops and 3 backs completely carved and scraped. I like to work on three at a time where possible.....it means that I can pair up each top with the back that I think will work best in partnership....... I haven't completely decided which top and back will be yours yet......but will do soon!
photo 7 .....tone bars fitted - ready to be shaped.
photo 8 .....starting the carve the tone bars.

Denman John
Dec-17-2014, 5:20am
Very nice ~ thanks for sharing those with us!

Did he give you an idea of when it will be ready for you?

Rob Beck
Dec-17-2014, 9:15am
Very nice ~ thanks for sharing those with us!

Did he give you an idea of when it will be ready for you?

Hello John, no, he didn't give me a date, so I assume we are still looking at March/April 2015. He did say that he has an octave mandolin and another A5 to complete before mine (I think that at least the other A5 features in those photographs, which is why I asked if anyone else here has one on order, it could be theirs.) Paul said he would send another batch of photos in a few weeks, which will all be my mandolin :)

Rob Beck
Feb-15-2015, 10:08am
I have had a few more updates from Paul, and a few conversations regarding finish options. These are some of the most recent photographs. I love the look of the ebony binding with birch strip around the headstock and fingerboard. Current ETA is about 4 weeks. I am definitely starting to get excited now :)

Tavy
Feb-17-2015, 3:54am
I like the "Z" in the fretboard end - Zorro's mandolin perhaps? ;)

Rob Beck
Feb-17-2015, 4:04am
I like the "Z" in the fretboard end - Zorro's mandolin perhaps? ;)

Yes, I like that too Tavy. In fact, I was not going to have this type of fretboard originally, preferring the more modern one that Paul makes, but once I saw this style, I instantly changed my mind! :o)

Rob Beck
Mar-22-2015, 4:40am
I went up to Somerset yesterday to visit Paul Shippey and pick up my new A5. What a fantastic piece of craftsmanship! I didn't have much time to try it out yesterday, so will report back here again when I have. Paul has been an absolute pleasure to deal with throughout the process, and I would use him again without hesitation should the necessary funds ever present themselves ;)

True, there was a waiting list, but in these days of instant gratification, it was nice to let the anticipation and excitement build waiting for my turn in the queue. Once the build commenced, Paul kept me constantly informed of progress with photographs, emails and telephone conversations.

Here are a few photographs he sent be a couple of days ago of the finished mandolin, and one that my son took yesterday when I collected it.

Ron McMillan
Mar-22-2015, 5:58am
Gorgeous. <Ron dashes off to look up Paul's website>

PseudoCelt
Mar-23-2015, 12:12pm
It looks amazing, Rob, and I'm sure it sounds great too! Did you choose the fixed bridge? Paul's website shows A5s with both fixed and adjustable bridges.

My main mandolin is a Shippey rosewood oval hole from 2005, but I recently played a couple of quality f-hole mandolins (Collings and Weber) at a workshop and I now must have an A5. I haven't played many mandolins that sound as good as my Shippey, so one of his A5's is near the top of the list.

Patrick

Rob Beck
Mar-23-2015, 1:09pm
Hello Patrick, It has a fixed bridge because I wanted a pickup fitted. It has a headway piezo pickup under the saddle, and the wire runs down through the bridge. Over time I have become fed up with knocking my clip-on condensor mic off my mandolin! Hopefully this will solve the problem and also help keep the feedback down! I agree with you about the sound, Paul put a lot of effort into getting that right.

I'm sure you wouldn't be disappointed with a Shippey A5 ;)

Lord of the Badgers
Jun-29-2016, 3:57am
I'm digging this one out of thread purgatory because last week I met up with Paul (surprised it's taken so long since he lives just down the road).
I am considering offloading my Sobell to commission Paul to build a 10 string mandolin. But firstly I'm taking down my arsenal for him to see as he's very keen to see my Forster and Davidsons
I held a just completed mandolin of his and I cannot fault his craftsmanship.
Also played an "axe" bouzouki which really gave me pause for thought as the design was bloody clever. May yet get one as my "unison" bouzouki (the Forster is in octave pairs)
Totally lovely chap as everyone's said. True gent.

Rob Beck
Jun-29-2016, 4:27am
Hello Your Badgership ;)

From my perspective, I think you will be very happy if you commission a build from Paul. I love my Shippey A5, and people regularly comment positively on the tone (including our percussionist who has some kind of affliction that causes him to ridicule mandolins on a fairly regular basis ;) )

I was very tempted by Paul's "Artist" 10 string model, and if I had the spare cash, would probably already be on the waiting list for one!

In fact, the only issue, which I know you are already aware of from earlier posts, is that Paul's popularity means that there is a waiting list. When I ordered my A5 I think it was 18 months, but definitely worth every day of the wait.

And as you said, he is a really nice bloke.

Lord of the Badgers
Jun-29-2016, 8:02am
He told me he has gotten it down to six months (unsure how)...

DaveL35
Jun-29-2016, 8:20am
Latest information on Paul's waiting list: I visited Paul yesterday and he says the wait time is currently 8 to 9 months.

Oh, and while I was there I picked up my new mandolin. I'll probably start another thread for that.

Lord of the Badgers
Jun-29-2016, 10:08am
Your mandolin is very nice indeed mate. I can tell you that for sure! :mandosmiley:
I'm only saying what he said to me :)