View Full Version : NMD: Elkhorn #26

Oct-02-2013, 9:08am
Here's the story on this mandolin. I went to South Plains College with Robb Brophy and we've crossed paths a few times over the years. I'd heard that he was building mandolins and heard they were getting a good reputation but had yet to see one. At my son David's funeral in 2012, my friends John, Coy, and Dave showed up and I asked them to play music at the gravesite. John pulled out an Elkhorn mandolin- the first one I'd seen- but I didn't get to check it out, being somewhat preoccupied that day.

At Kaufman Kamp 2013, I was visiting another friend- Rick- and noticed a mandolin hanging on the rack in his room. "What's that?", I asked. He said "That's an Elkhorn mandolin I just got from John B." It was the mandolin John had played at David's funeral. So I played it and liked it a lot. I asked Rick to let me know if he ever wanted to sell it.

In the meantime, I bought a 1960's Martin D-28 from a customer due to damage during shipping and an unfortunate miscommunication regarding insurance. I fixed the guitar, played it a lot, and took it to Winfield to show Dick who'd expressed some interest in it. Dick ended up taking it home, promising to send me a stack of checks over the next 10-20 years, and all was well.

I get back from Winfield and guess what? There's an e-mail from Rick and he wants to sell the Elkhorn in order to buy a..... drum roll, please..... 1960's Martin D-28. Dick was kind of debating whether to keep the D-28 from me or keep his tried/true D-21, so I suggested that Rick send me the Elkhorn and then talk to Dick about my D-28. I'd either buy the Elkhorn from him or swap him for the D-28. Rick ended up taking the D-28 and I've got the Elkhorn. I'd have had trouble coming up with the money for the mandolin, but having come up with it for the D-28, swapping is less painful than an outright purchase.

And so here I am with a friend's mandolin that was played by a friend at my son's (another friend!) funeral swapped for with another friend, with yet another friend involved. It's a funny world sometimes.

I did this video about 24 h after unpacking the Elkhorn and putting the bridge on it. I was still getting used to and there are some flubs. I've gotten more used to it now, and I think it sounds a little better now, too. But, FWIW:


Oct-02-2013, 9:33am
Sounds good! Having an instrument with an emotional attachment makes the music even better, what a great story! So sorry for your loss.

Put some wear on those frets before you change them out... Whayassay?

Oct-02-2013, 10:02am
Put some wear on those frets before you change them out... Whayassay?

They've already got some wear and when .080" wide wire gets worn, you get this big wide flat surface that I just don't play well on. My fat fingers like a nice sharp crown on thinner wire and Evo in .053" w x .037" t is my favorite wire. Before it was available, I'd run .078" across my belt sander and take it down to approx .050" w- that's what I've got on my Krishot.

It's sort of "Whayasay?" I think of it more like "Huh?" :) I should get it down right one of these days.

Happy gnome
Oct-02-2013, 4:56pm
I agree with Dang, those kind of stories really add to your attachment to an instrument. And it sounds great!

Also sorry for your loss


Denny Gies
Oct-02-2013, 5:13pm
Bummer on the death of your son. The story, and especially if you keep the mandolin, should give you some solice. Thanks for sharing this with us.

Oct-03-2013, 9:12pm
I like that dark sunburst. Also nice playing. That one Irish tune sounds kind of renaissance for some reason.

Sorry about the son, may his soul rest in peace.

oldwave maker
Oct-03-2013, 11:39pm
So I guess you're not gonna sell me just the back off that D28 after all? Some instruments take a while to find their true caretakers, glad this one made it!

Oct-05-2013, 11:42am
So I guess you're not gonna sell me just the back off that D28 after all?

Sorry, man. :) I DO have another set of BRW on a different guitar from a small unknown maker, but I think I'm going to try my hand at re-topping, re-necking, and re-finishing it. Plus, it's not _nearly_ as nice as that '67 D-28 was.

That one Irish tune sounds kind of renaissance for some reason.

Sorry about the son, may his soul rest in peace.

David was 11 years old when he died and suffered from chronic undiagnosed anemia his whole life. I didn't take a single day of his life for granted but his sudden and wholly unexpected death caught us all by surprise- Google my name and "blog" and you can read all about it, if you want. I pastor my church and was able to speak at his funeral, but afterward, I had absolutely zero creativity for 8-9 months. Instead of working up another break to some song, I played Irish tunes for hours. The memorization and rote playing over and over, as well as the ancient tones of those melodies, was very therapeutic.

Oct-07-2013, 3:58pm
Hey Bryan, Just got back from Denver this afternoon and saw this thread; went to see The Eagles; it was fantastic! While I do hate the fact that you first heard this mandolin at your son's funeral (it is very sad!) it is a sweet story how you ended up having it in your hands! I know John Beaver probably did it justice as he played for you all. Glad you are enjoying it! Sounding good? Keep me posted. Again; can't tell you how sorry I am for your loss!!

Pete Counter
Oct-09-2013, 8:40am
I just played an elkhorn for the first time at carters vintage guitars in nashville, I have to say I was impressed. I liked it over a Duff and Ricky Skaggs Ellis that was there. Good aquisition.

Trey Young
Oct-09-2013, 10:21am
So sorry for your loss Bryan, I can only imagine how that feels. Glad you ended up with a mandolin that is special to you though. On top of the sentimental value it has, it sounds and looks fantastic. Enjoy!