View Full Version : Laura Ratcliff #6

Sep-16-2004, 7:30pm
Here we go. Its an early one, so there are rough spots, but man does it sound good!

The front

Sep-16-2004, 7:36pm
Close up

Sep-16-2004, 7:40pm

Sep-16-2004, 7:44pm
The neck

Sep-16-2004, 7:47pm
One last one, showing off the pretty flamed sides...

Sep-16-2004, 7:50pm
All and all, an outstanding value. A custom made mandolin with radiused fretboard, Italian Spruce top, one piece back, and slightly wider, v-shaped (and very comfy) neck. Laura's building has improved in fit and finish of late (she's in her late 20s now) but there is nothing funny about the tone. All that for the price of a A+ Deluxe.

Sep-17-2004, 1:29pm
To an unducated newbie on this board, that tone gard could appear to be some sort of magazine rack, or a place to hold your beginner's mandolin chord book. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif

Sep-17-2004, 1:45pm
Hey Jason!!! - Great pics!! - Great mando... - Good choice! Play away.... hee.. hee.. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/mandosmiley.gif http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/wink.gif

Sep-17-2004, 6:49pm
Hey Moose! Thanks a bunch for "letting this one get away"! I really enjoy it every day. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/cool.gif

Sep-18-2004, 7:59am
Lkie the over all shape, seems slightly wider than the gibson A. Also like that diagonal curl in the grain on the back.

Sep-18-2004, 11:07am
I haven't figured out how that wood is cut--the actual grain runs tailpiece to headstock, but the flame runs obliquely. Some sort of off centered slab cut? Spruce?

Sep-18-2004, 12:49pm
"I haven't figured out how that wood is cut--the actual grain runs tailpiece to headstock, but the flame runs obliquely. Some sort of off centered slab cut?"

It's rare seeing the flame roll off at such a large angle to the grain, but it does happen...
It would be interesting to see a chunk of this same tree cut on the quarter.

Sep-22-2004, 11:44am
Thanks Spruce.

Ken, it is a little wider than a Gibson, and if you look really carefully, you will note it is slightly asymmetric too.

I just discovered that I missed downloading the *in focus* picture of the headstock from the camera--its attached below. I wanted to be sure you could see the pretty figure on it!

Tom C
Sep-22-2004, 12:11pm
Double action grommets. Above nut and below bridge.

Sep-22-2004, 1:08pm
Good photos, better mando. Interesting to see how Laura's designs have changed. My #17 received honorable mention for new builders at one of those convention things. The tone is really quite nice all over the neck and the neck is also quite comfy. These are photos from Ebay when I bought it last year.

Sep-22-2004, 1:11pm
The neck profile she uses is unique,a rounded V, which works really well on the slightly wider neck. Actually by the 12th fret the neck width is just about regular.

Sep-22-2004, 1:12pm
The script R seems to be a regular feature on her mandolins now.

Sep-22-2004, 1:17pm
By the time #28 came out she changed the headstock.

Ken Sager
Sep-22-2004, 1:23pm
I really like that tortoise/white/black binding, and the shape of #28's headstock is quite pleasing, too.

Sep-22-2004, 1:29pm
Tom: since I had a new nut installed the strings ring like a bell after chop chords up there, and needed some dampening. At least I found a use for the larger grommets in the bag! My instructor uses a piece of felt to the same ends on his Givens.

FYI, she has changed the neck fit at sound board to a more standard setup, with an extra block above the sound board, rather than the sound board articulating directly with the fretboard elevation as in mine and Lee's. I see she is also using Grover tuners now. Mine are...something pretty cheap. They are the next item to be upgraded.

Lee, your mando looks fantastic! Mine has also been receiving high praise at jams. I just have to improve my picking technique to amp up the volume to fight three banjos! :cool:

Sep-22-2004, 1:31pm
Lee, #28 looks like a standard width at the nut. Or is it the angle of the photograph?

Sep-23-2004, 11:00am
Laura still writes up the description mentioning the slightly wider neck. I'm not sure who bought #28 but check out the back.

Sep-23-2004, 11:04am
When these photos hit Ebay I had to keep them. Here's another of the rear. On mine the sunburst has a warmth to it, might be because it's not super glossy.

Sep-23-2004, 9:53pm
Very nice! The combo of tortoise and honey is really attractive

Sep-24-2004, 11:29am
What's that, you want more?

Sep-24-2004, 11:06pm
That photo shows well how she has changed the sound box to a more typical, and symmetrical, size. You can also see the change in neck-to-soundbox attachment, with the external block for the dovetail. I wonder how our necks are attached Lee? I stuck a dental mirror inside mine and saw no bolt, so a different sort of dovetail? And I love the shape of those f holes http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/laugh.gif

Sep-27-2004, 11:06am
I'll have to go back and review Ken and Laura's emails. At some point I believe my #17 was described as doweled and I think #28's neck joint has been changed.

mad dawg
Sep-27-2004, 11:47am
I'm with Jason, #28's honey color with tortoise shell binding takes my breath away. When I saw it on eBay I wasn't able to convince the wife I needed it http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/sad.gif (I hope it went to a good home.)

Sep-27-2004, 12:51pm
Is this the shot that made you go ga-ga?

Sep-27-2004, 12:53pm
This one shows the highlights in the tortoise.

mad dawg
Sep-27-2004, 1:31pm
Yep -- that's it!

Oct-06-2004, 1:21am
Hey mad dawg,

Next time you are down here to visit with your customer in Brea, give me a shout, and you can get an idea for the tone of Laura's mandos. I did have "Katherine" up your way last March at the CoMando get together at Inverness--were you there by any chance?

mad dawg
Oct-06-2004, 8:54am
Jason -- Thanks; I would love to check out your mando next time I'm down there. I missed the CoMando gathering, but I might be taking on a new project with my customer in Brea, so I'll drop you a note when I swing down your way.


Oct-13-2004, 11:17am
Looks like that very same blond/tortoise Laura Ratcliff mandolin just hit the classifieds. #I recall there was a winner on EBay; the deal must have gone under.

Oct-13-2004, 1:24pm
I was wondering if it was the same one or a sister. Looks like you PhotoShopped the image levels a bit Lee? Nice price, nice mando, no financial interest on my part; just a happy owner.

Oct-14-2004, 12:13pm
Nah, I just "save photo as" the pictures off the old Ebay listing and re-posted here. #I emailed the Ebay winner to learn how she would like it when it arrived but never got a response. I wonder if it's been re-listed there too?

Dec-06-2004, 12:29am
Hey Lee, not to resurrect this old thread, but I have recorded a few tracks that, despite my playing and cheap recording set up, gives one an idea how #6 sounds. If you're interested, I can convert these short clips to *.mp3 and post them to my web space for a listen. (That is, if I can get my web space working; in a year and a half I've never fussed with it...)

Dec-06-2004, 11:57am
Cool, post away. I'd like to hear them.

Dec-06-2004, 12:51pm
Yes, Jason..., by all means do it... hee.. hee.. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/mandosmiley.gif http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/laugh.gif

Dec-07-2004, 12:05am
ok, let see how this works...

First off, this was recorded into a microphone at the end of a set of headphones--we don't need no condensor mics! Also keep in mind that 1) I am fairly new and 2) this is my first musical instrument. I think I *mostly* am keeping time...

Whskey Before Breakfast (http://webpages.charter.net/janderson909/whiskey_before_breakfast.mp3)
Cukoos Nest with Wegen pick (http://webpages.charter.net/janderson909/cuckoos_nest_wegen.mp3)
Cuckoos Nest with Ultex 1.14 (http://webpages.charter.net/janderson909/cuckoos_nest_ultex.mp3)

Dec-07-2004, 12:23pm
Bravo Jasona! ##6 sounds sweet. #I'll have to get me one of those Wegen picks too.

Dec-07-2004, 1:05pm
Thanks for you kind words. It is more mandolin than I deserve, that's for sure.

I can't decide between the picks...the m150 accents the highs and lows, while the ultex brings out the mids, and sounds more sweet in an oval hole sort of way.

Apr-25-2007, 1:12pm
Happy birthday! My mandolin just turned 5! It has developed tremendously over this time--sounds wonderful! Value still exists in the mandolin world.

Mark Walker
Apr-25-2007, 1:22pm
Jason - Congrats on birthday #5 for Laura Ratcliff #6!

Interesting to look at a 3+ year-old thread and see the development of her mandolins. Ratcliff #18, #31 and #33 are within 10 miles of me, and are all top-notch instruments in fit, tone and quality.

A guy in Anchorage, AK just bought her latest within the last month, and he told me it's quite the rage at his music store! (So much so he's having Ken build him an F5 for the store.)

Glad to see 'your' luthier making inroads throughout the United States - including Alaska!

Enjoy! http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif

Apr-25-2007, 3:37pm
I happened to notice this thread today and thought I would post these pictures of my Ratcliff (Ken) Silver Eagle, from the late 90s. I don't have the SN handy, but I found the similarities interesting between this one and the early Laura Ratcliffs, esp. in the headstock shape and "R" script:

Apr-25-2007, 3:39pm
Here's the whole front shot:

Apr-25-2007, 5:27pm
There is the same asymmetry to the body too, with the slight point on the treble side. Do any of your upper strings hit the lower posts? My headstock is just a tad too narrow, although this does not affect the tone at all. I note the Ratcliffs no longer use my head stock shape, going for a wider, and more elegant, look.

Apr-26-2007, 10:46am
There is the same asymmetry to the body too, with the slight point on the treble side.

Jasona, I had never noticed an asymetry in the body, and I'm still not seeing what you mean even after looking back at your pictures?

[QUOTE]Do any of your upper strings hit the lower posts? My headstock is just a tad too narrow, although this does not affect the tone at all. [QUOTE]

I think some of the strings may touch the lower string posts on their way to the nut, or come very close, but I think this happens on some of my other intruments too - for ex, the Gibson paddle headstock. #Another feature is that this headstock has very shallow angle with the fingerboard, and the nut is very low - the strings nearly touch the truss rod cover behind the nut. #

It has a great-feeling, deep neck and the radiused FB and large frets make playing close to effortless. The only thing it needs is a replaced nut to be able to hear the best out of it; it has lovely tone but the nut is so low that you have to play fairly gently to avoid buzz.

Apr-27-2007, 11:01pm
Jasona, I had never noticed an asymetry in the body, and I'm still not seeing what you mean even after looking back at your pictures?
It looks to me that where the sides come off the neckblock there is a deeper, more abrupt inflection on the treble side (indicated by the top arrows). I think that below the treble F hole the side comes to a slight point (indicated by th elower arrows). Its really slight, but I notice each time I put on my toneguard (a symmetrical standard right on the thing). Makes me think that these mandolins were made in the same jig. Mind you, it doesn't bother me in the least.

In fact, I'm off to pick on it a little now! http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/mandosmiley.gif