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Thread: George Gruhn sure likes newson mandolins

  1. #26
    Registered User JAK's Avatar
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    Default Re: George Gruhn sure likes newson mandolins

    The strings were probably loosened for shipping purposes. "The only way to find out is to find out." -Bob Dylan
    John A. Karsemeyer

  2. #27

    Default Re: George Gruhn sure likes newson mandolins

    Good news! Thanks for the report. If you are really happy now I'm guessing that you will be dddddelighted after a few months of playing in.

  3. #28
    Registered User Mark Marino's Avatar
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    Default Re: George Gruhn sure likes newson mandolins

    Paul is a top notch guy. I just don't think he promotes himself much and lives a bit off the beaten path. Hopefully one of these days a big name player will talk him up and his prices will go up to reflect it.
    "If you hit a wrong note, then make it right by what you play afterwards." - Joe Pass

  4. #29
    Quietly Making Noise Dave Greenspoon's Avatar
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    Default Re: George Gruhn sure likes newson mandolins

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Hildreth View Post
    "incredible instrument: woods from the same forests that Gibson harvested a century ago,"

    Interesting, and what forests would those be ?, and
    Are the trees the same vintage as the Gibson trees ?

    Curious ?
    Paul is a bit over 2 hours north of Kalamazoo. As in, Gibson's original home. Back when Paul had an active website, he identified the woods as the same. Need more info? Call Paul. Want to see some pics? Look at my gallery.
    Axes: Rigel A Natural #1774 w/mods, Andrew Jerman Irwin-style 5 string electric "Stealie", Paul Newson custom blonde SCW "Feivel", Eastman 515, Epi Mandobird IV, Crafter M85E, Grandmom's solid-mahogany teens bent-top, Baglamas 002
    Rigs: Rigel Stealie Amps: Fishman Loudbox 100; Laney Cub 10

  5. #30
    Registered User trevor's Avatar
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    Default Re: George Gruhn sure likes newson mandolins

    That's great! I often find that instruments can be disappointing out of the box (after a trans-Atlantic journey in my case). But within a few hours - or sometimes the next day - change dramatically.
    Trevor
    The Acoustic Music Co (TAMCO) Brighton England
    Over 100 mandolins in stock.
    www.theacousticmusicco.co.uk.

  6. #31
    F5G & MD305 Astro's Avatar
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    Default Re: George Gruhn sure likes newson mandolins

    Quote Originally Posted by surfnpikr View Post
    So... Here's the follow up on the Newson Mandolin I ordered from Gruhn's: I found that the instrument was accurately represented by Mr. Gruhn.. both by the pictures posted on his website and his verbal description. Upon first opening the box, tuning it up and playing.. it sounded "OK". I liked it, but not "blown away".. THEN about 4 hours later I picked it up and an amazing thing happened. I found it was about a half step below pitch. I loosened the strings, dropped the action a tad, and brought it up to correct pitch. Wow.. what a difference. After 40 years of playing I thought I had experienced everything, but the difference 4 hours, lowered action and tuning up a half step was astounding. It truly is a wonderful instrument.. Certainly the best I've ever owned, and maybe the best I've ever played. Worth the price regardless of the fact that I could have bought one for less money two years ago,...or what forest the trees came from.
    Any chance for a sound clip ?
    No matter where I go, there I am...Unless I'm running a little late.

  7. #32

    Default Re: George Gruhn sure likes newson mandolins

    Paul is indeed a great guy and under the radar. I've owned a few of his over the years and loved each one. (FULL DISCLOSURE: I just listed a '13 Newson A-5 in the Classifieds, due to an impending move or I'd be keeping it for sure). He's not one to heavily promote his work, but those who own his instruments do feel quite strongly about them for a reason. His fit & finish are very good and he's been dialing in on his tone over the last several years. It's just him in his workshop in Michigan making these babies!

  8. #33

    Default Re: George Gruhn sure likes newson mandolins

    A few months ago I sat with George, a Newson, and my '98 Gilchrist and A/B'd them for a half hour. He was also playing them both. Wouldn't give up my Gil for it (although I'd have some change left over), but the Newson was really really nice. BTW, it's amazing the service you get when you walk in with a Gilchrist! Highly recommended. (Then I went to Carter and played the Loars - fun)

  9. #34

    Default Re: George Gruhn sure likes newson mandolins

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Hildreth View Post
    "incredible instrument: woods from the same forests that Gibson harvested a century ago,"

    Interesting, and what forests would those be ?, and
    Are the trees the same vintage as the Gibson trees ?

    Curious ?
    I find this statement somewhat of a sales pitch designed to create a connection between vintage Gibsons and Newson--nothing against Newson, I've never played one or even seen one outside of internet photos. Sounds like they are great mandolins.

    First, I can't imagine a forest in Michigan (or anywhere else) that could grow maple, rosewood, ebony, and spruce all side by side, like a one-stop shopping experience. And maybe some Holly for the peghead veneer? Begs the question, did they grow their own Brazilian rosewood, too? How about Adirondack spruce?

    Secondly, if we are talking about houses in a certain part of the country, 100 years ago, I would agree that the lumber was probably local due to shipping. But small pieces used in instrument making are easily sent, even 100 years ago.

    Third, people who follow the history of American guitar making will recall that all the major makers had huge stockpiles of wood--up until the late 60's, then experienced shortages caused in great part by the demand for guitars due to the British Invasion. A subject for a separate thread, but that's when Martin started using the 3-piece back (to utilize smaller pieces of wood & actually became one of their most popular guitars-the D-35), Gibson started using some laminate wood for back and sides, Harmony, who was the largest US manufacturer at the time, starting having some of their instruments made in Japan. Manufacturers have looked for other sources since that time. There was another conference, in the early 90's discussing guitar wood shortages that included Martin, Gibson, Taylor and others. Once the wood is cut down, it is gone (obviously) and logic would say that it would take 100 or more years to replenish. And that would be only if someone was thinking of conservation, which I'm sure 100 years ago they were not.
    Last edited by Jeff Mando; Mar-29-2015 at 10:26am.

  10. #35
    My Florida is scooped pheffernan's Avatar
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    Default Re: George Gruhn sure likes newson mandolins

    Quote Originally Posted by Jonathan James View Post
    (FULL DISCLOSURE: I just listed a '13 Newson A-5 in the Classifieds, due to an impending move or I'd be keeping it for sure).
    FULL DISCLOSURE: one of Paul's A-styles modeled after the original Griffith A5 has turned up at Gruhn's (without the fingerrest):

    http://guitars.com/new-newson-mandolins
    1924 Gibson A Snakehead
    2005 National RM-1
    2007 Hester A5
    2009 Passernig A5
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  11. #36
    two t's and one hyphen fatt-dad's Avatar
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    Default Re: George Gruhn sure likes newson mandolins

    When I bought my '84 Flatiron they were up talking Michael Kelly Dragonfly. I bought the used mandolin instead.

    f-d
    ˇpapá gordo ain’t no madre flaca!

    '20 A3, '30 L-1, '84 1N, '97 914, 2012 Cohen A5, 2012 Muth A5, '14 OM28A

  12. #37

    Default Re: George Gruhn sure likes newson mandolins

    Quote Originally Posted by surfnpikr View Post
    Well... New to forum, and here's what happened just yesterday:
    After 40 years of owning and selling many imports, a Rigel, a Ratliff, a Bacon, a June and a Weber (my current axe)... along with a borrowed Stiver and a Williamson,.. after countless hours of reading nothing but positive threads, after several conversations with the builder and the shop owner, after careful consideration that just a couple of years ago I could have spent spent considerably less... after all this, I just purchased one of the Newson's that was hanging in Mr. Gruhn's shop. I will receive it on Wednesday. If it is not all that I expect it to be... an instrument that will take me to the end of my playing career... I will eat the shipping and send it back. My gamble is that it will be worth the effort and expense.

    E. Jessup.. Now that this is a done deal, do you mind sharing with me which of the instruments Mr. Gruhn had or has in stock was/is the one that spent some time in the west coast shop listed for $5.2 K? It is my understanding the one I purchased (stock #MF8435..lighter/redder in color with highly figured 2 piece back) was completed and shipped about 2-3 months ago. They have another that they just received (one piece back)... and yet another that has been there considerably longer (two piece back, darker in color)... would the older instrument he still has be the one? I will report once I have received and played the instrument.
    Follow up.. Three years later:
    I have now owned this Newson F5 for exactly three years. It has seen much stage time being played for genres ranging from Orchestral, to Bluegrass, Country, Gospel and Folk. It has been rained on (once).. the top shows some pick marks, the finish on the back has some rash, I have replaced the tuners with a set of Rubners, I installed an inlaid McLung armrest, and I've gone through at least 25 sets of strings. The action remains spot on perfect.. and the sound? The sound is huge.. balanced, and responsive.. Loud as hell when it needs to be, yet full, rich and warm when it needs to whisper. Has it opened up?.. Definitely. So.. at the age of 66 and after playing many mandolins for 45 years... am I through searching for my "perfect" F5? In a word, Yes. My Weber is now my "campground" axe, my deep, guteral "Hutto-esqe" sounding Williamson F5 still sees daylight when backing specific softer artists like fingerstyle guitarists, and my Resurrection electric still gets plugged into the tube amp for the rock and roll gigs.... but the Newson is my main axe by a very long shot. I still feel the rush every time I take it out of it's case.
    At this point of my life I have a theory when looking back on anything I have purchased... be it a car, a shirt, a pair of shoes.. or an instrument. The best "deals" I ever got were for the things I actually continue to use and enjoy.. regardless of what I paid. Message to Mr. Newson and Mr. Gruhn: Thank you for the "great deal".. Job well done.

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  14. #38
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    Default Re: George Gruhn sure likes newson mandolins

    And George really likes Wienman as well, maybe even better !
    My two favorite pastimes are drinking wine and playing the mandolin but most of my friends would rather hear me drink wine! Adapted from quote by Mark Twain

  15. #39
    Registered User fscotte's Avatar
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    Default Re: George Gruhn sure likes newson mandolins

    I build all my mandos with woods harvested from the same planet that Gibson did 100 years ago... and you can really tell.

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  17. #40
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    Default Re: George Gruhn sure likes newson mandolins

    Quote Originally Posted by CityFolk View Post
    A few months ago I sat with George, a Newson, and my '98 Gilchrist and A/B'd them for a half hour. He was also playing them both. Wouldn't give up my Gil for it (although I'd have some change left over), but the Newson was really really nice. BTW, it's amazing the service you get when you walk in with a Gilchrist! Highly recommended. (Then I went to Carter and played the Loars - fun)
    I also played on a Newson and a number of other higher end mandolins at Gruhn's but the two that made my ears smile were the Ellis and Wienman mandolins.
    My two favorite pastimes are drinking wine and playing the mandolin but most of my friends would rather hear me drink wine! Adapted from quote by Mark Twain

  18. #41
    Registered User JAK's Avatar
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    Default Re: George Gruhn sure likes newson mandolins

    Sound is in the ear(s) of the beholder.
    John A. Karsemeyer

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  20. #42
    Loarcutus of MandoBorg DataNick's Avatar
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    Default Re: George Gruhn sure likes newson mandolins

    I got to pick a Newson F5 at the Temecula Valley Bluegrass Festival yesterday. The owner who is in the LA area bought it from Gruhn's brand new about a year ago.

    Very, very nice instrument that has a well balanced tone across the strings, nice sweet tone, good percussive qualities as well as sustain. In short, to me it was like a superior "Gibsonesque" F5. As a comparison, Scotty Dawg and I both played a 2004 Varnished Fern that was Danny Roberts signed, and we both preferred the Newson. When that mandolin matures, I have no doubt that it will be an outstanding F5. If this example is indicative of his work, then I can understand Mr. Gruhn's enthusiasm...YMMV
    1994 Gibson F5L Fern


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  22. #43
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    Default Re: George Gruhn sure likes newson mandolins

    I think Paul has for a long time been among the most highly underrated mandolin builders, but has a well deserved cult-like following. The LA owner's may be one I almost bought last year. I subsequently found a recent used Newson A5 that is also amazing and I've never played an easier playing mandolin, very comfortable and responsive, also very tasteful with regard to aesthetics and appointments. And he's a heck of a nice person.

    I think Forrest O'Connor has been playing Newson's a lot the last couple years.
    Michigan Triple A's: Northfield, Nugget/Collings, Newson

  23. #44

    Default Re: George Gruhn sure likes newson mandolins

    Skip Gorman has a Newson F5 that's sounds more Gibson than his Gibson. He said that when he was at Gruhn's that day playing mandolins George handed him that one and a few minutes in his wallet was out.
    Good Advice: Play before you pay, and know your product and your market.

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  25. #45
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    Default Re: George Gruhn sure likes newson mandolins

    When I was at Gruhn's I played on a Newson and a Wienman and Wienman won out to my ears !
    My two favorite pastimes are drinking wine and playing the mandolin but most of my friends would rather hear me drink wine! Adapted from quote by Mark Twain

  26. #46
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    Default Re: George Gruhn sure likes newson mandolins

    About those upper Michigan/Wisconsin forests, yes, spruce and maple both grow there; and no, ebony and rosewood do not. Seems like a good place to go for instrument wood. The winters are quite cold and the summers moderate, which tends to encourage slow tree growth, which means trees that are more likely to produce stiff lumber, which means good tops and backs.

    About mandolins by Newson and Wienman: I've played both, and thought both were instruments of very high grade.

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