View Full Version : Buying a G-style Mandolin

Patrick Gunning
Aug-10-2004, 11:29pm
I got inspired by flowerpot's post to talk a little about my visit last weekend with Paul Lestock, builder of Arrow Mandolins and guitars.
I had met Paul at wintergrass and again at GAL and was really impressed with his instruments. He invited me to come down to his shop in Mosier, Oregon to check out some new guitar-bodied octaves and his new mandolin design, the G-style. Last weekend I went down to visit some friends in Portland so while I was there I dropped by his shop.
I got there and was completely blown away. His instruments ranged from flat-top guitars better than any new martin I've ever played to a crazy mandocello you just have to see (and hear) to believe. I also finally got to play the new mando design he'd been talking about. I'll let the pics speak for themselves about the look of the new mando.
The tone of the instrument was incredible. It had great "pop" in the chords and wonderful ringing tones, even in the E string, and had much more depth to the bass than most great F-styles (maybe due to the longer scale length). The only instrument I've heard that I loved as much is Thile's Dude. Anyway, I handed over the down payment before I left, and sometime next year will be getting one of these babies for my very own. Paul's a great guy and it was a pleasure to visit and to do business with him. Here's some pictures I took when I was there. Enjoy.

Patrick Gunning
Aug-10-2004, 11:34pm
here's another one of a row of his instruments
from left to right: G-style mandocello, G-style octave, 5-string tenor guitar, Adirondack/Koa 00.

Patrick Gunning
Aug-10-2004, 11:37pm
these are two mandocellos, a G-style and a crazy guitar-bodied one. The guitar-bodied mandocello was incredible. It shook the couch when I was playing. Yes that is a good thing. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif

Patrick Gunning
Aug-10-2004, 11:41pm
here's the "official" pic that Paul sent me - the one in the middle is mine (well, not yet... but I'm counting the days).

Michael Lewis
Aug-11-2004, 12:10am
Wow! What a great sense of design! I'm impressed.

Aug-11-2004, 12:22am
I was really impressed with his 5 string mandolin, sounds really good, even the fifth string.

Ted Eschliman
Aug-11-2004, 6:07am

Aug-11-2004, 6:56am
Those sound holes a really cool. He really did a good job of matching the porportions from the mando to the cello they really look like a good family. One thing I've noticed on a lot of cellos is they tend to look a bit awkward when they are matched to a mandolin shape exactly, somehow not as graceful, but I don't see any of that with these they all look great, in pics at least.

Where is the dola?

Pete Martin
Aug-11-2004, 9:59am
Congratulations Patrick! Paul builds very nice stuff.

Aug-11-2004, 11:03am
So what does the G stand for?

Aug-11-2004, 12:39pm
My goodness, thanks for the compliments.
The "G" designation is my nod to that genius Orville Gibson...
It's also what comes after F.
Here's a few thoughts:

* Body is based on air chamber volume of a florentine
* Assemetry/point inversion improves ergonomics
* Compound cutaway lends to ease of play WAY up the neck
* Longer fretscale adds massive bass response
* New building techniques emphasize VERY quick response

The Mandola is arriving early 2005.

Chris Baird
Aug-11-2004, 1:43pm
What is the fret scale?

Aug-11-2004, 4:27pm
The scale is 14.866"

Aug-11-2004, 6:18pm
Hey Paul, that Jazzbo of yours for sale at Greg Boyd's looks sweet.

John Rosett
Aug-11-2004, 7:31pm
i got the G prototype #2 from paul at weiser. to me, it was simply the best sounding mando that i heard. what i REALLY want, but can't afford yet, is a 10-string mandolin-ola in the shape of that 5-string tenor guitar. that thing is beautiful!
#berkeleymando- i was at greg's today playing that jazzbo-it is nice.
# # # # # # # # # # # # # # # #
"G"? it stands for Goooooood..

Igor The Cat
Aug-22-2004, 11:29pm
good job pat!!!!
(So it sounded better than that prucha a at greg boyds,eh!lol)


Sep-30-2004, 9:38pm
Aesthetically, this "G" style is superb. I'm certain that owning one would cure me (totally) of scroll envy! I'm intrigued by the reports of crisp attack and resounding bass, too. Gotta go out and buy a couple of Power Ball tickets.... http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif


Sep-30-2004, 11:17pm
Paul builds some incredible instruments. #I got the chance to talk to him at the Symposium and he's the nicest guy. #I spent a good deal of time with his instruments and they were all incredible...my personal favorite was the archtop octave mando (I fell in love with that thing!). I took some pictures of it and they were posted on the Symposium website today. The newer asymmetrical mandos are just great...they have a way different (better IMO) response and character from any traditional F5 style instrument.
Next time I need a new instrument I know EXACTLY where I'm going!

Oct-01-2004, 8:24am
Perhaps Paul can answer my question...

How do you deal with the higher string tension due to the longer scale length on your G? Do you use lighter guage strings, or brace the heck out of the soundboard and use a railroad tie as a truss rod? I typically use J74s for their "increased" volume (i.e., higher tension driving the soundboard) and rich harmonic content. But, I can't imagine putting them on a longer scale. Talk about bleeding fingers! :-)


John Rosett
Oct-01-2004, 4:55pm
i have had a G mando since july. it is a prototype. i can't speak to the construction issues, although i'll tell you that the body is very light, and the neck is pretty big. when you're holding it in your hands, it seems neck-heavy, but on the strap, the balance is fine.
i tried j-74's and found them to be too high tension. i've tried ghs silk and steel, and they were good. i just put on a set of lighter gauge (.010 E) phosphor bronze, and they are fine also. i think that the thomastik mediums would work well, but i haven't tried them yet.
the longer scale and wider fingerboard took a little getting used to, but i don't even notice it now.

Patrick Gunning
Oct-06-2004, 5:53pm
Well good news on this one. The good news is that Paul tells me he will begin starting construction on my mandolin at the end of the month - a lot sooner than I had hoped. Maybe I will have it in time for wintergrass - who knows (well, Paul probably knows, but he hasn't gotten back to me with a timeframe - no hurry Paul). Now if I can just find the money I need to pay for it... Ah well, where there's a great mandolin, there's a way. It's good to see somebody else interested in the G-styles. As for the scale and string issues, I don't remember what strings he had on the instrument, though it didn't seem like a finger-killer at all. Surprisingly, the longer scale didn't seem to make much of a playability difference at all. Though as a player of guitar, mando, fiddle, and some bouzouki, I think the top eighth of an inch in my fingers in my left hand are dead anyway. Now I can just keep pacing around waiting for an update.

Jan-01-2005, 12:55am
I'm very interested in the Jazzbo. Can anyone tell me more about it?

Scott Tichenor
Jan-02-2005, 9:51am
My plan is to go to WinterGrass this year with the idea of looking into ordering a Jazzbo. I played a couple last year and was knocked out by them. May go with a four-stringer. There's is an eight-stringer for sale at Greg Boyd's (http://www.gregboyd.com/img.asp?img=/images/mandolins/ArrowJazzBo_1.jpg) right now. There are 5-6 other pix of that one if you navigate to their main mandolin page (http://www.gregboyd.com/mando.html). He really has the sound dialed in on these. They're big and loud, like a hollow body jazz guitar which is what appeals to me.

John Rosett
Jan-02-2005, 10:52am
i was really knocked out by the 5-string jazzbo that i played at weiser this past summer. i really didn't think that a single-strung mando could sound that good. i played it at a couple of jam sessions, and it cut right through.
the jazzbo at greg boyd's is a really unique sounding mandolin. it shares tonal qualities with my arrow G, but it also has some of that archtop guitar tone. i think that a 5-string one with a floating pickup at the end of the fingerboard would be fun.

Patrick Gunning
Jan-04-2005, 12:56am
I just visited Paul in Mosier after christmas, and got to play some more of his instruments and check out the progress on mine. He says it will probably be delivered at Wintergrass. If John and Paul and I show up, the entire G-style population will be there I think. I played the single-string Jazzbos for the first time and really loved them, they offered really surprising strong tone and lots of interesting possibilities.
Anyways, if I get the mando at Wintergrass it will have one heck of a four day break in.

As for softshell, I'd go to Paul's site (check his sig above) and send off an e-mail to him. I would only do a poor job of representing these instruments, but I'll tell you that they're very, very good.

John Rosett
Jan-05-2005, 8:21am
i'm going to try to make wintergrass. who knows?
i think that paul's brother has one also, and i think that he lives in ohio. maybe paul can get him to come out so we can have a wall of G!

Jan-13-2005, 2:11pm
Will Work For Mando