View Full Version : My Dream Mandolin

Jan-21-2004, 11:40am
Antoniotsai, a good friend from Taiwan known on Ebay as "Inlaidartist" built two mandolins just alike... one for him and one for me. They are the "ALADDIN" mandolins.
Allen tailpieces, Shaller tuners. Georgeous instruments !
Tony might sell his but not me.. I'd die first. Here's one of the twins. I might sell the house abd try to buy his.
If I cant put the rear view on this post, I'll do it on another one.It's got to be seen to be believed.

Jan-21-2004, 11:44am
And here is the rear of that delightful mandolin. This makes 5 instruments I own of Tony's and two restorations.
The gentleman does amazing work.

Jan-21-2004, 12:10pm
The side of The Aladdin. Tony never serializes his instruments. All of his premium works have a name.

Jan-21-2004, 12:17pm
And finally the front... I hope you mandolin enthusiasts get as much enjoyment looking at this beautifl instrument as I do. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif

Jim Garber
Jan-21-2004, 12:26pm
I am familiar with Tony's work, having seen pictures of it on ebay. I know you are a friend, but if you can be objective, how does this mandolin play and sound as compared to other F5 styles.

Are all your Tsai mandolins carved top F5s?


Jan-21-2004, 12:38pm
Is that a flowerpot I see on the pickguard??

Jan-21-2004, 1:27pm
To be completely truthful, Tony just finished the mandolins this week and just sent me the pictures. The mandolin won't actually reach me for a few days. The other mandolins I have of Tony's are a pair of Bowl Backs that are sure pretty ! The other mandolin is one much like an "A" style similar to what might see on his auctions at the moment. Odd critter sound-wise but, I love playing it. Really loud and awful easy to play. Got a couple of his guitars also.

And the "Flowerpot"... is'nt actually... It's meant to be a Vase and in line with the theme of the mandolin's decorative inlay, it being, "Aladdin and the Genie". The Pots and the Dragon are in keeping with that genre'. There is actually a small "Genie Lamp" in the inlay somewhere. I'm going to rub it soon's the mando gets here & wish for more mandolins like this one !

I have a Cole, a Lebeeda and a Premium Bryan England (all F5's) to compare it with as soon as it arrives.. I'll let you know.
(Not to mention 3 Flatirom 3M's... but they have their own sound.) Thanks for your interest.

Jim Garber
Jan-21-2004, 9:04pm
While we are waiting for your F5 style to arrive, please tell us about the quality of the bowlbacks. I am impressed with fine workmanship as to inlay (after all he is called Inlaid Artist!) but what about the sounds and the playability? I would rather have a simply ornamented great sounding instrument than a fancy hunk of wood, to put it bluntly.


Jan-22-2004, 8:11pm
I am glad that this topic came up as I was just looking at his auctions on Ebay. His shops work appears to be very high quality. I would probably take a chance on one of his A style mandos, but I can't seem to get past that stylized version of an F style headstock. The inlay work has too much of an asian
flair for me. If he were to offer more traditional inlay patterns I think his work would be more popular. If your Mandolin sounds good to you, I might ask him to build me a plain Jane. I hope your dream mando sounds twice as good as you are expecting it to. Best of luck with it

Jan-23-2004, 7:20am
Apparently the A models weren't made by Mr. Tsai, but by a luthier that works in his shop, Tony supplying the inlay work. I've been on the fence about those myself, due to the price and look. I emailed the winners of the last round of bidding to come on over and post their reviews. Is the nut width standard or wide? As Susie said, "it's an odd critter, soundwise", but, what does that mean? Playability, intonation, are these dead-on? Oh well, it's only a few hundred bucks...

Jim Garber
Jan-23-2004, 8:50am
Strange I find the position of the bridge in relation to the f-holes. Attached are two different mandolins currently on eBay. It looks like the scale is identical, possibly on the short side, as opposed to std Gibson length. I intentionally lined up the bridges on both his pics.

It is also difficult to tell from the pics but it looks like these are only slightly arched instruments. susie-1, could you comment on whether these are truly carved top instruments or flattops?


Jan-23-2004, 10:19pm
When Tony first started selling things on ebay, I purchased a few components, simply out of curiousity (a fully-inlaid fingerboard, a couple of different tailpieces, a couple of bridges, a pickguard, and so on). #There was a bit of a delay at my local P.O., but in the meantime Tony and I exchanged numerous emails. #Without question, Tony seems to be one of the genuinely nicest fellows I have ever "met".

When the components arrived however, the quality control on each component was just terrible. #Disgusting by any measure and completely unsuitable to be used on any mandolin. #I tried to explain the importance of quality control to him and gave him several references to pursue. #Hopefully Tony has figured it out by now, but at the time I considered the necessary jump in quality to be an impossibility.

I have to say, Tony's actual inlay work was quite nice. #Again though, aside from the inlay the balance was so bad in terms of both material quality and workmanship it was humorous.

Good luck Susie. #Please do tell us about the quality of your new instruments when they arrive. #Tony is such a nice fellow, it would be very cool if he has indeed gotten his mandolin act together.

To others, beware...beware...beware until you at least hear some good knowledgeable reports on Tony's mandos. It is not that Tony doesn't mean well and believe in his work--he simply doesn't (hopefully "didn't"--i.e. past tense) know what he was doing...except for his inlay.

Feb-03-2004, 12:59pm
Some of the finest mandolin players and builders in the World frequent the Mandolin Cafe. And, there are those of us that just love the mandolin but pale in the presence of those who "know their business".
This place should be called "The University Of The Mandolin". I've got to remain humble because as far as mandolin savvy is concerned, I'm a rank greenhorn.

So... questions: The bowl backs are simply georgeous. They are extremely intricate and all I can say is: They sure sing pretty. Compared with an "F" or "A" or about any other mandolin, they are from another Planet. Anyone who's ever picked up a bowl knows you don't show up to a Bluegrass session with one.

My flat back, sort of "A" mandolin from Antonio Tsai is not a carved top model. It has those interesting sound holes along the sides and likely that accounts for the volume & tone it puts out. The fretboard is a bit more spacey than a regular F5 fretboard though... easy to play. The sound ? Maybe 90% mandolin with just a touch of a banjo ring to it.

As far as the quality of Tony's work. He's sure sent us some nice things. He restored a badly damaged Flatiron 3M for me... the top was caved in. It's got to be seen to be believed. Sound-wise, he changed the bracing on the new top & made it.. just plain better ! I have three 3m's & it's easy to compare them.

The comments from the last gentleman were honest, fair and not at all inappropriate. Applause where it was recogonized as warranted and reservations where a fellow artisan/luthier/player felt it was needed. You can't fault honesty and such a tasteful critique.

The Aladdin F5 still isn't here but for those who might be interested, I'll gladly share my findings when it does come. With a Lebeeda, a Ron Cole RCF5 and one of Bryan Englands masterpieces to compare it with, there should be an honest way to rate it.

Oct-19-2012, 10:09am
I have 3 things from Tony. All of them are beautiful. One baritone uke is really nice. A great little instrument all koa and very nice inlay too. This was a perfect beginner instrument for a friend. The other uke is real pretty but has a lot of buzzing. The Tony mandolin is cool looking but just about unplayable. Of course these instruments are super cheap so if you expect any more you may be borderline....

Jim Garber
Oct-19-2012, 11:21am
Be aware that this is a thread from 8 years ago. Some of the posters may no longer be with us -- or at least not active on these forums.