View Full Version : Introducing the new Sorensen Stratus

Steve Sorensen
Jun-22-2018, 8:21pm
I've been curious how I could continue the idea of milled multi-ply sides into a more traditional mandolin than the Sorensen Stealth.

The new Sorensen Stratus is the result of that idea --


I'll add some pictures and detailed specs in a bit.


Ron McMillan
Jun-22-2018, 11:46pm
What does 'milled multi-ply sides' mean, Steven? Is Danny reacting to a soundhole on the treble side near the scroll?

The mandolin sounds wonderful :-)

Jun-23-2018, 12:45pm
Wow, what a great tone, and what a great design. Mandolin for the 21st century.

Steve Sorensen
Jun-23-2018, 1:19pm

Here are a couple of shots that show why this mandolin is called the "Stratus" --

168813 168814

The first picture is next a Stealth build for comparison.


GarY Nava
Jun-24-2018, 11:49am
Looks like an interesting build process.
Thanks for the photo.
Cheers Gary

Steve Sorensen
Jul-08-2018, 12:58pm
While on a recent tour swing through southern California with The Andy Statman Trio, we were lucky enough to spend some time with mandolin legend Andy Statman.

We met at the Pico Union Project -- a community space which is also the oldest synagogue in Los Angeles. The acoustics of the building were remarkable and provided a delightful opportunity to hear the new Stratus prototype in several settings --



Gladys S
Jul-10-2018, 10:40pm
It was cool listening to him play in the oldest synagogue in Los Angeles! What an amazing mandolin player. Too bad my saxophone playing son was not there to hear him play that clarinet!

Ron McMillan
Jul-11-2018, 12:12am
Sounds fantastic. What a superb opportunity to hear a master play your creation, and boy did he give it a great work-out. :)

Gladys S
Jul-12-2018, 12:41am
Yeah, he played before AND after his show. Steve had a lot of playing video to choose from.

Jesse Kinman
Jul-12-2018, 8:12pm
I’m currently having a mandolin built, so I am set for now, but if I ever come into a sizeable sum of money somehow, I have a list(a rather short one) of a several mandolins I would want to buy(an older Gilchrist being one of them), and one of yours is one of the few others. Maybe not this one, but one of the more traditional looking ones. They all sound and look great! I love the ingenuity!!!

Steve Sorensen
Nov-28-2018, 12:55am


Paul Busman
Nov-28-2018, 8:46am
Very nice "out of the box" thinking and construction! I love seeing some dare to try something other than the same old,same old,as good as same old may be.
Does "milled multi ply" sides mean they're not bent? That would save a lot of labor. Might this translate into a more affordable instrument for people willing to go with something different? I sure would!
Do you make the laminate yourself or go with something commercially laminated?
I wish I'd known about that B Chord gig-- I only live about an hour away,and get there once in a while for a Sunday Irish session.

Ivan Kelsall
Nov-29-2018, 5:30am
That mandolin sounds terrific Steven !. Just going back to the construction of the sides - i'm assuming that they're laid up to the required depth (top to bottom) & then machined to profile / thickness ?. That should result in a side that's totally rigid. Does that influence the overall 'sound' (tone & volume),insomuch as the top / bottom are vibrating on what are much stiffer sides ?.

I ask purely out of curiosity,

Steve Sorensen
Nov-29-2018, 11:20am
Ivan and Paul,

I started thinking about the possibilities of combining the sides and internal blocking into one milled unit with the Stealth builds. The Stealth builds are much more "out of the box" in terms of top and back graduations and the way that the sides join the top and back.

So, while I was starting to get a inkling that I was getting tone benefits from the "Fusion Frame" approach (as I've dubbed it now) I decided to try the approach on several more traditional builds. This Stratus for Eli Wildman was the first. To let the cat out of the bag . . . the VX which Darren Nicholson is currently playing with Balsam Range also uses this approach --


While my goal has been to make the internal volume, weight, and general side stiffness of these builds essentially the same as more traditional old-school builds, what I'm finding is that there is a snappiness, power, evenness, and clarity which is immediately sensed by players in the responsiveness to their playing across the neck.

I think that this close-up cell phone video from Darren highlights my target and the results --


I've spent a lot of time honing my check list for the goals for this type of building for the rims. At this point, although the result is actually a little MORE labor, time, and material intensive than gluing up a rim-set from blocking, bent hardwood, and milled kerfing, I am feeling very excited about the consistent response from players -- particularly with instruments which look traditional from the outside.


Ivan Kelsall
Dec-02-2018, 4:43am
Hi Steve - Many thanks for your comments. I'm not a luthier at all,although i've repaired & refurbished a great many banjos in the past,it's more the engineering / results aspect that interest me,

Steve Sorensen
Dec-03-2018, 3:04am

I'm delighted to share results -- listen to the many videos, talk to the players.

For a deeper dive on the engineering, you have to join the team! :cool:

I will say, my goal is to build the best new Player's instruments -- so the structural refinements have to pay off in tone, power, responsiveness, and playability. All else follows that imperative.