PDA

View Full Version : Silverangel Econo "A"



kyken
May-05-2016, 9:55am
Here is the first of 10 of my econo A's. Old violin look.:grin:

tkdboyd
May-05-2016, 10:39am
Stunning!

Northwest Steve
May-05-2016, 11:59am
nice...can't wait

Stevo75
May-05-2016, 12:14pm
nice...can't wait

Me neither! (assuming my deposit made it in within the first 10)

Skip Kelley
May-05-2016, 12:57pm
Nice as always, Ken! I love that maple back; nice figure!

Bill Snyder
May-05-2016, 4:52pm
Looks like a fine instrument, just wish there was a bit more light in the photos.

Paul Busman
May-07-2016, 6:10am
Beautiful instrument. How "econo" is it?

kyken
May-07-2016, 6:38am
Beautiful instrument. How "econo" is it?
The only thing I avoided was binding on the back, everything else is there like top of the line, and the price, well, I guess I'm crazy. The sound of this mandolin is off the charts, has it all, power ,:mandosmiley:deep rich tone, I'm happy with it to say the least.

Boge Quinn
May-07-2016, 10:41am
Woohoo! This one is coming home to Tennessee!

Northwest Steve
May-07-2016, 11:05am
Woohoo! This one is coming home to Tennessee!

Sweet, we would like a report when you get it.

Boge Quinn
May-07-2016, 11:50am
Sweet, we would like a report when you get it.

You betcha!

Boge Quinn
May-12-2016, 6:37pm
Got my Econo A today...it is a HOSS! Pics and video up soon.

Michael Bridges
May-13-2016, 4:13am
Congrats! I'm a big fan of Ken's mandos. Unique, beautiful, and a tone all their own. Play Happy!

Rafael Marques
May-13-2016, 3:30pm
Terrific

willkamm
May-16-2016, 1:11pm
Can't wait either. :)

Stevo75
May-16-2016, 1:19pm
I talked with Ken, I'm fifth in line for the ten Econo A's he'll be making this summer...

willkamm
May-16-2016, 2:27pm
I talked with Ken, I'm fifth in line for the ten Econo A's he'll be making this summer...
He was not at home when I reached him. Said I was down the line. 8-10. Maybe September? I have two others to play. I'll live. All good things are worth waiting for. ;)

Boge Quinn
May-16-2016, 5:36pm
Guys, this thing is awesome. I don't know how many mandolins I own, and this is one of the best. Working on a video.

Stevo75
May-16-2016, 7:13pm
Guys, this thing is awesome. I don't know how many mandolins I own, and this is one of the best. Working on a video.

That's great to hear! I've never even played a Silverangel before so I felt like I was rolling the dice a little. But I had heard so many good things that I didn't really feel it was much of a gamble - especially because I think a lot of mandolins sound either thin or harsh and I've never heard of a Silverangel described that way. It sounds like it will be right up my alley.

willkamm
May-17-2016, 1:27am
That's great to hear! I've never even played a Silverangel before so I felt like I was rolling the dice a little. But I had heard so many good things that I didn't really feel it was much of a gamble - especially because I think a lot of mandolins sound either thin or harsh and I've never heard of a Silverangel described that way. It sounds like it will be right up my alley.

Loved the looks of them. Love what I heard of the sound of the F styles. An A style is always more reasonably priced, and I don't think I ever have been able to discern any loss of sound from and F to an A. The Redwood top mandolins I've heard, really have an even distribution of sound throughout from bass to treble.

bbaker2050
May-17-2016, 4:11am
Guys, this thing is awesome. I don't know how many mandolins I own, and this is one of the best. Working on a video.

Really? You don't know how many mandolins you own? Must be a nice problem to have.....I know exactly how many I own.........just one!��

Boge Quinn
May-19-2016, 2:16pm
Really? You don't know how many mandolins you own? Must be a nice problem to have.....I know exactly how many I own.........just one!��

Really, I Don't. I would have to sit down and figure it out. God has been good to me!

Bogle
Feb-11-2017, 2:11pm
Seeing that Ken is beginning a new series of A's this year, how are you fortunate owners of the 2016's out there liking yours?

bbcee
Feb-12-2017, 5:20am
I just bought a 2016 from a Cafe member, but it's been stuck in customs for two weeks - :crying: I'm hoping to have it in hand this week and join the happy campers!

Boge Quinn
Feb-12-2017, 3:40pm
Seeing that Ken is beginning a new series of A's this year, how are you fortunate owners of the 2016's out there liking yours?

I absolutely love mine. It is a wonderful instrument, I would not hesitate to buy again. I want a matching F5!

willkamm
Feb-12-2017, 5:40pm
Seeing that Ken is beginning a new series of A's this year, how are you fortunate owners of the 2016's out there liking yours?

Seeing you asked. I did not find the hardware on my Econo A to be very good. Tuners did not work well at all and the tailpiece was bent over touching the top of the mandolin. If you were going to get an Econo A you may want to ship Ken your hardware of choice. It is not "top of the line" as he says in a post above. Here's the post I'm speaking of.

Quote Originally Posted by Paul Busman View Post
"Beautiful instrument. How "econo" is it?"


"The only thing I avoided was binding on the back, everything else is there like top of the line, and the price, well, I guess I'm crazy. The sound of this mandolin is off the charts, has it all, power ,deep rich tone, I'm happy with it to say the least."

Ken B. Ratcliff



I've changed the tuners and the tailpiece. I also had to have the nut changed as it wasn't slotted very well. I sanded and re-slotted the bridge saddle. Personal choice. Had a crack fixed near the bass side F hole.

On the other hand is a very pretty mandolin and the sound is very good. Old world looks and sound. Just that the playability and functionality weren't too satisfactory out of the case.
For $1400.00 including case and shipped, plus the $200.00 and the time and labor I've invested in it, it's a decent enough mandolin. I would actually sell it though, except my wife is absolutely crazy about the sound and it was named after her.

almeriastrings
Feb-12-2017, 6:17pm
I just bought a 2016 from a Cafe member, but it's been stuck in customs for two weeks - :crying: I'm hoping to have it in hand this week and join the happy campers!

My sympathies... I had a similar problem with them about 4 years ago. Had to fax them all kinds of stuff. First reaction, you still use fax? Anyway, got there in the end after some degree of hassle and after parting with some €€€ in charges and tax...

Hope you get it released soon!

almeriastrings
Feb-12-2017, 6:24pm
I have had two Silverangel's. On both of these the hardware really was excellent. I still have the 'F' style. Both had really good hardware. The tailpieces were the bronze Orrico's, and the tuners were also absolutely fine in every respect. I believe the Orrico's are pretty much unobtainable at present, though, so Ken must be using something else now. I've not seen any very recent ones.

Boge Quinn
Feb-12-2017, 6:41pm
Seeing you asked. I did not find the hardware on my Econo A to be very good. Tuners did not work well at all and the tailpiece was bent over touching the top of the mandolin. If you were going to get an Econo A you may want to ship Ken your hardware of choice. It is not "top of the line" as he says in a post above. Here's the post I'm speaking of.

Quote Originally Posted by Paul Busman View Post
"Beautiful instrument. How "econo" is it?"


"The only thing I avoided was binding on the back, everything else is there like top of the line, and the price, well, I guess I'm crazy. The sound of this mandolin is off the charts, has it all, power ,deep rich tone, I'm happy with it to say the least."

Ken B. Ratcliff



I've changed the tuners and the tailpiece. I also had to have the nut changed as it wasn't slotted very well. I sanded and re-slotted the bridge saddle. Personal choice. Had a crack fixed near the bass side F hole.

On the other hand is a very pretty mandolin and the sound is very good. Old world looks and sound. Just that the playability and functionality weren't too satisfactory out of the case.
For $1400.00 including case and shipped, plus the $200.00 and the time and labor I've invested in it, it's a decent enough mandolin. I would actually sell it though, except my wife is absolutely crazy about the sound and it was named after her.

I have had no such problems with mine, in fact no problems at all. The tailpiece is fine on mine; the tuners are not the smoothest, but they work fine and do not slip, so I have not changed them yet. I could not be happier with my Econo A.

willkamm
Feb-12-2017, 7:01pm
My sympathies... I had a similar problem with them about 4 years ago. Had to fax them all kinds of stuff. First reaction, you still use fax? Anyway, got there in the end after some degree of hassle and after parting with some €€€ in charges and tax...

Hope you get it released soon!

See you live in Almeria Spain. When I was in the Merchant Marine we frequented a little port in the Bay of Gibraltar called Algeciras. Must have stopped there over 2 dozen times, over the years. Almeria is on the Mediterranean, correct? East of Malaga?

almeriastrings
Feb-12-2017, 7:17pm
Yes. Almeria is directly on the Mediterranean coast. We are somewhat north of Almeria City in a much quieter little beach town.

These are the tuners on mine. They are not quite Waverley's but they are plenty smooth enough:

153941

Might look vaguely familiar and bring back a few memories for you! :)

153942

willkamm
Feb-12-2017, 7:27pm
Yes. Almeria is directly on the Mediterranean coast. We are somewhat north of Almeria City in a much quieter little beach town.

These are the tuners on mine. They are not quite Waverley's but they are plenty smooth enough:

153941

Might look vaguely familiar and bring back a few memories for you! :)

153942

Thanks for the pictures. I put Schaller's on mine.

jasona
Feb-12-2017, 8:35pm
When I got my Laura Ratcliff A and inquired after it Ken mentioned that since it had been built (in 2002) he had changed from a hand carved bridge and the stamped Gibson style tailpiece to Cuberland Acousitics bridges and Orrico tailpieces and he recommended I do so as well. I did replace the bridge, which impacted the tone a great deal. I left the tailpiece because I couldn't be bothered since it worked fine. Like you I eventually got some fret and neck work done and it now plays great. The tuners have always been pretty good however--they are Gotohs, not top of the line but they turn easily, hold tension with no slipping.

Mike Scott
Feb-14-2017, 11:39am
While I have not had an econo A, I have owned 2 SA A styles. The first dated 2011 and the second dated 2013 (re-topped in 2015-I bought after the re top). Both had the Gibson style tailpiece; I have no idea what tuners were on them, but both did their job and didn't slip unlike the tuners on a more expensive A I had from another builder. Both had the wonderful tone SAs are known for. I traded the 2013 back to Ken for one of the Fs he built for SPBMA; it arrived yesterday and it is awesome in all respects. Ken is also wonderful to do business with too-imho. Hope this helps someone with their decision......

CES
Feb-14-2017, 12:29pm
I have a 2009 model, and I really like it. It's matured into a really dry, woody sounding mando (with excellent bass, of course, as is Ken's signature). I traded for an MT recently that I also really like. The MT wins on fit/finish and is an excellent sounding mandolin, but I think I prefer the SA's tone, at least for now (the MT's still maturing). The SA has kept me from buying a bunch of mandolins over the years I've had it. I've played better mandos (at Gruhn's, Carter's, and Lowe Vintage), but they've all been substantially more expensive (i.e., 6 grand and up). I got mine used for $900 in 2011 or 2012, and it's easily the most bang for my instrument buck to date. I feel these represent an excellent value, even at his new prices...

Just read the rest of the thread. My tuners work very well; smooth, and hold tune nicely. The tailpiece is very plain, but functional, and the bridge, fretwork, and nut on mine are well done.

Pjones3
Feb-14-2017, 2:45pm
I just bought a 2016 from a Cafe member, but it's been stuck in customs for two weeks - :crying: I'm hoping to have it in hand this week and join the happy campers!

Hoping you do as well!!!

Br1ck
Feb-14-2017, 4:43pm
Absolutely love my SA A. Has StewMac golden era tuners and an Allen tailpiece. It is a masterpiece of relicing. If you don't like that, I can understand. My bridge is SA and very well done.

I'd have to pay him extra though, as I really love the Silverangel script head stock inlay. and that style head stock. As I've said before, I wouldn't trade my SA for an MT, but would love to have an MT along with it's brighter tone.

CES
Feb-14-2017, 4:53pm
I originally traded for the MT thinking I'd move it along to help fund a step up to a MT2 or maybe a Kelly A style, but I like the variety of tones I have with these 2. I don't hesitate to recommend either, and the MT and I are bonding well. The MT isn't really brighter, but does have a more modern, focused tone. The SA definitely isn't going anywhere, and, honestly, both are better than my skill level deserves, and both inspiring in their own ways.

Clement Barrera-Ng
Feb-14-2017, 7:53pm
I also got one of the Econo models and have had it since October. I don't have anything bad to say about it, and I really like Ken as a builder and how smooth the whole process it. That said, there are a few setup related issues that had kept me from really bonding with it. It will need a new nut similar to Will's case, and I'll probably end up swapping in a CA bridge with different string spacing and intonation. I do like the sound of the redwood / X-brace top, as it gives out a really full tone with good pop. It's louder than my Pava and has a totally different voice. But I think in the end I just feel more connected to the Pava since I've had it longer.

willkamm
Feb-15-2017, 9:22am
I also got one of the Econo models and have had it since October. I don't have anything bad to say about it, and I really like Ken as a builder and how smooth the whole process it. That said, there are a few setup related issues that had kept me from really bonding with it. It will need a new nut similar to Will's case, and I'll probably end up swapping in a CA bridge with different string spacing and intonation. I do like the sound of the redwood / X-brace top, as it gives out a really full tone with good pop. It's louder than my Pava and has a totally different voice. But I think in the end I just feel more connected to the Pava since I've had it longer.

You may have a problem with the CA bridge. The top on my Econo has a very high arch. I have a spare CA 12" radius bridge at the house. Went to fit it. The top on the Econo has such a big belly, there really wasn't a way to fit the bridge base properly on this Econo. Called Steve Smith, and was told, he'd had a guy bring in his Silverangel so he could special fit a bridge for him because of the big belly. That was an F I believe. Might be the same guy, but someone who posts here brought his Silverangel to Steve Smith for a new bridge.
I tried to get Ken to send me a spare blank saddle for mine, but he said it was too much trouble for him. He makes every bridge separate. He told me to fix it myself as it was easy. So I sanded the top and re-slotted it, keeping with the 12" radius. I hope your situation is different, but that was my experience.
My "bonding" experience with the Silverangel is exactly what has made it a very expendable piece in my mandolin collection. Just too much work out of the case, to get it set up and playable.

willkamm
Feb-15-2017, 1:10pm
I also got one of the Econo models and have had it since October. I don't have anything bad to say about it, and I really like Ken as a builder and how smooth the whole process it. That said, there are a few setup related issues that had kept me from really bonding with it. It will need a new nut similar to Will's case, and I'll probably end up swapping in a CA bridge with different string spacing and intonation. I do like the sound of the redwood / X-brace top, as it gives out a really full tone with good pop. It's louder than my Pava and has a totally different voice. But I think in the end I just feel more connected to the Pava since I've had it longer.

All this discussion has made me decide to sell it again! ;)

willkamm
Feb-15-2017, 1:44pm
I also got one of the Econo models and have had it since October. I don't have anything bad to say about it, and I really like Ken as a builder and how smooth the whole process it. That said, there are a few setup related issues that had kept me from really bonding with it. It will need a new nut similar to Will's case, and I'll probably end up swapping in a CA bridge with different string spacing and intonation. I do like the sound of the redwood / X-brace top, as it gives out a really full tone with good pop. It's louder than my Pava and has a totally different voice. But I think in the end I just feel more connected to the Pava since I've had it longer.

If that nut, was slotted too close to the edge at the lower E string, like mine was, you can get a decent repair shop to replace it and slot it for under 100 dollars. Probably closer to 75. On the bridge saddle, you can lightly sand down the existing notches (if it was slotted too wide, like mine) and re-slot it. Just follow the contour of a 12" radius bridge saddle, and use the slotting on your Pava as a template. Hope this helps.

willkamm
Feb-15-2017, 2:01pm
Absolutely love my SA A. Has StewMac golden era tuners and an Allen tailpiece. It is a masterpiece of relicing. If you don't like that, I can understand. My bridge is SA and very well done.

I'd have to pay him extra though, as I really love the Silverangel script head stock inlay. and that style head stock. As I've said before, I wouldn't trade my SA for an MT, but would love to have an MT along with it's brighter tone.

I was fine with the relic "look". That was great. I love the way the distressed look turned out. It was the quality and operation of the tuners that I didn't like. They kept binding up, and just didn't work right. The tailpiece was bent over touching the top of the mandolin. In fact when I brought up the tuners with Ken, he said they weren't the best, and sometimes they worked, sometimes they didn't. So I changed them out for Schallers. Those work great. I got the one of the last, if not the last Econo of the batch. So who knows?

willkamm
Feb-15-2017, 3:36pm
Seeing that Ken is beginning a new series of A's this year, how are you fortunate owners of the 2016's out there liking yours?

Just looked at the current price. $1750.00. There is a lot out there for $1750.00. There is a Northfield M (their Michigan Made A model) for $1725.00 plus shipping at the Café Classifieds right now. Has an upgraded case. The owner is in Green Cove Springs Florida about say 70 miles from Ormond Beach. You could drive up and play it.

http://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/106336#106336

I was that close and had the money I would not hesitate. Fit, finish, playability, tone, sound, not to mentions setup, would all be there. That Northfield hands down for my money.

Bogle
Feb-15-2017, 4:20pm
Thanks Bill, and I did see the listing on that Northfield when it was posted. While I did not have a great bond with my first Silverangel that came to me in a trade due to the neck profile (although it sounded great), the next one came in with no issues, having tons of character, tone, and that very appealing dark bass "thunk" for days!

eastKYmando
Feb-16-2017, 10:02am
Some of you may know that I've posted on behalf of Ken's mandolins quite a bit. There is a reason for this. I have played Ken's mandolins since the late 90's. I've had a great deal of mandolins in my hands from many builders, some I've liked, loved and some not so much. In any case, I haven't found anything that would cause me to lay my Silverangels aside and say so long. I have owned several, not because any have been bad, but more because I just really enjoy playing them so much. I like to break them in and experience the "opening up". So, in response to some of the posts here on the thread, I have certainly had my share of new builds from Ken. Not once have I ever known Ken to be unfair in his policies, quality or prices. I currently have two F models built by Ken, one being a Redwood and the other a spruce. My spruce is probably the best playing mandolin I've ever had in my hands. It plays like butter and maintains plenty of power and tone with no buzzing on the frets. Now, with that being said...have they always been perfectly set up to my taste upon purchase, no. Ken is a wonderful builder, I challenge you to find another mandolin that sounds like Ken's. Not saying they're the end all, but for my taste the tone is a perfect blend of lows to highs. I've played others I like, but the price range is usually more than double that of Ken's. When it comes to set up, seems to me that preference and taste comes in to play and that goes with any instrument from any builder. I automatically take any mandolin that I play to my set up man, Johnny Rushing. He knows what I like in a set up and can do what I need without me even having to tell him. I understand and appreciate the craft and skill that goes into building a mandolin, but I also value a set up. If I have an instrument that's worth spending money to acquire, then I'm willing and insistent on giving it a proper set up. I know when I take mine for set up, he does it right while I'm there. As far as builders go, they may not always be the best set up guys. I've played several great mandolins by independent builders that would be even better with a good set up. I guess my point is, I don't expect setups from builders to always be spot on. I use set up guys for that. I don't even like all set up guys work, but when I find one I like, I use them on everything. If I was ever in the position to own a $20K mandolin, Johnny Rushing would be setting is up for me. As far as tuners go, blame the manufacturer. I'd venture to say we've all had our share of woes with tuners, "Had a set of (insert brand) on another mandolin and had no problems, but this set won't tune and the gears are tight and hard to turn." I know this, I've been enjoying Ken's mandolins for a very long time and look forward to enjoying them right on for years to come.

Pjones3
Feb-16-2017, 12:35pm
Some of you may know that I've posted on behalf of Ken's mandolins quite a bit. There is a reason for this. I have played Ken's mandolins since the late 90's. I've had a great deal of mandolins in my hands from many builders, some I've liked, loved and some not so much. In any case, I haven't found anything that would cause me to lay my Silverangels aside and say so long. I have owned several, not because any have been bad, but more because I just really enjoy playing them so much. I like to break them in and experience the "opening up". So, in response to some of the posts here on the thread, I have certainly had my share of new builds from Ken. Not once have I ever known Ken to be unfair in his policies, quality or prices. I currently have two F models built by Ken, one being a Redwood and the other a spruce. My spruce is probably the best playing mandolin I've ever had in my hands. It plays like butter and maintains plenty of power and tone with no buzzing on the frets. Now, with that being said...have they always been perfectly set up to my taste upon purchase, no. Ken is a wonderful builder, I challenge you to find another mandolin that sounds like Ken's. Not saying they're the end all, but for my taste the tone is a perfect blend of lows to highs. I've played others I like, but the price range is usually more than double that of Ken's. When it comes to set up, seems to me that preference and taste comes in to play and that goes with any instrument from any builder. I automatically take any mandolin that I play to my set up man, Johnny Rushing. He knows what I like in a set up and can do what I need without me even having to tell him. I understand and appreciate the craft and skill that goes into building a mandolin, but I also value a set up. If I have an instrument that's worth spending money to acquire, then I'm willing and insistent on giving it a proper set up. I know when I take mine for set up, he does it right while I'm there. As far as builders go, they may not always be the best set up guys. I've played several great mandolins by independent builders that would be even better with a good set up. I guess my point is, I don't expect setups from builders to always be spot on. I use set up guys for that. I don't even like all set up guys work, but when I find one I like, I use them on everything. If I was ever in the position to own a $20K mandolin, Johnny Rushing would be setting is up for me. As far as tuners go, blame the manufacturer. I'd venture to say we've all had our share of woes with tuners, "Had a set of (insert brand) on another mandolin and had no problems, but this set won't tune and the gears are tight and hard to turn." I know this, I've been enjoying Ken's mandolins for a very long time and look forward to enjoying them right on for years to come.

I couldn't agree more with Donnie's comments. All the Silverangel's I've owned have been fabulous sounding mandolins, easy to play, and beautiful in a holistic fashion. Hold one, play it, and you'll feel Ken's passion for his craft. They may not be your cup of tea, but a better sounding mandolin at the price point you'll not find anywhere. I keep looking for the 'real deal', like many of you, but while I'm looking, I'm playing my Silverangel.

willkamm
Feb-16-2017, 1:08pm
I couldn't agree more with Donnie's comments. All the Silverangel's I've owned have been fabulous sounding mandolins, easy to play, and beautiful in a holistic fashion. Hold one, play it, and you'll feel Ken's passion for his craft. They may not be your cup of tea, but a better sounding mandolin at the price point you'll not find anywhere. I keep looking for the 'real deal', like many of you, but while I'm looking, I'm playing my Silverangel.

Just was not my personal experience in fit, playability support and finish. I have purchased better, even much better at that price point. Just a personal observation, from someone that has purchased and owned about 30 mandolins in my lifetime, both US, import, small and medium sized builders. What I said was in response to someone that wanted a personal observation on the recent batch of Econo "A" mandolins built in 2016. I'm not the only one that posted misgivings. I also received a Private Message and a couple of emails from Econo "A" that would not post their experience because they feared backlash, because they didn't sing the praises of Ken Ratcliff.
Hear is the Private Message without the poster's name.

"I just read your post about the issues you had with your SA. I have the last one, #384 even though I was probably one of the first to inquire. Then never heard anything until I asked the status of them several months later, after he stopped taking orders. That is why I have the last one. I am only a beginner, but I have to agree you on the poor quality of work that was done setting the thing up. The nut and bridge slots are terrible along with the inconsistent string spacing. The bridge contact to the top is not very good at all. The "process" was non existent, an email telling me that he was getting started on it and another saying send the rest of the money, then another telling me it getting ready to ship. I do think with a better set up it will be ok.
Thanks," (Anonymous).

This was also my experience and I don't understand why.

Clement Barrera-Ng
Feb-16-2017, 1:23pm
Some of you may know that I've posted on behalf of Ken's mandolins quite a bit. There is a reason for this. I have played Ken's mandolins since the late 90's.


I couldn't agree more with Donnie's comments. All the Silverangel's I've owned have been fabulous sounding mandolins, easy to play, and beautiful in a holistic fashion.

I have been a fan of your writings and all your videos Donnie and your enthusiastic endorsement of Ken's work is in part one of the reason I decided to get one. I still think Ken's mandolins have a really good sound, and can be made to play as easily as a Collings or a Pava. But I think Bill's point as well as my own, is that people should be aware that there will be some set up work involved once the mandolin is completed, and in some cases, much more than one expects. There are some trade-offs when doing an Econo model, and those trade-offs may be perfectly fine for some but may not be for others. That is all.

I will just close by saying that I really appreciate Bill's feedback as I know it's not easy to "stray from the pack" so to speak. I think this will be the last post I'd make on the subject as I don't want the thread to get locked down. If anyone is interested in my feedback you know how to reach me.

willkamm
Feb-16-2017, 1:54pm
I have been a fan of your writings and all your videos Donnie and your enthusiastic endorsement of Ken's work is in part one of the reason I decided to get one. I still think Ken's mandolins have a really good sound, and can be made to play as easily as a Collings or a Pava. But I think Bill's point as well as my own, is that people should be aware that there will be some set up work involved once the mandolin is completed, and in some cases, much more than one expects. There are some trade-offs when doing an Econo model, and those trade-offs may be perfectly fine for some but may not be for others. That is all.

I will just close by saying that I really appreciate Bill's feedback as I know it's not easy to "stray from the pack" so to speak. I think this will be the last post I'd make on the subject as I don't want the thread to get locked down. If anyone is interested in my feedback you know how to reach me.

I will follow suit Clement and leave this alone.

eastKYmando
Feb-16-2017, 3:00pm
I have been a fan of your writings and all your videos Donnie and your enthusiastic endorsement of Ken's work is in part one of the reason I decided to get one. I still think Ken's mandolins have a really good sound, and can be made to play as easily as a Collings or a Pava. But I think Bill's point as well as my own, is that people should be aware that there will be some set up work involved once the mandolin is completed, and in some cases, much more than one expects. There are some trade-offs when doing an Econo model, and those trade-offs may be perfectly fine for some but may not be for others. That is all.

I will just close by saying that I really appreciate Bill's feedback as I know it's not easy to "stray from the pack" so to speak. I think this will be the last post I'd make on the subject as I don't want the thread to get locked down. If anyone is interested in my feedback you know how to reach me.

I appreciate your thoughts and concerns, as I'm sure Ken does as well. I just want you guys to know and understand that anything I post is from a personal and honest experience. Do I consider Ken to be a friend of mine? Absolutely. It's a friendship that has developed over the years, and I feel Ken is an upstanding guy. I know he puts a lot of heart and soul in his building, and how people feel about his work is of the utmost importance to him. I know it's always been that way with me, even back to the first one. I won't say that Ken's set up work is "bad", but I can understand where someone may have set up preferences that would vary from what Ken does out of the box. I've experienced this myself. Ken does live within a reasonable drive from me, so, in some cases I have went to his place, but to be honest Johnny Rushing is just as close and he does fantastic set up work. As I said in my previous post, I don't care who the builder is, I automatically assume I'll be making a visit to Johnny. As a matter of fact, I have a new build from another builder right now...great mandolin, needs a set up. Off to Johnny's I will go. I'm not going to criticize the builder or run their work in the ground over a simple set up job. Good instruments are worth setting up the way you want them, and nothing can be better than being in the shop with a set up man giving him feedback while he adjusts things. I know there are mandolins out there with impeccable workmanship and no doubt play like dreams.....BUT so does mine, with a custom set up to my specs. That was all I was trying to say. I've played other new products hanging on walls at dealers that I'd like to have, but with bad set ups. Some priced at $13,000. If I could afford one, I'd still go get a set up. I am in no way trying to antagonize any one, but as far as my friend goes......He does build great mandolins, and I would never misrepresent them in any way. If someone wants specific input from me about his work, feel free to message me any time. I've owned a bunch and know quite a bit about them. I don't claim to be the end-all of mandolin knowledge, but I love to play and I love playing my Silverangel.

kyken
Feb-16-2017, 6:35pm
I guess I might as well speak for myself a little. Just can't see this public forum as being a place where a man's integrity can be trashed. I'm surprised that it hasn't been stopped by now. I've tried to do all people fairly and to act and do the way I'd like to be treated. I offered full refund, deposit, all. I have to know what the problem is before I can resolve it. If I can't resolve it, I'm happy to build a new one to make someone happy. I know that set up work isn't my forte. Some guys are specialists in that, like David Harvey or Johnny Rush. I set my mandolins up to play the way I do because I like them that way. I figure if someone wants to change that, well they can. I just got a mandolin in from a man in PA for some bridge work, Heck, I couldn't play it the way he had the strings spaced. No separation between the E A D and G. I guess that comes from my violin making days. I like that space between each string, the separation. But hey, that's the way he likes it. He set it up that way. I didn't touch it. Killer mandolin, but hard to play that way. Good action and all, but all the strings were equal distance. I'm not a virtuoso, neither are you, but we play to our own amazement, right? It gives us an inner feeling of peace and happiness, contentment. Nothing bothers me as much as when someone isn't happy with my work, and I do whatever I can to fix it. My forte isn't set up, but a sound that is balanced from highs, mids, and down to the lows. It's like a band. If there is no bass player, you have a pitiful sound.I have worked 36 years to achieve the sound that I get from my mandolins. Nobody's perfect, are you? Sad that you have been malicious about me. It wouldn't make me feel good when I layed down at night. I'm aware that my mandolins are different. They are all great builders, and have their own ways, individual. But, I don't use a CNC for anything.I do it by hand.Therefore when you see it, feel it and hear it, it's mine, my own sound.Mandolins or any other instrument are not or shouldn't be like auto parts. Interchangeable. So, yes, you can see the makers mark on my mandolins, which is the way I want it. I hope this explains about myself a little. I'm not a mean vindictive person. I just want to build mandolins that have the sound that I think that they should have. If someone wants to raise or lower the bridge, change a nut for different spacing, put another tailpiece on or tuners, that's fine. For the price of these econos, my objective was to give you something that almost anybody could afford and yet has that full rich tone that is so often missing. So, I hope I have explained myself well enough and I'll let my sound speak for itself.

pops1
Feb-16-2017, 6:38pm
I was at a nice store today and played several guitars and mandolins. Instruments from Martin, Collings, Gibson, Eastman, Huss and Dalton, and more. In my opinion every one would need a setup for me to play. I ordered a mandolin from a prominent builder that everyone here knows, I won't say a name. When it came he called to see how I liked it. I said I lowered the strings by half and lowered height at the nut. He said really, I set that up especially low for you. Too many ideas how an instrument should be set up and each is different. I didn't have a problem and when I got done setting it to my preference it was fine. Anyone can mess up a string spacing, especially when doing a run of several instruments. I have changed the spacing at the bridge on several mandolins to make them the same. Sound of build, and quality of sound are the important factors for me.

I do not own a SA by the way so am not biased in either direction. Seems like everyone likes the sound, the rest is personnel.

Pjones3
Feb-16-2017, 6:43pm
Just was not my personal experience in fit, playability support and finish. I have purchased better, even much better at that price point. Just a personal observation, from someone that has purchased and owned about 30 mandolins in my lifetime, both US, import, small and medium sized builders. What I said was in response to someone that wanted a personal observation on the recent batch of Econo "A" mandolins built in 2016. I'm not the only one that posted misgivings. I also received a Private Message and a couple of emails from Econo "A" that would not post their experience because they feared backlash, because they didn't sing the praises of Ken Ratcliff.
Hear is the Private Message without the poster's name.

"I just read your post about the issues you had with your SA. I have the last one, #384 even though I was probably one of the first to inquire. Then never heard anything until I asked the status of them several months later, after he stopped taking orders. That is why I have the last one. I am only a beginner, but I have to agree you on the poor quality of work that was done setting the thing up. The nut and bridge slots are terrible along with the inconsistent string spacing. The bridge contact to the top is not very good at all. The "process" was non existent, an email telling me that he was getting started on it and another saying send the rest of the money, then another telling me it getting ready to ship. I do think with a better set up it will be ok.
Thanks," (Anonymous).

This was also my experience and I don't understand why.

I suspect a private message was meant to be private.....evidently not so....
Backlash, on a internet forum where people share opinions and experiences??
Am glad I don't live in fear of what others think of my honest opinions.....

Skip Kelley
Feb-16-2017, 8:41pm
I guess I might as well speak for myself a little. Just can't see this public forum as being a place where a man's integrity can be trashed. I'm surprised that it hasn't been stopped by now. I've tried to do all people fairly and to act and do the way I'd like to be treated. I offered full refund, deposit, all. I have to know what the problem is before I can resolve it. If I can't resolve it, I'm happy to build a new one to make someone happy. I know that set up work isn't my forte. Some guys are specialists in that, like David Harvey or Johnny Rush. I set my mandolins up to play the way I do because I like them that way. I figure if someone wants to change that, well they can. I just got a mandolin in from a man in PA for some bridge work, Heck, I couldn't play it the way he had the strings spaced. No separation between the E A D and G. I guess that comes from my violin making days. I like that space between each string, the separation. But hey, that's the way he likes it. He set it up that way. I didn't touch it. Killer mandolin, but hard to play that way. Good action and all, but all the strings were equal distance. I'm not a virtuoso, neither are you, but we play to our own amazement, right? It gives us an inner feeling of peace and happiness, contentment. Nothing bothers me as much as when someone isn't happy with my work, and I do whatever I can to fix it. My forte isn't set up, but a sound that is balanced from highs, mids, and down to the lows. It's like a band. If there is no bass player, you have a pitiful sound.I have worked 36 years to achieve the sound that I get from my mandolins. Nobody's perfect, are you? Sad that you have been malicious about me. It wouldn't make me feel good when I layed down at night. I'm aware that my mandolins are different. They are all great builders, and have their own ways, individual. But, I don't use a CNC for anything.I do it by hand.Therefore when you see it, feel it and hear it, it's mine, my own sound.Mandolins or any other instrument are not or shouldn't be like auto parts. Interchangeable. So, yes, you can see the makers mark on my mandolins, which is the way I want it. I hope this explains about myself a little. I'm not a mean vindictive person. I just want to build mandolins that have the sound that I think that they should have. If someone wants to raise or lower the bridge, change a nut for different spacing, put another tailpiece on or tuners, that's fine. For the price of these econos, my objective was to give you something that almost anybody could afford and yet has that full rich tone that is so often missing. So, I hope I have explained myself well enough and I'll let my sound speak for itself.

I would like to say that the time I have spent with Ken told me all I need to know about this man. One thing, he is generous with his time, knowledge, and material possessions. Ken is also a true gentleman! I don't know of anyone that has more of a gentle spirit that he. He has the best conscience of about anyone I have ever met. He would do anything for anybody! I know Ken would do whatever he could to please an individual with one of his mandolins. Just my 2 cents!

eastKYmando
Feb-16-2017, 11:06pm
I would like to say that the time I have spent with Ken told me all I need to know about this man. One thing, he is generous with his time, knowledge, and material possessions. Ken is also a true gentleman! I don't know of anyone that has more of a gentle spirit that he. He has the best conscience of about anyone I have ever met. He would do anything for anybody! I know Ken would do whatever he could to please an individual with one of his mandolins. Just my 2 cents!
Skip, from my experience with Ken, I concur. BTW played one of your A models this past summer, Adam Steffey had it. Awesome instrument. I really liked it a lot. Seems like it was redwood....sound right?

jasona
Feb-16-2017, 11:38pm
Some of you may know that I've posted on behalf of Ken's mandolins quite a bit. There is a reason for this. I have played Ken's mandolins since the late 90's. I've had a great deal of mandolins in my hands from many builders, some I've liked, loved and some not so much. In any case, I haven't found anything that would cause me to lay my Silverangels aside and say so long. I have owned several, not because any have been bad, but more because I just really enjoy playing them so much. I like to break them in and experience the "opening up". So, in response to some of the posts here on the thread, I have certainly had my share of new builds from Ken. Not once have I ever known Ken to be unfair in his policies, quality or prices. I currently have two F models built by Ken, one being a Redwood and the other a spruce. My spruce is probably the best playing mandolin I've ever had in my hands. It plays like butter and maintains plenty of power and tone with no buzzing on the frets. Now, with that being said...have they always been perfectly set up to my taste upon purchase, no. Ken is a wonderful builder, I challenge you to find another mandolin that sounds like Ken's. Not saying they're the end all, but for my taste the tone is a perfect blend of lows to highs. I've played others I like, but the price range is usually more than double that of Ken's. When it comes to set up, seems to me that preference and taste comes in to play and that goes with any instrument from any builder. I automatically take any mandolin that I play to my set up man, Johnny Rushing. He knows what I like in a set up and can do what I need without me even having to tell him. I understand and appreciate the craft and skill that goes into building a mandolin, but I also value a set up. If I have an instrument that's worth spending money to acquire, then I'm willing and insistent on giving it a proper set up. I know when I take mine for set up, he does it right while I'm there. As far as builders go, they may not always be the best set up guys. I've played several great mandolins by independent builders that would be even better with a good set up. I guess my point is, I don't expect setups from builders to always be spot on. I use set up guys for that. I don't even like all set up guys work, but when I find one I like, I use them on everything. If I was ever in the position to own a $20K mandolin, Johnny Rushing would be setting is up for me. As far as tuners go, blame the manufacturer. I'd venture to say we've all had our share of woes with tuners, "Had a set of (insert brand) on another mandolin and had no problems, but this set won't tune and the gears are tight and hard to turn." I know this, I've been enjoying Ken's mandolins for a very long time and look forward to enjoying them right on for years to come.

I agree with this for the most part (excepting the personal endorsement of Ken--I don't really know him). When Ken told me via email about his changing the bridges I got one sent from Steve Smith, and took it with the mandolin when I received it to the set up guy my instructor recommended, the late Larry Brown. When this mandolin came up in his queue he just had to call me he was so enthusiastic about it--"It has outstanding tone" he said, "comparing favorably" with a Smart and a Tucker he was also working on. He got things dialed in pretty well--he wanted to do a refret at the time as the bridge fit (and new nut for string spacing) but I decided on a dress only at the time. Eventually I got the frets replaced and fretboard dressed too.

I don't think anything personal is meant by criticisms--certainly not by me. I can't cut wood straight! But I don't think that not pointing out instrument shortcomings does anyone any service either, if respectfully given. These are hand made instruments at a really good price point that sound like much more expensive instruments, but are at these price points for a reason.

I do think different people have different expectations, and that is ok since we have different backgrounds. Because I was studying with a gigging musician I was told to expect to need further work on it to personalize it, which is why I made the booking with Larry before I even received it. Others will not have this advice. Also other builders make mandolins closer to what folks expect, and that is fine too.

I will say this in closing: this mandolin sounds great, flaws notwithstanding. I was just admiring its pop and how its matured in over the past 15 years--its really more than I deserve with my level of playing. I care nothing for what others think when they see it, but when they hear it, it turns heads. Several years ago I was at a workshop in San Diego with Mike Marshall, who came over to me after hearing it while I tuned and was warming up, asked after the instrument, and then took it and played on it for a few minutes while folks were tuning and otherwise getting ready. Only thing I regret is that he didn't hand me his Loar while he did!

Br1ck
Feb-17-2017, 3:19am
Personally, I love going into a nice shop, playing everything under $3500, and not leaving with a frustrated longing for a mandolin better than the SA I have. Do I leave wanting some in addition to? Only sometimes. I've tried Webers, Pavas, Collings, and a few others. A Northfield F was pretty nice.

I bought my SA mandolin used from a banjo player, so I doubt it was set up special. Plays real good.

Johnny60
Feb-17-2017, 3:48am
I have no axe to grind in this discussion. I've never seen or played a Silverangel "in the flesh", although all the ones I've heard on YouTube sound amazing.

However, as a long-time guitarist (40+ years) I can say that every single guitar I've ever owned needed some sort of set-up work to get it to play right for my wants, needs, comfort and playing style.

I once asked a shop owner who sells tons of Martins why the action was always so high on all of them. The reply was that Martin don't know if you're a thrasher or a gentle player, so they're all sent out with a higher action. It's then up to the player and set up guy to do the "tweaking".

The last 2 guitars I bought sounded great, but in both instances the nut was cut wrong and the high top E string kept being pulled off the fretboard every time I did a pull-off (literally!). A new nut, a fret dress and an action tweak sorted the problem out in both cases. One was a telecaster, the other a Martin.

As I say, no axe to grind here at all. Just some observations about instruments in general.

jasona
Mar-12-2017, 10:45am
Going to hijack this thread to rave about the look of the A5 you listed in the classifieds Ken--what a gorgeous looking instrument!

Northwest Steve
Mar-12-2017, 11:28am
Going to hijack this thread to rave about the look of the A5 you listed in the classifieds Ken--what a gorgeous looking instrument!

Ditto.....

bbcee
Mar-12-2017, 12:34pm
Ditto.....

Boy, is that nice!!

jasona
Mar-12-2017, 12:43pm
The link to the ad (http://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/108675#108675)

Br1ck
Mar-12-2017, 1:03pm
They play and sound as good as they look. I'd collect them if I had the money. sound is subjective, but I have played nothing I like better in the price range. At under $1500, a used SA is a great value. It's kind of the opposite of an MT in aesthetic and sonic properties, MT being brighter and impeccably built, the SA woody and aged out of the box. Chocolate or vanilla? A scoop of each please.

Mike Scott
Mar-12-2017, 1:30pm
I am going to weigh in on the hijack. I traded the subject mandolin back to Ken for an F5. The mando in question is #337. Not only is that one piece back stunning, it plays well and the tone and volume are terrific. Had I not had a case of MAS that included scroll envy, I never would have parted with it. A great mandolin in all respects! The new F5 (Valentina) is only 42 days old, but sounds excellent and is a stunner to look at too...........

Kevin Stueve
Mar-12-2017, 4:48pm
Mike since you owned it, I have a question. I recently tried a different brand mando that had those golden age tuners and I found the knobs small an the turning action very stiff. As that is the only mando I've played that had those tuners am curious what you thought of the tuners on the SA

CES
Mar-12-2017, 4:58pm
Can't comment about that one specifically, but I have an Econo with, I believe, GA tuners, and they have functioned very well so far. The buttons are smallish, but not difficult to turn, and very stable. Not Waverlys, but very serviceable...

Mike Scott
Mar-12-2017, 7:04pm
They held tune very well. They were kind of stiff, but not overly so. I think the smaller knobs (than say the Grovers on my Morris, or any of the imports I've owned) play into that a bit. I don't mind a little stiffness as long as it stays in tune. I hate tuning and re tuning, and re tuning, etc, but hey, that's just me........

bbcee
Mar-13-2017, 5:56am
I own econo #381. I think mine are GA tuners as well. I do find them slightly stiff, but I've gotten used to them, and they've been holding tune fine. They're beautifully relic'd.

fscotte
Mar-13-2017, 6:49am
Hey, just for the record, and defense of Ken, I put a set of $90 Rubner tuners on my latest build and think the cheaper Grovers are better. This was the first time using Rubners and thought I was upgrading. The are a little loose, a couple are stiff, and one screwhead broke off the first time I tried installing it.

Builders can't always control the hardware they are getting. Ken isn't asking a lot of money for his builds. I know how much it costs to build one.

Johnny60
Mar-14-2017, 8:30am
If I had the money, I'd buy that SA A5 in the classifieds - it looks great!

ToneDeaf
Mar-14-2017, 8:57am
I'm happy to report that I'm in line for an A this year. I'm more than happy with the Silver Angel F that I've owned for over 15 years. It's the only F hole mandolin I play. I'm really looking forward to having another.

pheffernan
Mar-15-2017, 6:31pm
I am going to weigh in on the hijack. I traded the subject mandolin back to Ken for an F5. The mando in question is #337. Not only is that one piece back stunning, it plays well and the tone and volume are terrific. Had I not had a case of MAS that included scroll envy, I never would have parted with it. A great mandolin in all respects! The new F5 (Valentina) is only 42 days old, but sounds excellent and is a stunner to look at too...........

I too once owned #337 . . . before Catherine, before Mike, before Ken . . . and I think it's an awful lot of mandolin, particularly for that price point. I can't promise that you'll love the darker tonality, the fiddlesque playability, or the rustic aesthetic. Those characteristics are a matter of taste. I can promise that you'll love the way that Ken stands behind his instruments and commits to serving their owners: http://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/showthread.php?111307-Break-Angle

Kevin Stueve
Mar-15-2017, 6:59pm
well the temptation is gone. Which is probably good for my marriage ;)