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Tobin
Aug-23-2013, 9:35pm
Just picked up my new mandolin today from Fiddler's Green in Austin. This is my birthday present to myself, and an upgrade from the "starter" Pac-rim mandolin I've been playing for the last 4 years.

Full disclosure: I am not worthy of this instrument from a proficiency standpoint. But I'm not one of those people who think that you have to "earn" a top-quality mandolin. I'm not a professional musician, and I'm still learning. But I have had some functional issues with my starter mandolin, as well as having developed a hankering for something with serious tone. There were particular features I was looking for in a new mandolin, and the Ellis F5 Special had them all. So I set my sights on owning one.

Austin is a 2-1/2 hour drive from where I live, so I scheduled this trip (a vacation day from my very busy job) a month ago. As the day drew near, I called over to the shop and asked them if they still had the Ellis F5 on their website. Ben told me that they had just sold it! I was crushed. But he also told me that Tom Ellis was just finishing up another one and he would have it within a day or two. He called Tom just to make sure, and then called me back to confirm that he'd have it by today.

As I was looking it over and tinkering with it, someone else called the shop and was interested in buying it. So if it was one of you, sorry! I snatched it.

This is fresh off of Tom's workbench. Ben told me (after I purchased it) that Tom made the comment that this is the best sounding mandolin he has made yet. I wouldn't know for sure about that, but it's a darn fine sounding mandolin. It's everything I've dreamed about, and Tom's work (which includes Pava's craftsmanship too) is nothing short of awesome. Holy cow, I didn't know a mandolin could sound this good. Internet recordings don't do it justice. I even had Ben do a demo for me so I could hear it from across the room, and I knew I had to have it. Oh, and it looks pretty good too. :)

So anyway, I'm like a kid on Christmas morning. My face hurts from grinning all day and my fingers are sore because I haven't been able to put it down since I got home. Sorry for not having a sound clip to post, but all I have is a crummy phone camera to record video/audio, and that would just be an insult.

This is number 298. Adirondack spruce top, flamed maple sides and one-piece back, fern inlay, etc.

cayuga red
Aug-23-2013, 9:44pm
A wonderful choice! Play it in good health.

Sid Simpson
Aug-23-2013, 9:49pm
Congrats! I have a recent Pava, and if the Ellis is the upgrade from there, you should be set for life. Now just get to work playing, grinning, and getting better! Sound clips when you can are always appreciated.

Tobin
Aug-23-2013, 10:07pm
Congrats! I have a recent Pava, and if the Ellis is the upgrade from there, you should be set for life. Now just get to work playing, grinning, and getting better! Sound clips when you can are always appreciated.

The Pava would have been my next choice, since it is every bit an Ellis but without the fancy stuff. But they had sold it, and there is a waiting list for them. TThey are by all reports wonderful. Good choice, and you're a lucky man!

F-2 Dave
Aug-23-2013, 10:20pm
Really, really nice mandolin. Congratulations.

phiddlepicker
Aug-23-2013, 10:27pm
Happy Birthday!

almeriastrings
Aug-23-2013, 11:07pm
Just picked up my new mandolin today from Fiddler's Green in Austin. This is my birthday present to myself, and an upgrade from the "starter" Pac-rim mandolin I've been playing for the last 4 years.


Heck... that is quite an upgrade. Congratulations - these are absolutely a top-tier mandolin in every respect. The level of 'fit and finish' throughout is phenomenal. It really shows up in the jointing of the 'fully boxed' side bindings. Playability, sound.. it is all there. Well... at least you won't have to get distracted by "what shall I upgrade to next".....they are pretty much a MAS killer.

10 on from mine.... that was built late 2012... so not many of these appearing at all.

Jim Ferguson
Aug-23-2013, 11:07pm
Tobin.......that is a stunning looking mando.
Congrats.
Peace,

Bluejay
Aug-23-2013, 11:08pm
Happy B'day Tobin. You got yourself a fine present.

Clef
Aug-23-2013, 11:34pm
Incredible flame maple on that mandolin. Congrats!

Jim Roberts
Aug-23-2013, 11:44pm
Tom is building some really special instruments these days. And, you won't meet a nicer guy in the world...Tom is first class in all regards.

Enjoy your new Ellis and may it give you a lifetime of mirth & merriment!

(Bring it to Winfield in a few weeks. You won't regret it!)

Tobin
Aug-24-2013, 8:11am
Heck... that is quite an upgrade. Congratulations - these are absolutely a top-tier mandolin in every respect. The level of 'fit and finish' throughout is phenomenal. It really shows up in the jointing of the 'fully boxed' side bindings. Playability, sound.. it is all there. Well... at least you won't have to get distracted by "what shall I upgrade to next".....they are pretty much a MAS killer.

10 on from mine.... that was built late 2012... so not many of these appearing at all.
Yep, my intent was to skip all the intermediate upgrades and "go for the throat", as it were. I'd really like this to be The One that I play and play until it has become an extension of me. The one I keep until I die. At the ripe old age of 39, hopefully that will be a long time from now.

I had hoped to go over to Tom's shop while I was in Austin. But Ben called over there and Tom told him he was out sick. I think he's having gall bladder surgery soon, but don't quote me on that. I hope everything is OK.

bluemoonofky
Aug-24-2013, 7:26pm
Absolutely Beautiful! Enjoy and Happy Birthday!

DataNick
Aug-24-2013, 8:26pm
Happy Birthday Tobin!

Congrats on what I'm sure is a killer mando!

I've got my sights set on my "Christmas gift" to myself later this year; a Pava.

You Ellis F5 is the "bomb" dude, if there could be one, I'm sure it's a MAS killer!

Enjoy my Brother!

Nick

Pete Counter
Aug-25-2013, 12:46am
Worthy Schmirthy... If you love playing the mandolin, you should get the best mandolin you can afford! At least your instrument wont hold you back and you shouldnt be distracted my MAS so you can concentrate on playing! I say good for you!

padawan
Aug-25-2013, 1:05am
Worthy Schmirthy...

Exactly! You worked hard for the money to buy it so one way or the other you DID earn it.

That is a seriously gorgeous mandolin. Congratulations! ...and don't forget, it is going to sound better and better as you break it in. That's going to be awesome.

FWIW: Fiddler's Green is the same place where I got my baby and Ben is the guy who sold it to me. Great shop and nice guy. Heck of a picker too.

Tobin
Aug-25-2013, 8:35am
Yes, Ben is an outstanding picker. When I asked him to demo it for me, he said he hadn't played anything yet that morning and wasn't warmed up, but he sure made it sing! I'm still years from playing like that. But I also have to give credit to Michelle who helped me with some other stuff at the shop and made it a great transaction. They have a great team there.

I got this mandolin to take me to the next level in my playing, and after two days, I can already tell that I've made a significant leap. This mandolin plays like butter, if you'll pardon the cheesy expression. Now I'm really seeing where my entry-level mandolin was holding me back. I'm taking this opportunity to correct a few bad habits I've developed because of my old mandolin's issues, and this one is just perfect.

I've been amazed by the sustain of the Ellis. It will ring for days! And now I know what people are talking about when they mention responsiveness. It's like going from a Honda to a Corvette. And volume! My old mandolin had a very muted sound but this one is clear, crisp, loud, and even across the strings. And I'm really looking forward to playing it enough to hear it open up.

padawan
Aug-25-2013, 10:46am
...I got this mandolin to take me to the next level in my playing, and after two days, I can already tell that I've made a significant leap. This mandolin plays like butter, if you'll pardon the cheesy expression. Now I'm really seeing where my entry-level mandolin was holding me back. I'm taking this opportunity to correct a few bad habits I've developed because of my old mandolin's issues, and this one is just perfect...

That's pretty much what I went through a month and a half ago with my new baby.
I actually started grinning as I read your post.

If your story continues to parallel mine you'll be even happier with it a month from now.

:mandosmiley:

Don Grieser
Aug-25-2013, 6:58pm
Congrats, Tobin! Nothing like a great instrument to inspire you!

Phil Jolly
Aug-25-2013, 7:07pm
Congrats! That's a beauty! Too bad Tom can't seem to find any good maple...

Leon Peoples
Aug-26-2013, 8:26am
That is without an doubt the prettiest Ellis I have seen if 298 don't inspire you nothing will, quite a birthday present and I would agree with the majority here you earned it so enjoy.
Best/joe

Tobin
Aug-26-2013, 9:08am
Down the hatch!

(I need all the help I can get, LOL.)

Denny Gies
Aug-26-2013, 9:32am
Happy Birthday and congratulations. Won't it be a barrel of fun to grow into your mandolin?

Cheryl Watson
Aug-26-2013, 9:41am
Wow, Tobin! That has to be the most radical upgrade EVER posted on the Mandolin Cafe. That's one gorgeous Ellis and love the rattle too. A friend of mine shot a huge rattler the other day and saved the rattle for me--11 sections--one for each year of its life.

Tobin, how did you dry it so it won't stink? There is no warm, DRY place here in the humid, Florida heat--maybe my oven?

Leon Peoples
Aug-26-2013, 9:56am
Down the hatch!

(I need all the help I can get, LOL.)

Tobin let me know if the rattles help, I could sure use some help myself, thought I read somewhere Bill Monroe kept a set in his Gibson to absorb moisture ?
I saw a small rattler in the pasture the other day and thought about shooting it for his rattlers, but decided against it.
Best/joe

Cecily_Mandoliner
Aug-26-2013, 10:19am
It's beautiful!
Enjoy your treat to yourself.
Happy birthday!

Tobin
Aug-26-2013, 11:09am
Wow, Tobin! That has to be the most radical upgrade EVER posted on the Mandolin Cafe. That's one gorgeous Ellis and love the rattle too. A friend of mine shot a huge rattler the other day and saved the rattle for me--11 sections--one for each year of its life.

Tobin, how did you dry it so it won't stink? There is no warm, DRY place here in the humid, Florida heat--maybe my oven?
Well, out here in the western half of Texas where it's rocky and scrubby, dryness isn't a problem. This rattle has been in a storage bin for a couple of years, so it's plenty dry. In fact, the rattlesnake skins that were coiled up in the bin with it are so dry they're cracking. You might be able to try putting yours in a sealed jar, covered with rice or something else that's useful as a dessicant to leach the moisture out of it. I would think a few weeks in there would do it.

I could have put a huge rattle in my Ellis that was as long as my middle finger. I think it had 18 rattles on it. But that would have been overkill.

Markus
Aug-26-2013, 11:23am
I hope you enjoy the mandolin as much as I enjoy your posts.

Play it with a big smile every day you can.

Tiderider
Aug-26-2013, 10:07pm
Congrats on your fine new Ellis but you know this thread isn't complete without a sound clip or video. ;)

Doug Edwards
Aug-30-2013, 1:09pm
Toby you done good. I wish you took a few more solos last night so I could of heard more of it. I've played 5 or more Ellis mandolins. Yours is the best of my recollection.