View Full Version : Arriving Today: Labraid LIX

Nov-03-2008, 2:07pm
Brian Dean has done it again.

Arriving today via UPS is my brand spankin’ new Labraid L&H style mandolin. It has a fully arched Carpathian Spruce top, Claro Walnut back and sides, blackwood binding, carved herringbone rosette and a French polished varnish finish.

When I placed the initial order last year, I had envisioned an homage to the classic Lyon & Healy Style A, which I consider the most beautiful of the vintage mandolins. Brian achieved my vision, and then some. This mandolin has none of the vulcanized rubber of the original L&H Style A, nor does it have any of the innovations gracing recent Labraid models, such as fancy tone enhancers or sound holes modeled after cathedral windows. Instead, the predominant theme that emerged during the design and building process was “understated elegance,” as reflected in the simple-but-powerful lines of the peghead scroll, fretboard terminus, pickguard and a newly designed Labraid cast tailpiece. These features are complemented by the finely carved detail on the peghead face and tailpiece insert.

I will let you know how it sounds after I’ve had a chance to play it for a day or so. But I wanted to show the pictures before it arrived, as I expect to be preoccupied over the next few days getting to know my new mandolin.


Tom C
Nov-03-2008, 2:12pm

Nov-03-2008, 2:17pm
Wow, it's nice to see how they evolve. I have Brian's first L&H style A inspired one and this one is exquisite looking too. I'm sure you'll be happy. I am. Wonderful looking mandolin. Congratulations to Brian and Michael.


Brad Weiss
Nov-03-2008, 2:25pm
Whoa! Understated, huh? That is a real work of art, all of the elements complement one another so that the whole is greater than the sum, IMHO. One of the coolest headstocks ever- what kind of inlay is that?


Nov-03-2008, 2:33pm
Wow, that's gorgeous!


Nov-03-2008, 10:12pm
Very nice. Very, very nice. Very, very, very nice. If the sound quality is half as beautiful as the visual integrity of your instrument, that's priceless.

papa willie
Nov-03-2008, 11:45pm
That is a beautiful instrument!

Jason Nagati
Nov-04-2008, 12:17am
Now I'm sad. Brian's waiting list is going to be years long by the time I save up enough to get another Dean. One good thing about his instruments - though I don't play well enough to justify buying an instrument of this quality, I can justify ownership for the aesthetic value.

Nov-04-2008, 4:47pm
Bravo. Much applause from Minnesota. I'd love to hear what it sounds like. Also curious about the inlay in the head stock. It looks like metal in the photo.

Nov-04-2008, 6:13pm
The OP hasn't come back to us yet, so I'll try and answer based on experience and what not. I believe that is not inlay on the headstock face. I believe that is a relieve carving like what's going on with the tailpiece insert. Brian does a lot more carving on headstocks than inlay work. Mzuch can correct me.


Nov-04-2008, 6:20pm
Looks like relief carving to me, too.
Notice the zero fret. I think the nut is wood which you can get away with if you use a zero fret.
Brian's usual genius at work here. What a lovely instrument!

Nov-05-2008, 12:33pm
Yes, the headstock and tailpiece decorations are relief carvings, not inlay. That the headstock background looks like metal is testament to Brian Dean's talent.

As for sound, although she sounds as bit tight out of the box as is typical of a new instrument, it has exceeded my expectations. Yesterday I played with my teacher, a classical mandolinist who is very fussy about tone and plays only L&H mandolins, a Style A and a Style C. The Labraid held its own, and its a good thing that Brian threw several business cards into the case before shipping, because my teacher now wants one.

I am especially blown away by the volume of this mandolin. Very robust for such a delicate looking oval-hole instrument, and the sustain seems to go on forever. Tone is definitely that of an oval hole and nicely balanced across the strings. I expect it to develop further over time. Finally, the playability is just right. Brian got the neck profile, nut width, string spacing and set-up just about perfect.

Nov-05-2008, 2:00pm
I am looking at one of the most beautiful mandolins I have ever seen.

Eric F.
Nov-05-2008, 2:05pm
Gorgeous. Brian is mad, simply mad. (In the good way.) I own one of his creations, but that does not stop me from marveling - and drooling - over each new one.

Tripp Johnson
Nov-05-2008, 4:20pm
Absolutely stunning...

Nov-05-2008, 4:46pm
Sound clips?

Nov-05-2008, 5:01pm
I love Brian's take on the finger rest/pickguard. All of the appointments work so well together, the visual impact is very satisfying to my eye! congrats.

BTW, I love the term "Fretboard Terminus." I wonder if you could refer to "pick-click" as "Plectrum Interruptus"?!?

I like where the neck joins the body... a it more neck to grab onto than your typical L&H style A?? Nice!!

Nov-05-2008, 5:19pm
You call it "understated elegance". I call it absolutely beautiful. It is another fine example of the fusion of craftsman and player.

Enjoy you new Labraid.

Jason Kessler
Nov-06-2008, 9:39am

Ken Olmstead
Nov-06-2008, 10:48am
I am looking at one of the most beautiful mandolins I have ever seen.

I agree, I'm simply speechless! Congradulations on what looks to be an amazing instrument!

Nov-06-2008, 11:11am
That is an amazingly beautiful mandolin.