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BlueMountain
Dec-17-2005, 1:04pm
Here is Neil J. Dean's #5. Signed 7-2-04. It is said to be his first quilted maple back. The finish is hand-rubbed varnish, and he says mastering that takes a lifetime.

BlueMountain
Dec-17-2005, 1:10pm
The sound is superb--one of the finest mandolins I've ever played. This has been through the vibration treatment, which made it even better. Characterize the sound? Full, solid, deep, rich, fruity. Strong and loud. Just enough bite and chop to make it work with bluegrass (I've used it at concerts), but this is probably even better as a jazz or classical instrument. The sound reminds me of that of the Lawrence Smart mandola I once owned, except a fifth higher, of course. Not flimsy or flaccid. Just a touch of woodiness.

BlueMountain
Dec-17-2005, 1:14pm
The headstock also reminds me of the A. Lawrence Smart design, but it's so attractive that who cares. I love it. Some wag on here, I think, says it looks like hair parted on the left. It looks to me like both the back and the front of the headstock have ebony veneers, but I'm not sure. Gold Grover tuners.

BlueMountain
Dec-17-2005, 1:18pm
I love the simple beauty and perfection of the inlay. I think Dean generally inlays his name in the headstock, and this inlay is an upgrade. (What a pain for him that there is not only another Dean building hand-made mandolins, but a company selling cheap PacRim mandolins under the name Dean. And, of course, Neil works in Vermont, home of another, better known guy named Dean. I wonder if they're related.)

BlueMountain
Dec-17-2005, 1:20pm
Nice warm sunburst, colorful but warm and not garish, and beautifully blended. Bound ebony finger-rest. Nice detail at the end of the fretboard. Medium-weight one piece gold-plated brass tailpiece to improve sustain.

BlueMountain
Dec-17-2005, 1:26pm
Side details. Ivoroid binding, w-b-w.

BlueMountain
Dec-17-2005, 1:28pm
Lovely quilting. I sort of like that big brass strap button. Sort of unusual. Looks like a knob on a piece of fine furniture.

BlueMountain
Dec-17-2005, 1:29pm
Last shot, showing more of the side as well as the back.

SternART
Dec-17-2005, 2:36pm
I met Neil last year at Wintergrass. I agree about the Lawrence Smart comparison, Neil's work has that complexity of sound & tone that are what first attracted me to Lawrence's work. I'll bet Neil has even improved in the last year! A very talented younger luthier. He was nice enough to make me a set of his ebony tailpieces, that I then used on a pair of Lawrence Smart instruments, where I collaborated on the design with Lawrence,he built me a matching set, a dola and mando.

kyblue
Dec-17-2005, 3:18pm
Very nice. I like the headstock. Neil is doing some great work, and he's a nice guy, too.

twaaang
Dec-27-2005, 12:58pm
That other Dean guy is an immigrant to Vermont, like myself, a "recovering flatlander".

BlueMountain, your #5 is gorgeous, and I hope Neil's waiting list isn't growing faster than my fiscal obstacles are wearing down! He lives "just over the hill" from me (the hill featured in LARRYDATA's photo report about Rigelfest); about ten miles too far, according to me, and about ten miles too close according to my wife. -- Paul