View Full Version : New Fern

Bill Halsey
May-08-2009, 2:18pm
Client preferences include top & back binding offsets (w/b/i), 24 fret board, fern, quartered 2-pc. back.


Traditional "Top Hat" style posts allow strings to be wound down next to the headstock ferrules. Other usual mod's include slotted pinion screws, refaced gears, re-sized shafts drilled & tapped for pearl buttons & screws.


Bill Halsey
May-08-2009, 2:28pm
Few more images:


May-08-2009, 2:43pm
Sweet! Those Elites look great (along with everything else).

Mike Black
May-08-2009, 2:44pm
That looks beautiful Bill!!! :mandosmiley:

Scotti Adams
May-08-2009, 3:11pm
Really nice...how she sound?

May-08-2009, 3:20pm
Yes, soundclips please (even if they do not do the instrument justice).

Skip Kelley
May-08-2009, 3:54pm
Wow, Bill! That mandolin is amazing! Every detail is awesome!

Bill Auld
May-08-2009, 7:33pm
Love the burst, Bill. And the workmanship is absolutely first rate. Really a gorgeous instrument!

John Gardinsky
May-08-2009, 8:03pm
Fantastic work.

May-08-2009, 8:05pm
So that's what those things looked like when they were new! Never seen one with the details that clean though.
Lacquer? those bindings are ...white!:cool:

May-08-2009, 8:14pm
I agree with John's compliment. Very nice looking, Bill. Tremendous.


Troy Harris
May-08-2009, 9:16pm
Outstanding work…
Absolutely beautiful Fern…

Bill Halsey
May-08-2009, 10:34pm
Lacquer? those bindings are ...white!:cool:

No, John; I never use lacquer -- it's varnish & F/P.
Actually, the inside offset is white, but the bindings are ivoroid. I haven't figured out how to keep them from burning out in natural light photos. I'm sure open to suggestions. The upper point pic looks a little better.

May-08-2009, 10:56pm
Awesome ... every detail looks very clean and perfect. Love that dark almost black burst. Very cool! NICE WORK!

May-09-2009, 12:03am
No, John; I never use lacquer...

The old ferns were lacquered, thought you might have followed suit.

Yeah, ivoroid can be hard to photograph, especially against a dark stained instrument edge. You can "cheat" it darker! (Ain't photoshop great?)

Gail Hester
May-09-2009, 12:12am
Awesome Bill. I believe that the first Ferns were varnished.

May-09-2009, 12:13am
I love your shading and coloring of that 'burst.....tasty.....

May-09-2009, 12:15am
I've seen one lacquered '24 Loar-signed fern, I don't know if some of them were varnished, might have been.

May-09-2009, 12:46am
wow that's nice

goose 2
May-09-2009, 1:18am
Great looking instrument Bill. I have always thought there was something in the water up there in Kalamazoo. . .

Mike Bromley
May-09-2009, 8:02am
Wow, sure is pretty. Lovely detail work!

Kirk Albrecht
May-09-2009, 10:07am
Wow, Bill, that is an amazing looking instrument! I bet the new owner is one proud pup, as you should be.

Did you all notice the binding work done on the pickguard bracket! Awesome!

May-09-2009, 10:29am
Holy smokes, that's perfect!

Can you post a sound clip?

David Catalfamo
May-09-2009, 11:02am
Thats really,really nice, truly super job, can't possibly be better ,do you make and brush your own varnish ?

May-09-2009, 3:53pm
Very pretty. Nice burst work, and great wood choices. Are those 1/4" bindings, or 3/16"?

Bill Halsey
May-09-2009, 9:11pm
"You can "cheat" it darker! (Ain't photoshop great?)"

That's great, John, looks more like real life -- have at the rest of them if you find the time... I sure won't get around to learning this stuff, much as I'd like to get good at it. Hopefully, I'll get the hang of doing some sound clips someday (wish I could accommodate those requests, it sounded really good to me). We just returned to the great Midwest and way too busy with getting a workshop together, breaking ground for a major garden, and fixing house issues, to be able to get into peripherals. Not to mention having to regress to dial-up for another year here. :(

Re varnish, there seems to be a heap of Ferns dated around March '24, and a couple of known examples from late '22. I imagine they were done the same as the rest of the Loars.

My interest, for whatever it's worth, is to replicate every detail of selected instruments from the Loar period, both esthetically and functionally. And I'm finding that after all the sweat over specs., wood, color, finish, tone, etc., the very most difficult detail overall (for me) to counterfeit is that period of Gibson factory workmanship. Maybe if I could nail it, I might not find it quite so fascinating.

"...do you make and brush your own varnish?"

David, I don't make my own varnish, any more than Gibson did. I just brush on a couple of coats of commercial quick-drying linseed oil varnish, knock off all the bumps and goobers with sandpaper, then lay on the French polish. I think it's probably a good idea to start with a light sealer coat of shellac.

"Are those 1/4" bindings, or 3/16"?"

I try to maintain approx. 3/16" thickness around the edge of the finished plates (side- or top-bound), which dictates the height of the bindings. FWIW, I've noticed on many of the period instruments that the body bindings grow a tiny bit in width toward the neck joint. I always seem to miss this detail.

Thanks for all the feedback; I really enjoy the dialogue.

May-10-2009, 11:00pm
Well, I have had it my hands and swatted a few notes, shows all the promise of the prototype Bill had me try out. As for it's appearance... the pictures (as good as they are), cannot convey the caliber of workmanship that Mr. Halsey is consistently producing. It's a real Gem! I am glad to have you back in the "neighborhood!"

Ivan Kelsall
May-11-2009, 1:02am
Beautiful,beautiful work Bill - you guys never cease to amaze me,

Scotti Adams
May-11-2009, 8:54am
Thats got to be the best looking retro-fern Ive ever seen.

May-11-2009, 9:00am
Thanks Bill for the info. Much appreciated. I've got all my plates ready, and about to cut the blocks and rim set for my first F5('s). I need to get bindings and such ordered, and that was helpful.

David Houchens
May-11-2009, 11:01am
Definately Top Shelf.

May-11-2009, 1:37pm
Bill, you make the finishing process sound easy. I know you're just being modest!

May-12-2009, 10:53am
That's really a masterpiece. It's a beautiful mandolin in every aspect. And I do believe, as Adrian confirmed, your mandolins sound at least as good as they look like. I like your approach to every detail based on your deep knowledge of Loar period mandolin construction. If I hadn't Adrian's #10 (you know) I'd be definitely one of your customer,:grin: