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Undercover Brother
Jun-29-2004, 3:01pm
Hey now!

I wanted to post this last night... but had trouble getting the pictures small enough to post. Here's some thoughts so far...

Around this time last summer I was getting a pretty bad case of MAS.
I decided I wanted to find a luthier who could build a quality F-style mandolin around $3K.
After searching the internet and help from asking Mandolin Cafe go-ers, I decided around Labor Day that I'd place an order with Ben Wilcox. I put the deposit down in October.
Ben mentioned it might take a few months longer than usual because of the Varnish, but I figured it'd be worth it. Oh... believe me... it was worth it.
Details -
BRW FT-MS #33, June 23rd, 2004 -Red Spruce top w/tone bar bracing. Red Maple back, sides, and (U-shape) neck. Classic fingerboard shape, radiused fingerboard, scooped extension. 5-ply pinstripe bindings. Loar bridge, gold hardware; Schaller Tuners, Price Tailpiece. Ebony pickguard.
(BRW 1st ever)Oil Varnish finish.
Bobelock case included.

Ben was great to communicate with all along the way. I play Bluegrass with some friends around Atlanta (FAR from professional - I just started playing 2 years ago) and he helped me design the mandolin in order to get the sound I'd like.

UPS (Finally!) dropped it off today (make that 'yesterday'...). I've been playin' in 15 minute bursts all night - and I can definately say the sound and construction have exceeded my (high) expectations!
In an e-mail the day he sent it, Ben said he thought it "needs a little waking up on the bass side but that's how they are every time. It has a very good voice already though. If you plan on some Monroe-ing it's ready! The varnish came out pretty good.... It's ridiculously shiny for a varnish but it will dull out slowly over time. The colors just look soooo good (if i do say so myself)."

He's totally right! The color is wonderful! The photos here make it look darker than it actually is on the edges... it's amazing.
And... oh... the sound. THE SOUND! Glory be... it really has great projection. The D string is particularly strong.. it's kind of like if you've ever done archery and you really just NAIL a release... the sound comes shooting outta this thing - straight and true. It is a beautiful thing.

I've been testing out the woody sound of #33 tonight on stuff like "Bill Cheatum", "Old Joe Clark", "John Hardy", "Wheel Hoss", "Lonesome Road Blues" (GDTRFB as we Deadheads know it), and "Cripple Creek". I've been able to get some nice chopping sounds (subtle extras on the upstroke) with this mando that I just couldn't hear on the one I've been playing. I know people have said they sound just gets better... but I can't imagine how! (Well... I mean on the intellectual level I can... but for the sake of enthusiasm... you know what I mean.)

Anyway... here's some pictures.
Thank you Mandolin Cafe for helping cure my MAS (although I know I can relapse at any time if I'm not careful), and if you are thinking about working with a Luthier to hand-craft a mandolin - GO FOR IT! This process has been very rewarding.

Chris Cantergiani
Atlanta, GA

Undercover Brother
Jun-29-2004, 3:03pm
Here's one with the pickguard on...

Undercover Brother
Jun-29-2004, 3:08pm
One of my friends in town has some Kimble mandolins.
He and I plan to get together when he gets back from vacation and do a little BRW/Kimble mando comparisons.
I'll post some of those thoughts later on.
I'm heading to a jam tonight to see how much of a banjokiller I have on my hands.

One more photo for now.

Here's the backside!

Thanks for lookin'!

Chris

Scotti Adams
Jun-29-2004, 4:22pm
..congrats man...it sure is a dandy and it couldnt belong to a nicer guy...the tailpiece looks good too...

Scott Tichenor
Jun-29-2004, 4:28pm
'Tis beautiful, indeed. Congratulations and have a great time with it.

mandoJeremy
Jun-29-2004, 4:30pm
That is very beautiful. Congratulations on one fine mando! Isn't the color a good bit different than Scotti's? Anyways, enjoy!

Scotti Adams
Jun-29-2004, 4:33pm
..yea it is Jeremy...Ben has come along way in his color schemes....remember..mine is #6...alot older..he was just beginning to hone his craft...my new one due in late July will be more of a traditional cremona burst...

Brian Ray
Jun-29-2004, 4:34pm
UB,

Any chance you could post a recording of it? I'd love to have a listen...

Jun-29-2004, 6:42pm
That is one beautiful mando!

Kevin@bluegrassbrethren
Jun-30-2004, 9:26am
My eyes,......my eyes....... I think its time to e-mail Ben with another color pattern. That one is just about perfect. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif

Tom C
Jun-30-2004, 12:45pm
Sweeeeet. I don't see any difference in color schemes. The varnish looks just like the laq. How about a close-up of the front face?

Undercover Brother
Jun-30-2004, 3:27pm
Mando help up great last night... although I keep feeling like I should be bowing-down to it (like Garth & Wayne to Madonna) while chanting "I'm not worthy! I'm not worthy!"
I'm really such a beginner - but getting a new mando does help with the inspiration!
The slo-jam group I play with does mostly Bluegrass. Last night we had 2 guitars, 2 fiddles, a bass, a banjo & #33.
We played a bunch of stuff - and it was kinda distracting to zone out on "hey - this sounds so cool" while chopping, only to realize I'm losing my place in the song!! (Didn't happen much - kinda funny when it did!)
"John Hardy", "Friend Of The Devil", "Blackberry Blossom" & "Old Joe Clark" are some that stood out as being - ahem - undercontrol - and gave me and others to hear that fine dry & woody sound! (Still can't believe it's gonna get better!)
So - I will try and get some sound files over the weekend. I would like to play something now, and check it every few months to see if there is a way to document the "opening up" process that is written about so much here on the Cafe.

Here's a close-up of the face.
Thanks again, y'all!

Chris