View Full Version : Wilson #022 WA-5

May-31-2016, 4:25pm
Today I was able to buff out the finish, attach the hardware and string up my latest Wilson WA-5 "Griffith Loar" copy mandolin. The top is from a Sitka spruce billet I had laying around for a few years and the back is from a billet of Big Leaf maple that Bruce Harvie put up back in about 1983. The finish is a spirit varnish base with about 15 hand rubbed coats of polymerized oil varnish (Truoil). Hardware includes Gotoh tuners, Cumberland Acoustics bridge and Bill James tailpiece as well as shop built maccasar ebony truss rod cover and 'Loar" repro pick guard. I try to make the guard vintage accurate with a steel rod reinforced celluloid back strap as well as the laminated celluloid side support.
It's only been strung up a couple of hours now but sounds "broke in" out of the box with great volume and big "woof". I'll have it at the California Bluegrass Associan's Faders Day Festival.146852146853146854146855 I think this will be a veritable Bluegrass powerhouse.

May-31-2016, 4:40pm
I forgot to add that the frets are in .80" EVO gold that are extremely durable and easy to work with. They also don't impart the ringy overtones that I believe SS frets have.

May-31-2016, 5:17pm
That mandolin is a beauty!

Jim Hudson
May-31-2016, 7:53pm
Beautiful work. Absolutely love the finish, all the way around.

Skip Kelley
Jun-01-2016, 5:30am
Craig, that's a fine looking mandolin! Cool inlay too!

Jun-01-2016, 2:03pm
It's only been strung up a couple of hours now but sounds "broke in" out of the box with great volume and big "woof" . . . I think this will be a veritable Bluegrass powerhouse.

I love the tip of the cap with the headstock, Craig. I'd be curious if there were any parts of the build where you deliberately diverged from the Griffith Loar template. And as the owner of one of Gail Hester's A5 tributes, I'd be grateful if anyone could explain to me why a design that seems suboptimal in theory (with the forward placement of the bridge from the peak of the arch) produces such dynamic results in practice.

Jun-01-2016, 5:06pm
Nope, I try to stick to the blueprint by and large. There are some cosmetic subtleties like the scooped fb extension (after insertion of curly maple slivers that act as faux frets). I've tried silver wire but, not only is it easier to install the maple strips, I think it has a better appearance.
About 3-4 years ago the "Griffith" Loar was at IBMA in Nashville and I got to get a good inspection and a side by side comparison with an A model I'd brought along. From that I was able to make some changes to the peghead shape that's made my A models a lot more accurate than had been.

Jun-12-2016, 6:41pm
Another stunning piece of work, old buddy! If this one's anywhere near as great as the 4 you brought to Wintergrass, look out!

Dec-08-2016, 8:36am
Just wanna add that I love Wilson's artistry. Been checking out his builds. Very nice vintageness going on here.

Don Grieser
Dec-09-2016, 7:45pm
Looks really fine. Let's hear a clip of Chicken Reel. ;)