View Full Version : Warm Sound with Sustain

Feb-11-2004, 4:23pm
I am looking for a flatback mandolin that has a warm sound with some sustain.
Simon Mayer (in describing the sound he liked) said something like "A sound with the note having a bloom after the initial attack- like a classical guitar."
Can anyone recommend any modern builders that make something like that? ($1500- 5000)

Jim M.
Feb-11-2004, 4:37pm
Simon Mayor uses a carved mandolin from Vanden. You can see his work at:

For an American builder, I'd say check with Michael Lewis, who often comments here:

Michael makes some great bluegrass mandolins, but he does some really interesting other kinds of mandolins too, and he is renowned for his guitars.

I'd also recommend Brentrup. My oval-hole Brentrup is very warm and has great sustain. Hans is also a great guy to work with.

You should also check out the SOS mando that Dan B. just put up for sale in the classifieds.
http://www.mandolincafe.com/cgi-bin....trieval (http://www.mandolincafe.com/cgi-bin/classifieds/classifieds.cgi?search_and_display_db_button=on&db_id=8660&query=retrieval)

Bob DeVellis
Feb-11-2004, 6:18pm
Well, we've discussed Vega cylinder-backs in these parts lately and they certainly fit the bill of a warm sound with sustain. Martin flatbacks are somewhat less warm (brighter) but sure have sustain. Old Gibsons can sound warm and have reasonable sustain but I think the Vega cylinder-backs come the closest to the fat sound I think you're talking about. At the high end of your price range, you could buy an F-4 AND a cylinder-back, with some change to spare.

There may well be a whole pile of new instruments out there that are also good.

Feb-11-2004, 6:28pm
I second the vega cylinderback. I bought one at an auction a few years back before I played much. I loved it, but promptly sold it to a gentleman in Ireland. I REALLY regret getting rid of it. They are gems. I know you are looking for a higher priced mando, but on mon., I played a Mid Mo. Some sort of a VS (violin scale 13 inches) model with walnut back and sides. It had amazing sustain and beautiful bell like trebles.

Feb-11-2004, 6:28pm
Don't know about flatbacks but my input would be to go w/Red Maple back,sides and neck for the warmth part of the equation. Sounds like a great goal to me. Good luck w/the search.

Feb-11-2004, 7:14pm
I guess I didn't mean I'm looking for only a flatback.
I just meant I didn't want a bowlback.

Wow, thanks everyone for all these ideas so far.

Luthier Vandross
Feb-11-2004, 8:50pm
I may have the mandolin you want, you like pumkin tops? Super fiddle sides, and back, super sustain.

If you have any intrest in it, I can get pictures for you.


Ted Eschliman
Feb-11-2004, 9:12pm
I will second the Michael Lewis recommendation. I've been gettting very intimate with one of his "Django (http://www.michaellewisinstruments.com/django.php)" models the past two weeks. Once you get past the absolutely mesmerizing finish work and detail, and play something, it's the warm sustain that captivates you.
I'm not familiar with his bluegrass instruments, but the jazz style ones really promise to take mandolin luthiery into the 21st century.

Feb-11-2004, 10:46pm
www.kennaquhair.com (doug dieter)

the tone is superb and the sustain is miraculous for such a small instrument. made like an old selmer -mac in the sense that it has induced arches (pressed rather than carved).but the workmanship is great and the sound is super.

Feb-12-2004, 12:54am
Sephan Sobel. His mandolins are glorious, with cathedral like tone and sustain that lasts forever. I suggest spruce/rosewood.

Steve L
Feb-12-2004, 5:41am
If I could get any mando I wanted without worry about cost, it would be a Sobel. I think they have the sound you describe. A totally subjective opinion and no slight to any other makers mentioned here.

Feb-12-2004, 7:46am
The common thread here seems to be towards Oval hole instruments. I agree fully - there are a few others in the historical mix which are available and a LOT cheaper than a Vega Cylinder back or a Michael Lewis (drool). An instrument maker which appears fairly regularly on eBay and at several of the Vintage dealers is - Larson. These were made between 1904 and 1940 and can be labled under at least five different names (Stahl, Larson, Maurer, Dyer, Euphonon, Prarie State etc).

Interestingly, these were the patent design models for induced arch instruments and - for a tiny, itty bitty mandolin have an enormous sound. I have two rosewood, "flatback" instruments, both are strung with Black Diamonds and both are huge sounding with tremendous sustain and silk like playability. At this time, they are going for a ridiculously low amount and - while problems do happen in any older instrument, at least worth looking into. The sound is bigger than my Gibson's, the playability is better than my Sawchyn A2.

Martin Jonas
Feb-12-2004, 11:48am
Martin flatbacks are somewhat less warm (brighter) but sure have sustain. #
There's one of those for sale at the moment at E-bay UK (http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=3702970394&category=10179). It's at 255 Pounds at the moment (about $400), but hasn't reached its reserve yet.

(no connection with the seller, nor indeed with Martin mandolins)

Jim Garber
Feb-12-2004, 12:26pm
It sounds from your initial post like you are looking for a builder, not vintage. In any case, we can talk till we are blue in the face about all this, but prob it would be best for you to get out there and play as many mandolins as you can. All this is so subjective. Also, you may find the tone but not the playability you desire or vice versa.

BTW what are you playing right now? I assume that that instrument does not give you the satisfaction or the tone you desire?


Dan Adams
Feb-12-2004, 7:36pm
There are some great suggestions for current builders. #I have a friend with a Bussman that is great for susstain. #For a flattop; my 83' Flatiron 2M is a really nice Celtic mandolin and rings like crystal. #The ultimate in my collection is the 17' Gibson A-model. #It's a great way to feel the music through the body of the instrument. #Good Luck in the search!

All That Glitters is not Scrolled, Dan

Richard Polf
Feb-12-2004, 9:09pm
Oh, well, here goes...

A Tacoma M3 --- great sustain, sweet tone.

Richard Polf