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Thread: Alrite Tribute

  1. #1
    My Florida is scooped pheffernan's Avatar
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    Default Alrite Tribute

    I'm a big fan of the flattop mandolin. Coming over from the guitar, I started on one of Mike Dulak's Mid-Missouri models, and since that time, I have owned one of Walt Kuhlman's Gypsy Vagabonds, one of I guess Steve Carlson's Flatiron pancakes, and two of Steve Smith's Redline Travelers. In the process, I have developed a tremendous admiration for the amount of sound these little mandolins produce and the amount of value that they deliver. At one point, I had a hankering to buy a vintage model, such as a Gibson Army-Navy Style DY, but a lot of the survivors are in bad repair, and truthfully I prefer the feel of modern instruments. Thus, I decided to reach out to Andy Poe to see if he would build me one of his Scout flattops as something of a tribute to the Gibson Alrite, celebrating its 100th birthday. His directive was to make the instrument look as much as possible like one leaving Kalamazoo in 1917, to play like one built in 2017, and to sound like one with a hundred years of seasoning. On Thursday, he delivered!

    The top is a piece of red spruce that Andy selected. It is really wide grained with lots of bearclaw figure.

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    The back is a piece of 500 year old sinker birch pulled from Moosehead Lake in Maine, sourced with the help of Max Girouard (thanks again, Max!).

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    The neck is traditional Spanish cedar:

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    And the tailpiece is an original Waverly cloud, sourced from Dave Stutzman's drawer of forgotten antiquities (thanks Allen Hopkins!).

    Add in the purfling that Andy sourced, the pickguard that he crafted, and the spirit varnish finish that he applied, and I think that the completed instrument really captures the look of the original Alrite.

    But as vintage as it looks, it plays like new. Andy installed both an adjustable bridge and truss rod, allowing for future tweaks as necessary. The latter made possible a more narrow V- style neck which, coupled with the compound radiused board, creates a very comfortable playing experience. Throw in stainless steel frets and this mandolin is ready to provide long service like the instruments it commemorates.

    As for the voice, it is the best and most complete sounding flattop in my experience. Tonally, it has a strong fundamental with excellent note definition and clarity. It is already quite loud and features a surprisingly full bottom end with long sustain. It sounds nothing like a little guitar or a lute from the Renaissance fair. It's all mandolin.

    At last, I get to join the chorus lauding the work of Andy Poe. He makes high quality instruments built to impeccable standards for very reasonable prices. It is my understanding that he's not currently taking new orders for 2017, which is a pity and makes me thankful that I got in when I did. I would heartily endorse getting on his waiting list if possible or recommend one of his used instruments without reservation.
    Last edited by Mandolin Cafe; Feb-26-2017 at 9:34am. Reason: sized your images larger using the forum tools... hope you don't mind
    1924 Gibson A Snakehead
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  3. #2
    Registered User Eric F.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Alrite Tribute

    Wow, that is one fine-looking flattop. Congrats!

    I've had a bunch of flattops over the years and have been feeling the urge to get another. You might just have pushed me over the edge.

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  5. #3
    Registered User Steve-o's Avatar
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    Default Re: Alrite Tribute

    Thanks for the well written review, pheffernan. Andy did a beautiful job meeting your specs, as expected. He's such a nice guy, has wonderfully creative ideas, and builds to perfection. I'm glad you like the sound and esthetic of your new Alrite Tribute. Welcome to the Poe club! Make sure you post the pics at our social group.

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  7. #4
    Purveyor of Sunshine sgarrity's Avatar
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    Default Re: Alrite Tribute

    That is beautiful. A Poe flattop is high on my want list!

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  9. #5

    Default Re: Alrite Tribute

    I've never owned a flattop, but that makes me want one. Gorgeous. I've seen some videos of the Poe Scouts and they sound really rich and full. Congrats!! And thanks for the pics and review!
    the billyhawks http://www.thebillyhawks.com

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  11. #6
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    Default Re: Alrite Tribute

    Wow, beautiful work! Andy really nailed that one...too cool!
    Chuck

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  13. #7
    poor excuse for anything Charlieshafer's Avatar
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    Default Re: Alrite Tribute

    It's beautiful and has a great team-approach story. Hope it gives you many happy years.

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  15. #8
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    Default Re: Alrite Tribute

    A great review. Andy Poe is an extraordinarily talented builder and he's simply mastered the army-navy style mandolin.

    Play it in good health.
    "Without self-discipline, success is impossible, period.”
    – Lou Holtz

    "If I don't practice one day, I know it; two days, the critics know it; three days, the public knows it; four days, Lou Holtz knows it." - Jascha Heifetz

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  17. #9
    acoustically inert F-2 Dave's Avatar
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    Default Re: Alrite Tribute

    Wow, she's absolutely stunning. What a great idea.
    "Mongo only pawn in game of life." --- Mongo

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    Default Re: Alrite Tribute

    w.o.w.
    That is a treat to look at. Congratulations
    The plain headstock, binding, birch back, pickguard, tailpiece - all perfect. Well done

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  21. #11
    Mando-afflicted lflngpicker's Avatar
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    Default Re: Alrite Tribute

    Hey Patrick! You did it. Together with Andy's tremendous and unique talent, and your imagination and experience with other instruments, you have teamed up to design a beautiful instrument. Your willingness to wait for all the best touches and choices were certainly rewarded with one of the prettiest mandolins I have ever seen photographed. I am really happy for you! Great job, Andy, as well.
    2017 Collings MT GT Wide Nut
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  23. #12
    Registered User usqebach's Avatar
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    Default Re: Alrite Tribute

    Well, there's another one for "the list."

    Unfortunately, the ability of these talented builders to make amazing mandolins is far outstripping my ability to pay for them.

    I need to make a deal with Scott T. to have my paycheck direct deposited at Mandolin Cafe Bank. When enough money builds up, he can send me a mandolin from "the list," along with a 50lb sack of rice for subsistence living!
    Jim Sims

    " Amateurs practice until they get it right - professionals practice until they can't get it wrong."
    "Me?... I don't practice."

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  25. #13

    Default Re: Alrite Tribute

    Oh wow, I really like this. I have had many Flatiron army-navy style mandos pass through my hands, and still have my original 1N, plus a Gibson AN I recently acquired. I had a Redline for a short time too. Several years ago I bought a 1917 Gibson Alrite off EBAY, but as you stated, it was in need of lots of repair. I ended up selling it to a luthier who was going to restore it. I do not know if he ever did. Like many on here, I have admired Poe's work but never played one. This Alrite tribute is very interesting to me. Thanks for sharing and maybe you could post a video sometime.

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  27. #14
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Alrite Tribute

    What a beauty.

    I played on an Alrite years back, but it was in such bad and neglected condition refurbished to playable, it was hard to know what original sound was coming out.

    Post some sound clips if you get a chance.

    I am thrilled to see flat tops getting their due.
    Indulge responsibly!

    The entire staff
    funny....

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  29. #15
    two t's and one hyphen fatt-dad's Avatar
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    Default Re: Alrite Tribute

    MAS is a wonderful problem to have! Well done. Well done. . .

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

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

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  31. #16
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Alrite Tribute

    Quote Originally Posted by pheffernan View Post
    ...And the tailpiece is an original Waverly cloud, sourced from Dave Stutzman's drawer of forgotten antiquities (thanks Allen Hopkins!)...
    You're welcome! Over the weekend, Dave found me a "period" replacement bridge for my B & J Victoria bowl-back, from what he termed his "mandolin graveyard."

    Charged me $15, plus tax. Cafe-ers looking for vintage replacement parts should check your local dealers' "junk drawers"; many a usable bridge, tailpiece, set of tuners etc. has been pulled off an unfixable instrument, and saved for possible future use. One of the many virtues of recycling.
    Allen Hopkins
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  33. #17
    My Florida is scooped pheffernan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Alrite Tribute

    For those parties interested in Andy's write-up on the build and additional pictures of the mandolin, he has added the linked page to his website: http://www.poestrings.net/poe-74-scout-mandolin
    1924 Gibson A Snakehead
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  34. #18
    Moderator JEStanek's Avatar
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    Default Re: Alrite Tribute

    Sweet mandolin!

    Jamie
    There are two things to aim at in life: first, to get what you want; and, after that, to enjoy it. Only the wisest of mankind achieve the second. Logan Pearsall Smith, 1865 - 1946

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  36. #19
    Poe Scout NewKid's Avatar
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    Default Re: Alrite Tribute

    Top of the line! Congratulations Pat.
    2009 Phoenix Bluegrass
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  38. #20

    Default Re: Alrite Tribute

    After looking at the photos on Andy's site, I no longer have to ask what you're doing with a long sleeve flannel shirt in FL.
    the billyhawks http://www.thebillyhawks.com

    Original Melodies for Mandolin, Mandola & Mandocello
    http://www.HillbillyChamberMusic.com

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  40. #21
    I really look like that soliver's Avatar
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    Default Re: Alrite Tribute

    LOVE it!!! I am really a fan of the look of the Gibson A-N's and pancakes myself... I'm currently saving up for one of Terry's creations over at Crystal Forest.

    Stellar write up for a beautiful and wonderfully unique instrument!
    aka: Spencer
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