View Full Version : '70's Ome A5

Nov-16-2004, 11:24am
Well, here is the replacement for my dear departed Henderson F5. #I think I can live w/ this one for awhile. #The neck size and angle are a bit different for me, but the tone and playability is excellent.

This is an Ome A5 that was made while Mike Kemnitzer (Nugget mandolins) was at Ome in the early 70's. #It's hard to know exactly what Kemnitzer's connection was to their short-lived mandolin production. He built the first two prototypes, after that it's unclear. One camp says he supervised production of the first 30 mandos; some say he was just a luthier in the shop and left soon after the prototypes.

This A5 has some similarities to the info I find regarding Tim O'Brien's early Nugget: #the large neck profile, flower and vine headstock inlay, the stylized cut at the end of the fingerboard, little deeper mandolin body (I've compared the depth to that of my soon-to-be gone Henderson and this mando is deeper by a binding width). #

Mandolin is very loud, yet has a very balanced, sweet tone with a well-defined treble (no brittleness at all). #I'm by no means putting it on the level of O'Brien's A, but, man, there are similarities when I try to play something like Blue Night or Walk Beside Me.

Any case, don't know if I can call this my new love, since I'm still getting over my Henderson, but it's a fine replacement. #Still getting over the loss of scrolls and points, but can't pass up the tone.

I have no clue about the case that came w/ it. #Don't know if handmade or original to it. #It looks like an F case. #Built like a tank. #Probably dates to the 70's.


Nov-16-2004, 11:25am

Nov-16-2004, 11:26am
another pic

Nov-16-2004, 11:27am

Nov-16-2004, 11:28am

Nov-16-2004, 11:28am

Nov-16-2004, 11:30am

Nov-16-2004, 11:31am

Nov-16-2004, 11:32am

Scotti Adams
Nov-16-2004, 11:46am
..very nice....Ive got A envy...

Nov-16-2004, 11:54am

I've got BRW envy. I've looked at enough of your recent pictures to think about getting a BRW. That Heirloom went through my head when I saw it posted.


Jim Hilburn
Nov-16-2004, 11:58am
When you think about the time, these are pretty much the only production mandolins that were really good at this time. This is when Gibson was at their worst, and Nugget was just getting started, and there were no Gilchrist's yet. Several independent builders were doing good work then, like Bob Givens,but as far as coming from a production shop, this is all I can think of. Pretty far ahead of their time.

Nov-16-2004, 12:58pm

Have you run this mandolin past Mike K.?

Might be an interesting way to proceed...

Nov-16-2004, 1:07pm

That is a fine, powerful mandolin. I had the chance to play it about 6 weeks ago. Great instrument and history.

Nov-16-2004, 1:17pm
Haven't run it past Kemnitzer. Outside of his PO Box address, don't know how to get hold of him. Anyone have an email or would be willing to email for me to Mike K?


Nov-16-2004, 1:31pm
Why did your Henderson go away?

Nov-16-2004, 2:02pm
I'll forward it to mike right now..

Nov-16-2004, 2:18pm

My Henderson went away due to financial reasons. It was better for me to sell it, buy a slightly cheaper mando, and use the difference for bills. We just took on a mortgage as well as a car payment this year and it seems we may need to replace our heat pump. Would rather pay for it w/ cash than additional credit.

I really liked that Henderson, but I've taken enough pictures of it, that maybe somewhere down the road I'll have someone make me one like it--main unique spec was the super skinny neck.


Nov-16-2004, 2:27pm
Here's some stuff about Kemnitzer and Ome from a Tim OBrien interview that I read in a Vintage Guitar article awhile back. #Found it in the archive at vguitar.com:

(Q) When did you get your first good mando?

I got my Nugget in ’76.

(Q) How did you become aware of Mike Kemnitzer?

He was a friend of folks I’d known in West Virginia – actually from across the stateline in Ohio – John and Zeke Hutchison.

(Q)It’s like a really early Nugget, isn’t it?

Yes. I want to say it’s like the fourth or fifth one. There’s one at Brantley, there’s one that Ed Neff has, and one that Howie Tarnower has, and I think this is the fourth. It’s the first A Model Nugget.

(Q) I know Kemnitzer was at OME Banjos for awhile, making mandos.

Right. He did an OME prototype mandolin or two, an F-5 and an A-5, during the same time he was making this one for me. Those guys I knew him through got him inspired in bluegrass music. There was a guy named Bob White who made mandolins and worked with Stewart McDonald, where all those people kinda hung out. So Bob helped Mike learn how to make mandolins, and I think did the finish work on his first couple of mandolins.

Nov-16-2004, 2:42pm
Grabbed this headstock photo from the Mandolin Archive. Details comparison in headstock inlay between a Nugget A and this Ome A. Kemnitzer's design, even if he didn't construct it, seem evident.


Scotti Adams
Nov-16-2004, 2:50pm

I've got BRW envy. #I've looked at enough of your recent pictures to think about getting a BRW. #That Heirloom went through my head when I saw it posted.


Nov-18-2004, 8:21am
OK, Here's Mike's take on that mandolin in his own words:

I don't believe the Ome mandolin pictured is one of the prototypes I made. I went to work for them in the fall of 1974 after a failed attempt to set up mandolin headquarters in the the San Francisco area.

I hired on at Ome for minimum wage to keep from going back to Ohio and to learn about how they made those beautiful banjos. The owners almost immediately started talking about making mandolins and after hours I made two prototypes while they watched; an A and a black F. They were not the greatest, I was not allowed to redo anything that went wrong and they vetoed they way I wanted to do certain things. (Hey, they were paying me that minimum wage!) I worked at Ome as a regular employee for about a year, mostly shaping the heels and hand stops on necks, routing inlay pockets and doing mill work.

After quitting to pursue my mandolin making and to work in a fiddle shop, I was hired to make mandolin tooling for them, and as part of my pay and as "proof of the tooling" I made three more prototypes using Ome's wood. I personally sold those three instruments. One now resides here in Michigan near me, one is played in the group The Uppity Blues Women and the third was sold to a friend of Tim O'Brien's. In spite of what many folks were told, all the Ome mandolins except my prototypes were built after I was no longer working there. After leaving, I did hand cut thirty some sets of inlay for them, (the mandolin in question does have one of those sets). As well, after leaving I did the heel and resonator carving on their high end instruments until I moved to Michigan in 1981.

Some of those Ome mandolins are very good instruments but I had no hand in their construction. Ome deserves all the credit.

Mike Kemnitzer

Jim Hilburn
Nov-18-2004, 8:57am
The #2 "A" prototype had a neckset issue that never bothered me, but the guy I sold it to got Ome to have Mike re-set it. It also had a very plain back with no figure. But believe me, it was a crusher. I lived on Canyon St. in Boulder across a 4 lane from the justice center which had big pre-stressed walls. I'd sit on the front porch and hit chops and the echo would come back off those walls nearly as loud as the original chop.
I still have very strong memories of going to the Ome shop, even though it's been nearly 30 years now, with that smell of lacquer in the air. When I first went there, I remember vividly talking to one of the shop managers about the mandolin and while I hadn't met him, Mike was at a work station carving one of those fancy banjo resonators.

Nov-18-2004, 11:01am
nice pictures Jim, what did you take those with? settings? Thanks.

Nov-18-2004, 11:45am
"I don't believe the Ome mandolin pictured is one of the prototypes I made."

This confirms my opinion about a lot of the Mandolin Brother's hyperbolic descriptions of the instruments they have for sale...

This one, on face value, is a lawyer's wet dream... # http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/rock.gif

Nov-18-2004, 12:19pm
wow! great to get the scoop strait from the source, thanks dan!

did i read the vibe right in that post by mike??
looks like mike k. didnt have such rosey relationship with ome management. he seems to "imply" things were not so agreeable. wouldnt that have been great if he HAD built a hundred or so pre-nuggets.

i'm in agreement with the mando bros listings, they can really be full of b.s. but at least they are more exciting than gruhns listings. you would think with all the hype they give their stuff, they would provide some better photos (like elderly). i dont think they were misleading in the ad though, that is just their style. their listings have ALWAYS been that flowery.
as the PH says, "now you know the rest of the story."

Nov-18-2004, 12:44pm
" i dont think they were misleading in the ad though"

Read it again....

"If it was mandolin #20 out of 50 then this, indeed, if you can stand another alliteration, clinches the Kemnitzer connection."

"In our opinion this mandolin says Mike Kemnitzer (later the founder and builder of Nugget Mandolins) all over it."

Granted, the instrument is very nice and sold for far less than Nugget A's are going for these days, but the deceptive description sure makes it sound like Mike K. built the mandolin to me...

Hell, I've only met Mike once, but one quick email confirmed that he had nothing to do with building the Ome I have. #

I sure Mandolin Brothers could have spent the same 30 seconds to find out the history of an instrument they were selling instead of heaping on the (patently false, as it turns out) hyperbole...

But, obviously, there was no incentive to do so....

Maybe I should copy their BS and post my mandolin again on the Cafe Classifieds (where it languished at 1500 bucks for 3 months) for 2700.00?

Seems to have worked for them...

Nov-18-2004, 1:58pm
I emailed Mike K.'s reply to Stan Jay at Mandolin Brothers today. #In the forward to my email, I explained that I got this reply today through Dan B. who runs the Mandolin Archive. #I told him that I doubted that the mandolin would have been priced at $3500 if Mike K. wasn't associated w/ it.

Stan emailed me back thanking me for my "thorough and commendable job" in researching the mandolin. #He said the published history was told to him by the last person who owned the instrument, who got it directly from the lady who co-founded Ome. #At the lady's request, Stan didn't quote her, he "paraphrased her without attribution."

Stan assured me that the mandolin was worth every bit of its price.

I thought about this email some and stewed it over. #I then went back to the message board to review Kemnitzer's email and read recent postings by Spruce and the like. #

I decided to call Stan. #I told him I'm sure he would not have priced this mandolin at $3500 if Mike K. wasn't associated with it. #I reminded him that he didn't want to deal with my Wayne Henderson F5 because he'd "never dealt w/ one in over 30 years in the business." #He couldn't get a fix for market price. #I said if this is true--and especially with Wayne's legendary reputation--how could he price a plain old Ome mandolin (w/ no Mike K. connection)? #He said that the mandolin is a gorgeous, superb mandolin and is worth every penny regardless and is only a little more than a Collings MT. #He told me that good mandolins cost money and that $3500 isn't that much for a good mandolin. #I told him for a person who has owned several $5K mandolins and was forced to sell his Henderson due to financial problems, $3500 is a lot (especially whenever I turn around to sell it, since I never hold onto anything very long). #This mandolin would be a boat anchor (though i guess, as Spruce joked, I could build up the Kemnitzer connection--he at least cut the inlay).

I am not impressed w/ any of my interactions w/ Stan. #I, the customer, should not come away feeling stupid, marginalized, or trifling. #Stan did agree to take the mandolin back, even though it was past the approval period. #Let's see how he relists the mandolin.

That being said, it was a fine mandolin, but probably much more appropriate in the $2200 to $2600 range--the price of a used Collings A.

Well, back on the look for a replacement mando. #Maybe I'll get an F2.


Tom C
Nov-18-2004, 2:25pm
That's great he made the offer to take it back. What more can you ask for? Win,Win situation.

Nov-18-2004, 2:32pm
I'm glad he's taking it back, but it would be nice that I'm not made to feel like a clod in the process.


Nov-18-2004, 3:00pm
well, when I read that ad a month or so ago, and being familiar with the usual flowery Mando Bros descriptions, I was pretty sceptical that it was indeed a MK pre-nugget mandolin. believe me, if there had been ANY doubt that this WAS his work, it would have been gone in less than 3 hours at that price.

their ads are alway infested with "could be's" and 'looks like". i remember a gibson archtop listing that they swore had "the hand of D'Angelico" on it at one time......so what? he was the only one in NYC during the jazz age that knew about (jazz) guitar construction, the fact that he did repairs on it doesnt make it a D'Angelico. its just a well repaired gibson guitar.

Now i am in advertising, so i read these things a little different. bottom line is it is listed as a Ome possibly made when MK was an employee. he could have made it or not??? they did open up a can of worms by not clearing up exactly where their sources were and done as spruce said, and get a definite answer. i mean, MK is still living and has a phone #. knowing MB, if they REALLY knew it was a MK, they would have said so (in even more elaberate terms), and listed that one at $8-10K.

now that being said, i would, as jim as done, ask what is the value of a basic 70's Ome A?? certainly they have padded in the possible MK connection with the price IMO...if it turns out, as it has, that he had no hand in it, then.....you got some leverage.

jim, i hate that things didnt work out with this mando, and having to part with a great Henderson is even worse. i was actually following this tread hoping you had scored the big one. it sure looks like a nice mando, and if it sounded and played good, i would just try to get them to discount with the now known facts. i would rather have a 70's ome than a new collins anyday.

Nov-18-2004, 3:25pm
Stan wasn't interested in discounting as he was confident that the mandolin was worth what he priced it at (this was why I received the lecture on high end mandolin prices). #At that point I preferred just to dump the mandolin and move on to something else. #There was no way they were going to discount down to the mid $2K range. #It's hard telling what they already have in it.

Reminds me of a mint mid 50's RB150 banjo at a local Guitar Center. #I would love to buy and convert it over to a tone ringed banjo, since it has the thick rim. #However, an RB150 is probably worth $1200 to $1500--they have it priced at $2550 and listed as an RB250. #I told them a year ago they have it mistakenly tagged--they've never corrected it. #I've tried to get them to sell it to me for $1500. #They won't since they bought it in for $1900. #So instead of discounting, they'll hang on it forever--mistagged--hoping someone who doesn't know better buys it.

In this case, I was the guy who didn't know any better with the Ome.

Any case, I think it's a good thing. #I've been itching to buy an old Gibson oval hole ever since selling my '27 F4. #I'm thinking about getting either an A2Z or an old maple backed F2--at least there I have some knowledge of their worth and pedigree.


Nov-18-2004, 3:44pm
Jim: Just read this thread and feeling lousey(something's rotten in Staten Island). I've got that BRW Heirloom that needs to be "played in" and another mando I should be playing. Be happy to send it to you while you sort that Mandolin Bros mess out--with that "distressed" finish, we don't have to worry about being careful with it. PM me if you're interested in borrowing it for a few months. Sorry for your troubles. Regards, Mike

Nov-18-2004, 4:06pm
"In this case, I was the guy who didn't know any better with the Ome."

I'm feeling kinda bad here, 'cause we're all in the dark here as to the Ome mandolins...
I mean, I spent quite awhile researching this thing, and have still come up empty-handed about a major chunk of the Ome story...

I thought at one time that Paul Schneider (http://www.infomagic.net/~bluemoon/summit/) had a hand in building my Ome, but I got this email from Tanya, who is currently working at Ome, and who's father helped found the company.
Here tis:

"Hi Bruce,
Finally got Chuck to look at this Mandolin. He said it is one of roughly 50
"A" mandolins made by Ome in the 70's, before Paul Schneider worked here.
Who exactly worked on it he does not know. My father was not actively
involved at Ome at that time. But it's definitely an Ome!
Take care,
Ome Banjos"

Ironically, I think Stan might be right that the mando is worth what they were asking for it (from a Mando Bros. price-point perspective, that is!), especially if it plays and sounds as good as you say it does, Jim. #I was just kinda put off by their obvious BS.

But the bottom line is that we still don't know who built it, right?

It's very hard to value a mandolin that you don't really know that kind of basic information about...

That being said, I value mine at about 1500-1750.00 or so, but it doesn't look to be as nice as the one you have...
It's a good sounding mandolin, though...


Jim Hilburn
Nov-18-2004, 4:42pm
I'll tell you what's the real rare bird in this story. The all black F-style Ome. This one is #1. There's a total one of a kind AND Mike built it. It preceded the Tim blacktop and I have no idea why it was completely black.

Tom C
Nov-18-2004, 4:51pm
What I do not understand is.... When you bought the mando, you test driven it, you liked it, and thought it was worth $3500. What changed? The mando is still the same ax. Would you buy a Nugget that sounded bad for that price? (If there was such a thing).

Nov-18-2004, 5:24pm
Jim, good lord.. keep the mandolin! Stan is not remotely deceptive, it's full-on truth that he says it has the Kemnitzer vibe.. Picking up an OME for that price is something you should be proud of! You should read in his message that the OME mandos were his design, and he worked in the shop on aspects of them.

Mike was there and built the prototypes your mandolin was based on. Kemnitzer has a midas touch with mandolins, and you should not feel cheated at all. If you still like the sound of it, take some time to be sure. You'll kick yourself over letting it go! A 100% kemnitzer nugget A5 will set you back $10,000-15,000 in todays dollars, so picking one up that was hand built to his design with his workmanship in the mix (that you like the sound of!) is not something you should be upset by.

Stan Jay is a straight shooter, I say this from private contact I've had with him. He's always had time for the nutty guy in England with all the old Gibson mandolin pictures, and he is very careful to check his data before he posts a listing.

And geez, c'mon guys.. admit it.. Stan's descriptions are really fun to read. I love the "when you have the Loar you need nothing more" tagline. Calling them "BS" is missing the point.. it's mandolin literature! I love the fact the he's playful with his instrument descriptions.

Jim, really.. you have no reason to feel bad about this. Make sure you're sending it back because you don't like the instrument itself, not because of the mythos (or lack therof) around it. Take a little time to cool down and just play it.

Nov-18-2004, 6:33pm
Now what about Bob Givens? Didn't he make some OME mandolins at some point?

Or am I thinking of ODE?

Scotti Adams
Nov-18-2004, 7:22pm
Mike..thats a hell of an offer....your one gracious man...

Nov-18-2004, 7:24pm
dan & jim
thats the way i see it also, from just the photos, it DOES have "MK all over it", just because he had left before it was completed is really trivial IF it is a good instrument. jim, you have had it and spent some time with it, so the decision is all yours, but i wonder if the verdict had been, yes, MK built it, then THE SAME MANDO would have been a wonderful find. i.e. the pedigree, not the sound, make the mandolin contraversary.
as i posted earlier, if this mando was a dead on MK pre-nugget, it would be in the $8-10K range.
after careful reflection, i think stan has priced this one about right...assuming it is a good one (you've actually got to spend some time with it, i have not) and you have owned enough good high end mandos to make that call yourself, i just wouldnt feel at all cheated with a mandolin of that lineage.
the fact that lloyd loar had left the building in 1925 surely doesnt affect those mandolins in any negative way.

Nov-18-2004, 7:45pm
Dan: I appreciate your "voice of reason" effort and enjoy some of the stories woven around Stan's inventory. I just wonder how that mandolin would have been priced and described on the other Stan's website? I think that's why I've done business with Elderly's for the past 20 years. Regards

Nov-19-2004, 6:11am
I dunno guys, I can't see why anyone is upset at how Stan Jay handled this. This is not commonly published mando-history, and Mike is not the easiest guy in the world to reach either.

Saying that an OME designed by Mike Kemnitzer, with inlay cut by mike, and with neck heels & hand stop carving on the neck that he very probably did personally has "The Kemnitzer Vibe" doesn't feel misleading to me.. Of course it has a lot in common with a Nugget.. Mike *designed* them!

I had Nugget #91 (pictured with the peghead inlay in this thread) for a while, and those two instruments could nearly be brothers. If it sounds as nice as Jim says it does, $3500 is a very fair price.

Nov-19-2004, 6:30am
I'm glad he's taking it back, but it would be nice that I'm not made to feel like a clod in the process.

You can't have everything. Mandolin Brothers published some carefully hedged claims about the mandolin, in what appears to have been good faith, and as a gesture of good faith are willing to take it back for full credit when their error is discovered. That's more than fair, and probably more than their legal liability, because of the aforementioned hedging.

You appear to want to have your cake AND eat it--to keep the mandolin and have Stan write you a check for a discount. I understand that money is tight for you right now, but that is entirely unreasonable, and frankly paints a fairly unflattering picture of you.

Nov-19-2004, 7:43am
I have every right to criticize Stan Jay. #I was the person doing direct business w/ him. #He was patronizing and had very little patience w/ any question I tried to ask about this mandolin the first two times I called before buying this instrument. When trying to return it, a simple, I'll take it back, would have been better than the lecture on mandolin prices that accompanied it.

Secondly, I never discussed discount w/ him and I wouldn't have kept it if a discount would have been offered. #There is no way he would have discounted it enough to put it where I thought it was worth after the Kemnizter connection was minimized.

Thirdly, I did buy it because I was led to believe that Mike K. was involved either directly or through supervision (which is what they pushed--they never said he built it, but they did play up the big--he supervised the construction of the first 35 instruments). #Yes, the mandolin is based on his prototype (which may or may not be exactly what he wanted to see in a productin mandolin considering he mentions Ome vetoing his desire to fix certain flaws in design). #But a Michael Kelley or Eastman mandolin is based on a Lloyd Loar--does that somehow fetch them more money? #Someone mentioned the unsigned Loars or Fern F5s and are they any less a mandolin because Loar wasn't there for their construction. #They fetch less money--especially the Ferns--don't they? #$3500 is pushing it for a production A5. #A couple of weeks ago an Apitus A5 sold in the Classifieds for $3200. #Tell me the price is still appropriate.

Who among those of you who have chided me for being superficial in not keeping the mandolin would have paid $3500 for an Ome mandolin? #Does it sound good--yes. #Does it sound like a Nugget--kind of. #But it is an OME--not a Nugget and it is an Ome which Mike K did nothing but cut the inlay for (and design the original prototypes).

Question--if you played a Michael Kelley mandolin that sounded every bit as good as a Loar, would you pay $100K for it? #$50K? #even $2K? #It's still a PacRim instrument and is just a really good $500 instrument. #We might be willing to pay a bit more, but we are all caught up w/ names, makers, etc. #Why is there a Nugget registry, a Mandolin Archive, an F5 Journal, a GilFest? #We recognize certain builders/makers at being the cream of the crop and pay substantially for them. #There are new luthiers and production builders who make every bit as good a mandolin as a Gil but don't fetch anywhere near those prices.

This was an Ome mandolin--the name means nothing to almost everyone. #Being a 20+ year banjo player, I knew the banjo reputation, but knew nothing about Ome mandolins. ##I am someone who always changes out instruments periodically because I get bored w/ something. #When the time came to sell this Ome instrument, do you think I, in good faith, could play up this mandolin like Stan Jay did? #Would I be able to sell it for $3500 as a really well made and sounding "Ome" mandolin? #Odds are I would have a hard time--and so would Stan Jay without spending the majority of his description talking about Mike K. #It would languish in the Cafe classifieds (especially after these threads) or ebay or on consignment somewhere if no mention of Kemnitzer was ever made.

I'm sorry for ever starting this thread because its embarrasing to go back on something you bragged up. #I truly thought I had a little of the Nugget magic. # I never believed he made it, but I did take comfort in the fact that he supervised its construction and gave it the Nugget seal of approval (sort of the Ome equivalent of a Lloyd Loar or Charlie Derrington). #I dream of owning a Gil or a Loar or a Nugget--but it will never happen. #I allowed myself to believe the Mandolin Bros. hype. #Even when Jim Hilburn in another thread started debunking the hype, I still clung onto my foolish hopes. #When I finally saw Mike K's response, it gave me a horrible feeling. #I felt silly for believing this hype and realized that I spent $3500 on something that wasn't. #As Mike K said, Ome takes all the credit for this mandolin.

For the person who said "that paints a totally unflattering picture of you," what is unflattering? #I did not want to keep the mandolin and get a discount--but it would have been nice for Stan to somehow acknowledge that they made a mistake in the listing, instead of making me feel stupid--as some of you have done to some degree--for passing up a good sounding mandolin. # There was no offer to discount, there was no apology, there was only-I put what I was told. #That's fine, I suppose, but if I were the merchant, I would have expressed some concern for giving someone the wrong idea. #And he did do this. #He was careful to keep referring to the history only as legend--but he definitely spent a lot of time on the legend and using the "clinches the Kemnitzer connection" to improve the chances of a sale.

Mike Delay--Thanks for the offer of the BRW Heirloom. #As gracious as an offer as it is, I have taken care of my lack of a mandolin problem. #I thank you much for the offer and it does nothing but reinforce the great interactions we have had previously.


Nov-19-2004, 7:58am
Well said Jim. Best of luck with your replacement. The Heirloom offer is open-ended. Regards, Mike

Nov-19-2004, 8:07am
Thanks again for the offer, Mike. I appreciate you thinking of me.

I think the moral of all this for me is to find a good mandolin I can afford and stay w/ it. I kept horsetrading mandolins in an attempt to work my way up to really nice one's, but in the end found that I couldn't, with good conscience, keep it if my family could benefit more from its sale.

We're not remotely close to a bread line, etc. Mainly we just took on so many new debts (mortgage, car payment) this year, I can't justifiably by anything else on credit. I really do believe in pay as you go. So in the end, my financial concerns really are tied to having money in the bank.


Nov-19-2004, 8:14am
Secondly, I never discussed discount w/ him and I wouldn't have kept it if a discount would have been offered.

That's not what you said a couple of posts ago:

Stan wasn't interested in discounting as he was confident that the mandolin was worth what he priced it at ...

Nov-19-2004, 8:34am
That's not what I meant. #I asked Stan if he was now going to list the mandolin at a discounted price given it doesn't the Mike K connection he purported. #He said he had no intention to discount the price because the mandolin is worth every penny he asked for it. #I never asked him to discount the price for me.

When I called Stan, I called him to return the instrument. What I did want from him on the phone was some acknowledgment that they had mistagged this instrument. I would have appreciated an "I'm sorry" or "here's a discount" or something. I had no intentions of taking a discount if offered because as I said earlier, there was no way he could have discounted it to where I thought it was appropriate market value. When I got the lecture on mandolin pricing, I decided I had had enough and went ahead and ended our discussion by saying I wanted to return the mando.

I didn't want to have my cake and eat it too. I wanted a merchant who was a bit more sympathetic to my concerns.

Sorry for any confusion.


Nov-19-2004, 8:42am
That's not what I meant. I asked Stan if he was now going to list the mandolin at a discounted price given it doesn't the Mike K connection he purported. He said he had no intention to discount the price because the mandolin is worth every penny he asked for it. I never asked him to discount the price for me.

My mistake.

Nov-19-2004, 1:10pm
well the bright side to this is we have finally cleared up what role MK played when he was employeed at Ome. like everyone else, i had heard he was involved somehow with those mandolins, but just to what degree was never really made clear.
now we know, straight from the source, and are the wiser.
this was bound to come up at some point. i just wish it had been under better circumstances.
that is the whole beauty of this fine site, to share / gather / substiante information on mandolins.

Nov-19-2004, 2:27pm
I agree w/ you. #A lot--if not most--of what I know about mandolins comes from here. #I appreciate Dan B., Spruce, Jim Hilburn, and esp. Mike K. for giving me insight into what I was buying. #I know I've sounded pretty bitter in this and more than anything, I was having to do this decision-making while being home sick the last 4 days (oldest boy had to stay home sick for two of those). #Just wasn't in the mood to be trying to figure out if I was keeping a mando or not.

As always I'm a firm supporter of the Cafe and again I think its value has been shown.


Nov-22-2004, 8:51am
so, did you keep it ?

Nov-22-2004, 12:46pm
No, it went back to Mandolin Brothers.


Lewis Crowe
Nov-24-2004, 4:11pm
I have owned an Ome A5 since 1978, what a hoss, have put about a million miles on it. I have never run across another one. I can not find a serial number or markings. It appears like yours, my truss rod cover is black and so is the case. It was special ordered from Ome I believe in 1976 by Fifth String Music of Greenville, S.C. retailed for around $1300.00. It was repoed and I jumped on it. It will be for sale. Good luck with yours.

Nov-24-2004, 4:36pm

A few questions....

Is the tailpiece cover engraved with a flowery decoration?

Is the lacquer on the back a very dark-reddish color, covering some figured maple?

Lewis Crowe
Nov-25-2004, 9:55am
In my haste to post, I left out one word."NOT" it will not be for sale.

The back is as you described. The tail piece is some what as you described. Comes up like a tree, three points at the top and just below that a curve rams horn on each side. On each side of the tree are three leaves. Do you know where a serial number is located? I have looked every where.

Nov-25-2004, 11:51am
Here's a bad pic of mine, but you get the idea...

It's really one of the only defining features of the instrument, along with the reddish lacquer. (And of course the "Ome" inlay and flower inlays.)

Is the wood on the back of your Ome figured, or plain? #I thought mine was plain, but with the aid of a flashight you can see the figure, and it's not that bad.
That's how dark-red the finish is. #Also very distinctive...

" Do you know where a serial number is located? I have looked every where. "

I can't get the endpin button out of mine to have a look, but I'd pull that button and have a look around the inside of the mandolin from that viewpoint using a strong light to light things up....
There might be something written on the top or on the neckblock...

Sure would like to know who built these things...

Nov-29-2004, 12:32pm
Well, the Ome A5 is now back in the custody of Mandolin Brothers. Here's the revised description of it from their website (and the price has not been revised):

This mandolin, according to various sources, was made following a period in which Mike Kemnitzer was working at the Ome mandolin division (he was there starting from the fall of 1974). Mike made two prototypes – an A and an F. He says that he worked at Ome for around a year, mostly shaping heels and hand stops on the neck, routing and doing millwork. After leaving the Ome factory he was subsequently hired back as a consultant to make mandolin tooling and, at that time, made three prototypes using Ome’s wood. He says, “one now resides here in Michigan near me, one is played in the group The Uppity Blues Women and the third was sold to a friend of Tim O’Brien’s.” After leaving Ome, Mike hand-cut thirty sets of inlay for them and this mandolin, he says, does have one of those sets. Even though he wasn’t there when this was completed, he says “Some of those Ome mandolins are very good instruments . . . .” This pear-shaped package of plectral perfection has an ebony fingerboard inlaid in the banjo style with mother-of-pearl diamonds, etched parallelograms, pitchforks, S-shapes and scrolls; the peghead is inlaid "OME" in stylized script with a large flower and vine below. There is an adjustable truss rod represented by a black un-bordered cover. The bridge is two-piece, ebony; adjustable to match ebony creme bound board. The tailpiece cover is plain gold-tone, slide-on; the fingerboard is elevated, the top is bound in white-black-white, as is the headstock and back. There is a small, probably added, strap button sticking out of what would be the heel cap if it were separate, but said cap is an integral part of the birds eye maple two-piece back. The neck is flame maple, three-piece. Tuners include the etched (filigreed) backplate and pearloid buttons. There are typical chips, nicks, dings, and signs of use overall and additional finger-wear on the on back of neck, which is also finger-worn. We feel that the back of the neck was oversprayed, over the visible wear. In spite of Mike’s modesty in recalling his involvement, in our opinion, this mandolin is different from (read superior to) anything in an A-style that we’ve heard that came out of the time period in which it was made. The generous neck shape, the huge tone and the induplicable volume (some mandolin players who have tried this instrument have been sent out into the hallway to play, since other customers can’t hear) are hallmarks of the N-word and, as well, of this superb mandolin. $3608 or, at our cash discount price, $3500.

Nov-29-2004, 1:42pm
"In spite of Mike’s modesty in recalling his involvement, in our opinion, this mandolin is different from (read superior to) anything in an A-style that we’ve heard that came out of the time period in which it was made. The generous neck shape, the huge tone and the induplicable volume (some mandolin players who have tried this instrument have been sent out into the hallway to play, since other customers can’t hear) are hallmarks of the N-word and, as well, of this superb mandolin."

So, what are they saying??
That Mike's statement of fact that he didn't make the mandolin isn't good enough for them??

Darryl Wolfe
Nov-29-2004, 1:55pm
strange thread here...provenance equals $ ..or sound equals $...or, they have to have both??
...Mandolin Brothers valued (appraised) my Wayne Henderson D-45 at $12,000 in 1994 and offered to buy it for $8000.....but they don't have a clue what his mandos are worth?


Nov-29-2004, 2:36pm
It's not you or me that may-or-may-not be placing value on provenance...

It's The Mandolin Brothers who latched on the N-word like there was no tomorrow, and apparently are still reluctant to let it go...

I might too, considering that N-word A5s are pushing 10K these days...

I think the A5 looks fabulous, and is probably worth every penny they are asking for it.
Just as mine, with it's less-than-stunning woods and possibly less-than-N-word workmanship is worth 1.5K...

But we still don't know who built either one, which would be a nice thing to know...

We do know who didn't build it, however, so let's cut the bull....

Darryl Wolfe
Nov-29-2004, 2:55pm
My real point of the post above is that workmanship along with sound quality should rule. I wouldn't think twice about $3500 for the mando if it was a Hoss soundwise..there is no question about the workmanship from the pictures.

I have a "gaggle" of a-models started, and fully expect to sell them for a respectable price...even if there are no other "F5Journal" mandolins out there, or even if there is no "N" word, "G" word, or whatever connections. If they sound like I think they will, they should wholly speak for themselves. IMHO, quality A-5 style mandolins are the most underpriced mandolin commodity on the market..scrolls and points don't cost tha much.

Scotti Adams
Nov-29-2004, 3:35pm
BS meter..me likes

Nov-29-2004, 3:36pm
The problem with letting workmanship and sound quality rule (in determining a price) is that those qualities are not objective enough to create a standard in pricing. #Now, regarding workmanship, there is something that can be objectively measured. #Still, there are instruments being made w/ great workmanship that cannot fetch a "good" price because the name or recognition of the builder is not known. # And regarding the tone of a mandolin, if there were a Michael Kelley mando that sounded as fabulous as a Gilchrist, who would be willing to spend more than $500 for it? And if so, how much more? # #If there is the slightest possiblity that you might sell a mandolin--like this Ome A5--which was bought (maybe above market value) #purely because it had the "tone," do we really think we'd get out of it what we put into it? #I don't have that type of cash. #I have to be concerned about the name of an instrument, because in the end, it's the name that will sell it when and if I go to sell.

Also, Stan greatly downplays the amount of neck wear to the back of the Ome A5. #That neck just needs to be refinished cause the finish is awful. #Someone did try to overspray it or something and did an awful job. #What's worse, is that finish is now peeling off. #

Stan will probably sell this mandolin at this price. #I still have issues with the build up of Mike K's connection with the mando. #If the workmanship and tone were sufficient in justifying the price (as Stan told me directly), then why play up Mike K's involvement?


Darryl Wolfe
Nov-29-2004, 3:42pm
I'll stick to Loar oriented threads.

Nov-29-2004, 4:19pm
Amen to Darryl's comment, and no matter what the price was, I still like my Lebeda F5.

I still don't think there's anything wrong with Stan's price on that mandolin. To re-iterate, Stan is a straight shooter. Talk to him on the phone, or send him an email. You'll get more than your nickel's worth

Nov-29-2004, 6:17pm
I want a BS meter too!