View Full Version : Lefty A by Gary Vessel & Ryan Soltis

Sep-19-2005, 9:55pm
Here's a few shots of what my buddies Gary Vessel and Ryan Soltis made me http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif

Bass ackwards folks like me need friends like this, that's for sure!

I couldn't be more pleased. #Needless to say it brought tears to my eyes when they handed it to me!





Sep-20-2005, 10:20am
must be something about lefties liking blonde A5's. That's what my Old Wave is. Your new axe is just beautiful. Enjoy it.

Sep-20-2005, 10:23am
Nice looking mando. Simple and elegant. It's weird that all the lefties are getting the same color. Aren't you guys supposed to be the odd ones among us? I guess blonde is differnt than sunburst...but I thought it might mean green mandos or something http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif

Tom Smart
Sep-20-2005, 1:23pm
I'm right handed, but I attempted to play this mando a bit this past weekend. I also got to hear Pete play it, and he did some very nice versions of Lonesome Fiddle Blues, Lonesome Moonlight Waltz, and some other lonesome and non-lonesome numbers.

The mando has a very distinctive sound, which I found very appealing but also very different than a typical modern A5. It also has some unusual design features--nontraditional woods, rather flat arching with minimal recurve, and a rather steep neck angle.

I'm wondering if Gary (and Ryan, if you're out there) would comment on the design goals, target tone, finished product, etc. Gary has built some fine F5s that come pretty close to "that" Loarish tone and look. He has also built some other styles with different goals, all of them quite successful. This one really seems like a big departure from any of the others, though.

I like it, but I'm not going to comment on what I hear in it. I'd much rather hear what the builders and the owner have to say about it. Gary? Ryan? Pete?

Also, any idea on when you'll be finished with the new mando you're secretly building for me? It would be great if you guys could have that done in time to present it to me for christmas. You ARE secretly building me a mando, right?

Sep-20-2005, 3:23pm
"It also has some unusual design features--nontraditional woods..."

Looks pretty traditional to me...
I'm guessing Red Spruce (maybe Engelmann?) and European Maple?

Gary and Ryan are both very talented violin makers, BTW....
It's nice to see folks from that world jumping over to shake things up in mando-land....

Tom Smart
Sep-20-2005, 3:44pm
Man, you're good Bruce. If I'm remembering correctly, Pete referred to the back and sides as Sycamore, saying it's a softer wood than maple. But Wikipedia just told me that Sycamore is the same thing as European Maple. So I was wrong about nontraditional woods, but I'd still like to hear from those guys about their design goals and what they think about the finished product. Another difference from a modern A5 is the 12th fret neck joint.

Gary? Ryan? Pete?

Gary and Ryan are indeed very talented violin guys. I particularly liked Gary's Scarampella copy from a few years back. I'm going to have to shop around for new violin setup and repair guys, since they're both planning to leave Zion soon.

Sep-20-2005, 4:38pm
"Man, you're good Bruce."

Well, I think I may have cheated...
That wood might have come from a stash I found up in Yorkshire...
Sure looks familiar...

Here's a pic of Ryan from a couple months ago on an Engelmann trip....
He wound up squeezing a lot more wood in that wagon.... #http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/wink.gif

Ken Sager
Sep-20-2005, 5:33pm
Pete, that's an amazing mandolin. I can't wait to see it, and hear you play it in person. It's nice having friends like that, yes?

Where are you jamming next? Let me know when you're planning to take it out again.


Sep-21-2005, 11:59am
Hi guys. Sorry for the delay,been busy. The back wood is a piece of English Sycamore/maple that I got from Spruce in the early 90's. A very cool looking cut off from a cello back that I made years ago. The top is Engleman from wolf creek pass here in the high Uintas. Tom,the design is based on an F model minus the points and scroll. It's slightly modified from that too. Since this is the first one I have made it was a little bit of an experiment. Also when two guys build one instrument there is some difficulty in getting information shared at the right times. The neck is a little higher than I wanted because Ryan made the fingerboard thicker than I wantd it and by the time he had the frets in it was too late to change it. The mando doesn't suffer though. I think it's sounding just fine. We are making a righty of the same model too for a client in New York. You all should have a chance to play that before it leaves and before I leave too. I haven't seen the mando for a few days and trust it's still breaking in. I guess, in short, I'm pleased with the this A model and plan to use it a lot in the future. The rightly should be done in a couple more weeks. Thanks for the kind words.

Tom Smart
Sep-21-2005, 12:48pm
the design is based on an F model minus the points and scroll. It's slightly modified from that too.... I think it's sounding just fine.
Other structural modifications I can see: 12th fret neck join, no "ears" (or whatever they're called) at the fingerboard extension, relatively flat arching with little or no recurve.

I agree it's sounding just fine. Actually, better than just fine. I think it sounds very good, though it's a different sound than I've ever heard in a mando before. I'll go out on a limb and describe it this way. To me, a good F5 copy has a percussive attack: a "ping" sound, if you will, that's really useful in hard-driving bluegrass and loud jam situations. On the other hand, a good teens or twenties Gibson A has more of a "boing" sound--a warmer attack, followed by a kind of "blooming" quality to the tone--that's more useful for blending with an old-time or celtic ensemble. These are very broad characterizations, but I hope you can relate to what I'm hearing.

To my ears, Pete's new mando has a nice "boing" to it, unlike what I would expect from an f-hole mando. At the same time, it seems more penetrating than a typical oval-hole A model. So, how would you characterize the tone, and if possible, how would you relate it to your design choices and building style?

It's also possible I'm asking a question that doesn't make sense, or has no definitive answer...

About that "New York client" you're building one for...Is that really the one you're secretly building for me???

Sep-21-2005, 12:56pm
I saw that mando briefly last Sunday at the jam, although I doubt I could have done much with it since I'm mediocre playing right-handed! (Thanks for letting me pick on your mando, Tom. Your brother does great work.) It was quite striking looking at it from across the circle, and looked great up close. Very nice work. I wish I could have stayed and listened longer.


Sep-21-2005, 1:44pm
You know I've played the lefty the best I could and it's a damn funny thing. When the E strings is on top it sounds so totally different. I can't make exact comparisons because of that, but when I turn it around,with the neck unplayably to my right, the G strings are on top and just play open strings it sounds like a mando. I'm looking forward to hearing the righty so better comparisons can be made by all of you.

Sep-21-2005, 3:56pm
All I know is that I've only picked a few notes with my old one since I got this thing http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif

At the moment I'm trying to figure out how to pack 6 years worth of jamming into the 8 days I've had it, LOL! For some reason my 44 year old bones aren't liking me right abouts now. No sleep and sore fingers makes you grumpy.

I'll be at the jam tonight with it, after I coach my daughters soccer practice. See you all there.

Spruce, thanks for posting that pic of Ryan.