View Full Version : John Dancer mandolins, fiddles, and guitars from Damascus, VA

Jun-27-2013, 9:02am
Just wanted to plug a local luthier who built my current two-point mandolin. John Dancer from Damascus, VA is a fiddle maker with a great local reputation for build, repair, and set up. He really understands the box and all his instruments produce excellent tone. I am very satisfied with my mandolin (pics to follow) as well as his enthusiasm for ensuring player satisfaction. I have also been playing for 15 years and have played many mandolins in that time and think I have a pretty good ear for tone and feel for playability. His mandolins, to me, represent an excellent value. His last two-point sold for $1900 with lacquer finish, great fit and finish, and nearly all wood appointments. I would compare his use of wood (bindings, etc.) to Campanella mandolins although John does not do the rounded binding style around the top and back.

The most interesting thing (besides his sense of tone) about John is his style. He takes a very 'out of the box' approach to building and is very experimental with tonewoods and decor. My mandolin is all cherry (back, sides, neck, headstock veneer, fingerrest, and bindings) with an awesome one piece back. He has a gift for merging both the aesthetic quality of the woods with their ability to serve the instrument from either a tonewood or supporting perspective.

I couldn't begin to tell you all the interesting local woods he's used except for my own but be sure his other instruments are just as awesome and 'non-traditional'. I have seen many of his fiddle headstocks that are carved into different animal heads, etc. and are simply stunning. He has really changed my mind that mandolins have to look like our 1923 'model' appearances.

I have played 3-4 of his mandolins including two F5s and the consistency between them is unreal. I played another two point with different tonewoods than mine and the similarity in sound was simply amazing and I interpret that as a true sense of building - to be able to produce instruments with consistent sound seems very difficult to me. Especially using 'non-traditional' woods.

John is also very much 'off the grid' and is only reachable by phone or visit. Feel free to contact me with any questions. Also, some of his instruments are on consignment at Capo's music store in Abingdon and they have a website and phone number for contact directly.

Gonna dig up a pic or two and post.

Jun-27-2013, 9:15am

Jim Garber
Jun-27-2013, 9:58am
Looks like another mandolin picture and some fiddles pictured here (http://www.shopcaposmusicstore.com/Dancer-Fiddles-Mandolins_c44.htm). He also seems to have a good sense of humor. He has a fiddle called "Hissy Fit" with a carved head of a snake for a scroll.

Jun-27-2013, 10:21am
I'd love to hear a sound clip. Nice looking instrument.

Aug-02-2013, 2:50pm
Is his website still extant? It's listed as "johndancerwoodwork.com" in Joe Wilson's 2006 "A Guide to the Crooked Road," but I guess 7 years has killed that link.

Jim Garber
Aug-02-2013, 3:51pm
You can prob reach him at Capo's Music Store (http://caposmusicstore.com/Instructors.html). he is listed as an instructor there.