View Full Version : Spankin' New Arches A Oval

Gerry Cassidy
Apr-01-2009, 3:53pm
Chris just put these up on his site and with the price point, and a Chris Baird build I just hadta have one!

Adi top, Walnut back, side, AND neck. Should be interesting, and fun!





It needs to rest a couple more days, then Chris will give it a final set up. Then, on it's way to me. :mandosmiley:

Eric F.
Apr-01-2009, 4:02pm
Gorgeous! I love that walnut back. I have been drooling over these, too. It would be a nice companion to my Arches A. Hmmm. What can I sell?

Apr-01-2009, 4:05pm
Absolutely beautiful. I can see why you fell for that one.

Of course, we need a full sound report, especially with the combination of A oval, red spruce and walnut. I would be really interested in knowing the result of those.


Apr-01-2009, 4:34pm
Absolutely beautiful. I can see why you fell for that one.

Of course, we need a full sound report, especially with the combination of A oval, red spruce and walnut. I would be really interested in knowing the result of those.


Nice Gerry. I'd like to hear your report as well. If I hadn't just picked up an oval hole A, I would have sprung for one of those babies. That's a great deal on an Arches! I'm glad to see luthiers offer more affordable options in this economic climate.

Skip Kelley
Apr-01-2009, 4:39pm
Wow! That mandolin looks great! The walnut is beautiful!!

Apr-01-2009, 5:10pm
It is taking great restraint for me to not hit the BUY IT on one of those. They look amazing, especially considering the price!! Gerry, I think we're going to need to do a VA Mando Tasting soon. :grin:

Apr-01-2009, 5:22pm
Congratulations. Those look great. It was his closed down list that led me to my Spira, so no regrets. I'm really looking forward to a review of the re-vamped Arches Flat top instruments.


Gerry Cassidy
Apr-01-2009, 5:42pm
Thanks everyone! I'm pretty excited, as we all are when we get our new 'Babies'! :)

I'll definitely get a player report up as soon as I have her here.

Shaun, I'm thinkin' we're about a month away from the time when us West Ender's start looking to make a Weekend Beach Run to escape the weather. A Tasting Session would certainly be in order.

Spoke with Chris on the phone this A.M. He's a great fella. Very insightful and really likes to keep traditional design's (with more modern building tools, of course) in his builds. This affordable line looks to be a great way to allow someone (like me) the chance to get into a really nice instrument, and not break the bank.

Okay, I'm gonna run over to Rod's thread to see if he's put up any more pic's of his gorgeous new Weber... :)

Bill Snyder
Apr-01-2009, 7:24pm
Looks like one of the best deals going to me. That is really nice.

steve V. johnson
Apr-01-2009, 7:40pm
Hey Gerry!

Congratulations!! Chris's deal rocked my world, too, stuff is going on sale as fast as I can... get ... a ... grip ...

Folks, go look at the other ones, too! Chris is offering some splendid wood choices, not ust the same ol', same ol' !!

Tremendously exciting.


Jill McAuley
Apr-01-2009, 10:45pm
Congratulations - that walnut back and sides one really caught my eye, as did the one he as up with cocobolo back and sides. I'd be all over that cocobolo one if I hadn't just gotten my Weber. Looking forward to hearing your report back on your one once it arrives.


Gerry Cassidy
Apr-02-2009, 5:01am
Steve, Thank you, Sir! These little pups look like they might hold their own in a seisiun, don't they? Chris told me he was very happy with the way they came out as far as having really good punch, and volume.

Jill, again, thanks! Yes, the cocobolo and the walnut were the two I liked. The cocobolo was already gone when I called him. So, that made the choice that much easier. :)

I guess you can still order any of them. I didn't ask him how long it would take to get one, but he did say these were relatively easy to build. So, I wouldn't imagine it taking too long.

I'm kinda wondering how one would actually classify this design: It's a Flat Top, yet there is an induced arch due to the bracing. Do other Flat Tops actually have some small amount of arch to them? The only other Flat Top I've owned was a Trinity College OM. It's top was as flat as a pancake.

I am sending him a set of FT74's to set it up with.

Apr-02-2009, 8:15am
Good Deal!

All of those instruments with thier wide variety of woods will satisfy the tastes of nearly everyone. Of course the craftsmanship and tone will deepen the love for Chris' work and engender brand loyalty.

Speaking from experience, you get the total package from Chris. My Gibby, though a fine instrument, is my backup now.

Best to you Gerry. You are about to have a grand experience.

And thanks to Chris for making so many people happy.

Apr-03-2009, 10:16am
Someone really needs to buy the zebrawood one... coz I've hovered over that buy button a dozen times, but I'm supposed to be downsizing the collection, not adding to it. But, boy, I think Chris is really onto something here. A well designed, American-made small-shop mando for under a grand? He's gonna sell a LOT of these...

Gerry Cassidy
Apr-03-2009, 1:05pm
He's gonna sell a LOT of these...

... as long as you just go ahead and click that 'Buy It Now' button on that Zebra! :grin:

Apr-03-2009, 1:30pm
I ordered up the birds-eye version. Can't wait to receive it. :mandosmiley: Right after I ordered it I found that Don and Josh Paine (Pomeroy Mandolins) are offering up a resonably priced flat top as well.


Sort of Sobell looking.


Bob Stolkin
Apr-03-2009, 2:04pm
I like the shape of the Arches one better. Very cool.

Gerry Cassidy
Apr-03-2009, 2:46pm
I like the shape of the Arches one better. Very cool.

I think they both look pretty cool, actually.

Although, my first impression of the Pomeroy I thought they looked a bit like a Trinity College instrument. To my eyes, the induced arch in the Sobell is much more evident. I've never really thought of a Sobell as a flat top. Of course, that could just be my eyes! :confused: :)

The Pomeroy family, and Mr. Baird could be starting off a really cool trend here. Really nice, handmade instruments with a very attainable price.

Of course, we musn't forget the Big Muddy folks, and I'm sure there are a couple-to-few more out there I'm forgetting to mention that were already there.

Apr-03-2009, 5:16pm
Don't forget Gypsy.

Yeah, I see the TC similarity as well. When I said Sobell-ish, I was thinking of the width of the bout and the taper to the neck. I guess a little more TC-ish than Sobell-ish based on the flat top.

Chuck Naill
Apr-03-2009, 6:31pm

Doesn't Peter Ostroushko use an Arches A Oval?

In a recent comparison walnut and red spruce turned in a the winning performance. You were ahead of the curve.

Congratulation on a one of a kind and beautiful mandolin.


Jill McAuley
Apr-03-2009, 10:20pm
Gotta give a mention to Steve Smith and his Redline Traveler mandolins - if we're talking about American made mandolins with a good price point then the Travelers should definitely make the list!


Gerry Cassidy
Apr-04-2009, 8:32am
Al: Thanks! Yes, I have a feeling my giving in, and pulling the trigger on this one is going to be very good thing!:)

How could I forget Walt, and his Gypsies'? Definitely a nice instrument at a GREAT price.

Chuck, I'm not sure if Peter plays one, or not. Maybe, Chris can tear hisself away from his workbench for a couple minutes and answer that for us? It's exciting to hear the Adi Red / Walnut combo did well in the comparison. Chris told me the combo was the loudest of all of the first run he put together. I play ITM and Contra Dance, so the extra volume will be nice.

Jill, I have been watching your build thread and the Red Lines definitely are there! As far as the trend I was mentioning it wasn't necessarily meant to be US made only. I was talking more about the shops that can run up into the $4K-$8K + range for their top shelf instruments actually using their same skill and materials to make a more affordable line. Much like what Chris is doing with Arches, and the Pomeroy's with their new line.

Apr-04-2009, 8:38am
Congratulations on your stunning new mando! I think that clicking the "Buy it" button on those mandos is totally understandable, I look forward to reading your review when you get it.


Apr-04-2009, 11:42am
Peter O. Plays a Gavin Baird carved top oval

Jill McAuley
Apr-04-2009, 1:24pm
Jill, I have been watching your build thread and the Red Lines definitely are there! As far as the trend I was mentioning it wasn't necessarily meant to be US made only. I was talking more about the shops that can run up into the $4K-$8K + range for their top shelf instruments actually using their same skill and materials to make a more affordable line. Much like what Chris is doing with Arches, and the Pomeroy's with their new line.

Oops, sorry, it's just that I'd seen Big Muddy and Gypsy mentioned...
What about the Silverangel Economandos then? I'm more of an oval hole fan myself, but I certainly wouldn't mind adding one of them to the fold (and a Cocobolo Arches as well!!).

Swinging back to the praise of the Arches mandolins, I'm really looking forward to seeing what the new carved top line looks like as well!


steve V. johnson
Apr-06-2009, 4:37pm
I just heard John Goodin's audio of the Pomeroy Mountain Rebel. Very, very nice. And, yes, good playing, too!

I like the size of the Pom', that's really interesting, seeing it next to the A model!

Goooood stuff out there, folks. Wooooo.

For all of that, it's still the walnut Arches that has ensnared my imagination...

Play on...!


Gerry Cassidy
Apr-07-2009, 8:47am
NOTE to the Wise; Allow for 1-2 days extra shipping/receiving time for Moab, Utah! :)) Moab is one the prettiest spots in this wonderful Country, but it's VERY remote.

I wanted to send Chris a set of FT74's to set up the mando with. I've had to adjust a couple other mando's for the wound, .015 A course.

I have had good experience with USPS, so I sent them to him using Priority Shipping. Usually 2-3 days. I've even had stuff come to me overnight with the Priority option.

Yesterday was Day 3, and I got a note from Chris that they hadn't arrived yet. :(

Let's hope they show up today. I am starting to get twitchy waiting for my new Baby! :) :mandosmiley:

Apr-07-2009, 9:21am
Not to rub it in Gerry, but I received the birds-eye version that I ordered yesterday. (though I live just a few hours from Moab) Certainly a lot of mando for the money. I'll hold off of an extended review as we've (the mando and I) only been together for a handful of hours. But I can easily say that it is the best impulse purchase that I have ever made!

I hope you see yours soon:mandosmiley:

Gerry Cassidy
Apr-07-2009, 11:51am
Joe, Not at all! Please, post away.

I'd love to see some 'Home Pics', maybe a soundbite?

Most definitely looking forward to a Player's Review.

I knew I'd have to be patient when I decided to send the strings to Chris. I wanted him to do the set up for me. I ruined, and ended up replacing the nut on my F4 the first time I tried mod'ing it for the bigger string.

Glad to hear yours made it safe & sound.

We anxiously await your report!:mandosmiley:

Gerry Cassidy
Apr-08-2009, 8:46am
Yesterday's email Back & Forth:

-----Original Message-----
From: Gerry Cassidy
Sent: Tuesday, April 07, 2009 3:23 PM
To: Chris Baird
Subject: Cassidy Flat Top

Hey Chris,

Did the strings make it today?

Fingers Crossed,



Yes! Finally got them, will ship tomorrow, wed.


Woo-Hoo! She should be on her way to me, today!

Gerry Cassidy
Apr-11-2009, 12:54pm
The mando is here, safe & sound.

I agree with Joe, A WHOLE lotta mando for the money. What a gorgeous piece this thing is.

I haven't played it too much, yet. I took it out of the case and the tuning had dropped about a quarter tone. I checked it again a few minutes later and it had changed yet again, so I am gonna let her sit in the case for a few hours before I start tweaking the tuners.

I played it a bit and the fingerboard feels like butter! Very slippery. The A & E ring like bells. I am already loving that.

As for looks, there seems to be a couple bearclaw marks in the top. Is that common in red spruce? Beautiful! Pictures really don't do natural finished tops any justice, whatsoever.

The walnut figuring is outta this world! The 3D is amazing. I have it in natural lighting and it just shows all it's dimensions like a peacock fanning it's feathers.

More to come...

Gerry Cassidy
Apr-12-2009, 11:48am
Seem to be talking to myself here, as of late, but I just gotta say: The little Flat Top is far and way the best impulse buy I've ever done.

I sat with it a couple hours this morning and am just amazed by, first, how loud it is. The Red Spruce/Walnut combo certainly seems to be a good one for volume. This lil' one is gonna be killing some banjos!

The really good stuff is how buttery the fingerboard plays, up & down. The A & E courses sound to be made of quartz crystal.

My next step is to learn to play better so as to do it justice.

Bottom line: This thing is a beauty in all ways possible.

Apr-12-2009, 12:34pm
Well arcopizz, it's sad to talk to yourself, so I'll chime in :) It's great to hear you love your new Arches A Oval! I'm on the list for one of the next batch (a curly maple b&s example)

Moab is one of my favorite mountain bike destinations & the idea of a great mandolin being made there is very cool indeed. Can't wait to get mine & I'd love to see some pics of your walnut!

Apr-12-2009, 12:38pm
That instrument gets a very quick response from me: WOW!!!

Jill McAuley
Apr-12-2009, 5:26pm
Glad to hear you're loving your new Arches, Gerry. You have to post some sound clips or video when you get the chance, I'd love to hear what it sounds like.


Gerry Cassidy
Apr-13-2009, 6:44am
Thanks for the 'Kudos' everyone.

29er: You, my friend, have a VERY nice instrument coming your way. I'm thinking you are going to be very happy with what you get. There are pic's of mine on the first page of this thread. I will try to get more taken, soon.

Jill, We just moved across Country this past year and I don't have my studio set back up yet. I just got another call from a friend that wants some tracks done for a song of his, so I think I am gonna have to concentrate on getting it set up again. I'll post some samples here as soon as I do.

steve V. johnson
Apr-13-2009, 6:20pm
Gerry, I've been watching but 'on the fly', not time to say much.

Further congratulations on your new Arches Flat-Top and best wishes for much great joy
and music with it.


Apr-13-2009, 7:02pm
Mine arrives on Wednesday... yeah, I gave in to the inevitable.

Gerry Cassidy
Apr-13-2009, 8:40pm
Mine arrives on Wednesday... yeah, I gave in to the inevitable.

Alright! Way cool! Which one did you get?

Man, don't dread it one iota. You're gonna love it.

Jill McAuley
Apr-13-2009, 10:35pm
Gerry, ya gotta ad it to the signature now with the rest of your posse....


Gerry Cassidy
Apr-14-2009, 6:15am
Gerry, ya gotta ad it to the signature now with the rest of your posse....


"Ta-Da!!!" :)

It's not at the top because of any alphabetical form. Just since receiving it this past Saturday, I do believe this little one has already become my main player.

Apr-14-2009, 8:19am
Alright! Way cool! Which one did you get?

Man, don't dread it one iota. You're gonna love it.

Oh, I don't dread--just gotta make some room for it!

I bought the zebrawood one. I've always liked the look of zebrawood, and I used to have a wonderful zebrawood guitar that had an aggressive, percussive tone to it-- a great fit for a mandolin. I'll be happy to report out when I get mine.

(Interestingly enough, the very zebrawood guitar I'm referring to is now for sale in the classifieds. I'm not the one selling it, so NFI for me, but it is a heck of a guitar.)

Apr-14-2009, 4:36pm
Okay, go figure... my Arches flattop was scheduled to arrive tomorrow, but for some reason, showed up today. Honestly, that has never happened to me before, but thanks, FedEx Ground! I've been enjoying its company for the last couple of hours, so here are my first impressions:

Fit and finish are top-notch. It is much prettier in person than it is in the photos (and it looks pretty nice in the photos). Extremely clean construction, very well executed lacquer finish. Sides and back are zebrawood; it has more color variation and figure than it appears in the photos, where it looks sort of flat. This is a very attractive instrument. Having had Mid-Mos, Flatirons, and a Gypsy, I got kind of used to flattop=simple cosmetics. Kind of nice to have a flattop with some sex appeal.

Tone is very balanced and mid-rangey, which I would expect from a flattop. More sustain than most archtops, but very good note separation. A very "clean" sound. With my normal playing attack, It had good volume and a sweet voice. With a more aggressive attack, the volume got a lot louder and the tone a bit nastier. I could push it pretty hard without distortion. I don't think Loar owners need to worry about being drowned out, but this little guy has some real power.

Action came set low and very comfortable (and very nearly in tune, too). Kind of wondering if I could take the action up a little and get even bigger tone; it could come up a bit and still be very comfortable.

Summary: I'm very pleased with this mandolin. It strikes me as a very versatile instrument. While it might not have quite enough guts for a really loud bluegrass jam, it has a loud, clear, balanced tone that would work very well in ensemble and duo playing; it certainly has enough volume to stand out in acoustic ensembles, and you can attack pretty hard without compromising the tone.

Additionally, this is an exceptionally well-made instrument, with an eye to detail. While I have not owned an Arches instrument previously, I've been aware of Chris Baird's reputation for clean builds and attention to detail. This certainly comes through: clean lines, well-selected woods, tight joins, mirror finish.

I'm excited to see Chris, along with Don Paine and a few others offer good quality flattop mandolins. It's wonderful to be able to own a mandolin of this quality for under $1000.

Gerry Cassidy
Apr-15-2009, 7:04am
Congrats, Rich!

You definitely have more flat top experience than me. Your comparison was a good read. Thanks for that info.

Mine is definitely louder than both of my arch tops. The sustain...hmmm... I would call it similar to the arch tops (both are oval holes).

I'd love to see more pics of that zebrawood. It looked pretty awesome on Chris's website.

Enjoy! :mandosmiley:

Bob Stolkin
Apr-23-2009, 4:15pm
Anybody have further impressions of these to share?

Gerry Cassidy
Jun-26-2009, 9:34am
Ha! I FINALLY found my camera. Thank Heaven for small miracles as it was down in the basement, amidst the 20, or so boxes still unpacked after our move.:disbelief:

I snapped a few "Home" pics of this little guy.

Some top, back, H/S, etc. and, of course the obligatory shot of the battle-scarred MandoCafe sticker on the case! :mandosmiley:

BTW, it's an Eastman F style case, but as you can see the FT fits just fine.

Jun-26-2009, 9:47am
Wow, that is one nice looking mandolin.