View Full Version : Paul Schneider's Summit A200s #15, 1993

Nov-13-2005, 2:38pm
This mandolin isn't new, but it's new to me. I hope it's okay to post these. I find it immensely useful to look at the photos of mandolins and read frank comments about their relative comments. Paul Schneider worked with Ome banjos for eight years in the 70s and 80s, designing tooling and helping Mike Kemnitzer prepare an abortive project to built Ome mandolins. In 1984 Steve Carlson called him to Montana to help tool up for the Flatiron mandolin, and he did that for two years, until production was underway. Schneider bought up Kemnitzer's long-stored wood and tooling from Ome and began making his own mandolins, the Summit. The first one came out in the fall of 1990.

This A200s was signed by Paul Schneider 2 1/2 years later, in April 1993, twelve years ago. Although it's quite an early Summit--#15--Schneider already had years of experience building mandolins, and he built this one from wood chosen by Kemnitzer and tools and jigs designed and built by him. A few years later, Scheider took a couple years off to go to Nashville to set up Gibson's production line. At Flatiron, Schneider had been experimenting with X-bracing, but this mandolin has tone bars.

Nov-13-2005, 2:52pm
Appointments: The mandolin is on the smallish side: 9 3/4 inches at its widest and 13 1/4 inches long (body), and 1 5/8 inch thick along the sides. The neck is 1 1/8 inches at the nut. The scale is 13 7/8 inches. This isn't the prettiest mandolin I own, and I see a lot of prettier ones here, but it's very nice. The top has a lovely, transparent, old chestnut-colored sunburst. (Okay. Maybe that's not fair. I happen to have a bookcase sitting beside me that was built from chestnut a century ago, and you don't. See the photo.) Nice flame on the sides and back with more chestnut (wood, not the nut!) sunburst. The tailpiece has some light engraving on it, and it seems to be silver-plated (it's tarnished). Someone screwed a strap button into the heel of the neck. There tuners are very nice--gold Schallers, I think, but with the long gear above the flat gear (i.e., vintage), and probably not original. Nice tortoise/white/black/white floating pickguard screwed into the neck.

Condition: VG, I suppose. Lots of very tiny dings in the back from a belt buckle, and lots of little dings on the neck from leaning against something sharp, but I can't feel them when I play. A few small dings and scratches elsewhere. The frets were recently replaced by an expert. The neck is straight, and it really does play like butter. The action is 1/16th of an inch at the 12th fret without buzzes.

Nov-13-2005, 3:15pm
Sound: There are several superb mandolin sounds. This instrument has one of them. It's not my favorite sound, but I prefer a clean, ringing, deeply resonant, long-sustaining tone. This Summit has what might be called the ideal bluegrass tone. How ideal? Well, yesterday I was watching a Sam Bush DVD filmed some years ago in which he was analyzing a bunch of Bill Monroe songs. The Summit sounds probably as exactly like Bush's Hoss as it is possible to sound, though I'd say the Summit had maybe 10% more sustain. I'd say that a mandolin maker who can produce an A-style that sounds almost identical to the Hoss has quite a bit of talent. Fact is, I'm extremely pleased with this purchase.

Nov-13-2005, 3:17pm
Headstock. Snakehead.

B. T. Walker
Nov-13-2005, 6:24pm
Very nice, Ed. Love the color, easing up on lemon yellow on my screen. I like the look of oval hole snakeheads. Very cool.

Nov-18-2005, 9:17am
I gigged with this last night--a 2 1/2 hour set. It was a wonderful experience. The mandolin had the perfect bluegrass sound and cut right through. I had no trouble hearing it above the other instruments. Sort of a warm but slightly hoarse tone. Terrific action. It seemed to play itself. Indeed, I spent the whole evening trying to play without looking at the frets, just letting my fingers go automatically to the right places. Fun. I'm definitely impressed by the Summit A.

Nov-18-2005, 9:38am
Paul's work is often overlooked around here. I played one of his new A styles last week and it really barked. Excellent craftsmanship all around and great Bluegrass tone.

Ken Berner
Nov-18-2005, 9:58am
One of Paul's "F" style mandolins is owned by a lady here in my hometown. It has a very sweet tone and appears to very well constructed and finished.

I have raised this question before, but no one seemed to know; perhaps one of y'all will. Is Paul Schneider related to the mandolin builder in Oregon and Joe Schneider, who built Flatirons in Montana (now with Bruce Weber)? If so, this is one greatly talented family!

Nov-18-2005, 10:33am
I believe Paul is a Kansas guy and he is the Schneider who used to work at the Gibson/Flatiron shop in Montana - not the Oregon guy, Joe. Not sure if Paul and Joe are related.

Dec-14-2005, 12:16pm
A couple larger photos, now that I've learned how.

Dec-14-2005, 12:17pm