View Full Version : Latest Hester F5

Gail Hester
Nov-15-2009, 1:39am
Here are a few pictures of my latest F5 mandolin. Thank you to the new owner (who has been so patient, tolerent and good natured about the whole thing:) ) for allowing me to keep it long enough to take with us to Nashville last month. I had the great fortune and a lot of luck to be in the right places at the right times and was able to hear this mandolin played by some top players.

This one has a very old red spruce top and sugar maple back & sides. It sports a James hand-engraved tailpiece, dovetailed bone points, a Virzi and Macassar ebony bridge and fingerboard extender.

Here are some pictures from build to finish, I hope I didn’t post too many.:grin:

Gail Hester
Nov-15-2009, 1:41am

Gail Hester
Nov-15-2009, 1:43am
Finished pics...

Gail Hester
Nov-15-2009, 1:46am
Last ones, thank you for looking.

joshua collum
Nov-15-2009, 2:40am
That's... Incredible! Very well done. I'm sure the new owner will be loving it.

Nov-15-2009, 2:54am

Ivan Kelsall
Nov-15-2009, 3:26am
Gail - That is so very beautiful. Seeing the back 'in the white',i'd never realise that the grain would come out as it does (my lack of knowlege) - amazing,wonderful craftsmanship,
Ivan ;)

Nov-15-2009, 5:52am
now there's a sunburst finish for ya... Loar would have been happy to sign the label on this one... great work Gail!

Scotti Adams
Nov-15-2009, 6:40am
Yes..so very, very nice. Great work Gail.

Nov-15-2009, 7:03am

Nov-15-2009, 7:21am
That is a beauty! Excellent work all around, but your carving is really really nice. The first round of pics make me want to build a mando and leave it natural.

Susan H.
Nov-15-2009, 7:40am
Gail, that is beautiful. I'm getting MAS just looking at it! I bet that sounds as beautiful as it looks too. :grin:

Nov-15-2009, 11:13am
Congratulations, Gail. Glassweb couldn't have said it better.


Jill McAuley
Nov-15-2009, 11:46am
Absolutely gorgeous!


Nov-15-2009, 11:59am
Just beautiful Gail. Amazing vintage vibe and artistry. Sound clips?

Pete Martin
Nov-15-2009, 1:12pm
Very nicely done!

Nov-15-2009, 2:04pm
Jaw dropping! that is one beautiful mandolin! Great work!

Skip Kelley
Nov-15-2009, 2:15pm
Gail, That is simply awesome! The mandolin is perfect in every way! You sure have that old 20's burst down to perfection! Thanks for sharing those pictures!

Nov-15-2009, 2:48pm
Yeah...yeah...yeah...It's nice looking, but how's the sound?....Well I can tell you from experience, this thing is awesome! I personally observed several top name players bang out some tunes on this mandolin. It sounded great, and they were all extremely impressed. Gail has put a great deal of time and effort into learning and perfecting her craft, and it's paid off big time.

Nov-15-2009, 5:26pm
Hey Gail, don't tell me that you finally broke down and handed that mandolin over its rightful owner?
Wow, very nice!

Nov-15-2009, 7:51pm
I'm trying convince the new owner into uploading a YouTube clip... although that type of stuff is challenging for him....and he doesn't seem to have the time to do it because he can't stop playing the dang thing!

G. Fisher
Nov-15-2009, 8:12pm
Aren't you the new owner Geoff?

If you don't have time to make a video send it to me and I'll make sure to get a few done. :grin:

Nov-15-2009, 8:28pm
Delicious! Great work, Gail!! Let's hear some sound clips. I wanna hear what that Virzi-Thingie does to it!

Ben Milne
Nov-15-2009, 9:07pm
Stunning. Can't wait to hear clips of it.

Chris Biorkman
Nov-15-2009, 10:20pm
Beautiful work.

Bill Halsey
Nov-16-2009, 1:29am
Thank you for posting that, Gail -- very exciting work, indeed. Congratulations!

Gail Hester
Nov-16-2009, 3:58am
It has been years since I first posted pictures here and while I knew this was a great place back then I didn't know anyone. As I look at everyone's nice comments I realize how wonderful it is that I have met in person, talked on the phone or exchanged emails with almost everyone. Your comments mean so much to me, thank you.

Nov-16-2009, 5:32am

like I said in the Nashville thread, we all need soundclips and/or a video. Im glad that Im not the only BG-patrol-person out there that misses just that. But its just that (soundclips). Otherwise Im pretty much impressed with what I see. Congrats for the really nice work.

Skip Kelley
Nov-16-2009, 7:26am
Gail, How do you like the sound of that mandolin with it's virzi? Inquiring minds would like to know:grin:

Nov-16-2009, 8:30am
That is incredible. Such tallent

Eric Hanson
Nov-16-2009, 8:43am
Absolutely Stunning.
A thing of beauty in the right hands is a wonderful thing.
Congrats on your latest and the well deserved praise!

Nov-16-2009, 8:59am
I like how you used the vintage Gibson sticker, like what was in the Loars. Lovely mandolin!

Nov-16-2009, 9:05am
Beautiful mandolin Gail! Keep 'em coming!

Kirk Albrecht
Nov-16-2009, 9:19am
simply beautiful work, Gail. You really get the geometry of the scroll. And your sunbursts are just wonderful.

If I ever had the money for a custom build, you would be at the top of the list.

Gail Hester
Nov-16-2009, 8:31pm
I don't have any sounds clips of this mandolin and I find it awkward describing my own mandolins. I'll just say that I was very pleased with this one and hopefully Geoff will post a clip and give his opinion of the Virzi.

As to the Virzi questions, I have posted this before. I think the effect of a Virzi is very well suited for oval hole instruments, as they add a little sonic top compression which creates even volume across the strings, along with an adding what I percieve as an ethereal (Dan B.’s word but it’s a good one) chorus effect and sustain. The best sounding H4 I’ve ever heard had a Virzi.

They work well in f-hole mandolins as well but on the old ones everyone seems to want to know what they would sound like without it and consequently many have been removed. I don’t think the Virzi will make or break a great instrument and conversely will not improve a bad instrument. They are just interesting little thingies that make life more interesting. I’ve put them in a half dozen instruments and they all sounded good.

For the record, I usually try to talk customers out of having one installed because I want them to decide on their own if they really want one in the instrument.

Nov-17-2009, 10:53am
Gail..... AWESOME!!!!!

Rob Fowler
Nov-17-2009, 11:14am
I'm having trouble typing on my keyboard with all my slobber all over it from salivating over that instrument! WOW!!

I need to come up to Washington and get one of those when I win the lottery! :popcorn:

Nov-17-2009, 1:23pm
Ok.... I promise to make an attempt at recording and posting some sound/video clips this weekend (it is not really my forte, but Chuck will coach me on the technical stuff):grin:

I am always reluctant to provide my opinion of how a mando sounds, because it is just that...my opinion. Reviews can be very subjective, and I try to avoid flowery descriptors, etc. Unfortunately, I just can't contain myself with this one, so.... I can tell you this about how it sounds and plays...I have never been so overwhelmed and inspired by an instrument in my life....it pushes me to play better and more, and makes me never want to stop playing! I feel as though my playing has jumped up a few notches!! Kind of weird. I've never experienced that before. Gail absolutely nailed the tone I was looking for....and it's only a few weeks old!

I have never played a mando with a Virzi prior to this, so I have no tonal referrence point to compare too. None the less, the way I hear it, the notes are more focused, and ring out a bit more... by that I mean you can hear every nuance of every note.... nothing muddy or "out of focus" and....it is quite loud to boot. It seems to amplify all of my favorite tonal characteristics of a red spruce, tone bar top, really delivering that hard, punch you in the nose, BG sound in spades. Coaxing what I call "Loar-like whining" out of the treble strings is almost effortless. It turbo charges my Monroe riffs....

I have owned a lot of very nice mandolins in my life, by some of the most talented/gifted builders out there, and while those were all magical in their own ways, none of them have ever spoken to me the way this one does. It is quite a stunning mandolin to look at too! But you've all seen the pictures....

The real cherry on top has been getting to know Gail and Chuck over the time this was being built. They are truly wonderful people, and I am proud to have them as friends. Gail has a real gift here, and I feel very fortunate to own one of her magnificent creations. Thanks Gail!! :mandosmiley:

joshua collum
Nov-17-2009, 3:39pm
Have you shown this to the guys at Pioneer Music yet. They'll be real jealous I'm sure. Looks like you got a good one! Do you play in a band or around town? I'd like to hear this thing. Congratulations!!!! Enjoy.

Skip Kelley
Nov-17-2009, 3:59pm
Geoff, That is one fine review! Congratulations!

Mando Gil
Nov-26-2009, 8:34am
I've got a Hester snakehead, it has been a/b'ed with several old Gibsons and some similar models made by current builders. In several of situations the other player has asked for Gail's info, I would think that is a pretty big endorsement. Seeing as how my snakehead stands up next to other oval holes, I wouldn't be surprised if her F's standup next to all the current builders and the classic models. Happy Thanksgiving!

mike fin
Nov-26-2009, 8:56am
Wow that is really nice work. And it seems like it really paid off.
Great review too.:)

Mark Walker
Nov-26-2009, 10:20am
Stellar effort Gail! I had to look twice at the one picture of the back (in post #2) with the 'blob' on it - until I got the enlarged view I thought it was missing some finish or something! (It was just glare!)

Quite beautiful! :)

Nov-26-2009, 10:42am
Fantastic! Congratulations to the maker and new owner.

Nov-26-2009, 12:31pm
A Virzi kinda gal!!
Neat work; hope it finds a great custodian.

Nov-26-2009, 12:55pm
congrats to both Gail on making such a beautiful inst., and Geoff for ownership!

Patrick Gunning
Nov-26-2009, 5:41pm
I'm late coming to the party on this one, but what a fantastic job, Gail. Glad to hear the new owner's enjoying it, but sad (in a selfish sort of way) because I won't be able to play it when I'm back in Washington in December.

Keep up the amazing work!

Nov-26-2009, 10:02pm
Congratulations Geoff on your new baby. Amazing labor of love Gail, I'm always impressed by people who create beauty and make this world a better place to be. Thank you both for sharing.

Nov-26-2009, 10:03pm
That's just incredibly impressive. Sure wish I could make one as nice as that.

Dec-03-2009, 4:29pm
Congratulations on your trip to Nashville....sounds like a success.....all I can think to say is build more , repair less....looking forward to some sound bites....

Tom Glen
Dec-07-2009, 8:18pm
Gail, this mandolin is truly a work of art. This is truly one of the most beautiful mandolins that I have had the pleasure of viewing. Geoff's review confirms that this mandolin also sounds fantastic. I was not surprised when I read Geoff's review. I have heard several of your mandolins and they all sound fantastic. Congratulations to you for building this fabulous mandolin and to Geoff for being the proud owner.

Cheryl Watson
Mar-11-2010, 7:37pm
Gail, that mandolin is a real looker! PERFECT color. I want to hear a sound clip (really badly).

Pete Martin
Mar-12-2010, 12:54pm
Very well done Gail!!