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Thread: Clawson mandolins

  1. #1

    Default Clawson mandolins

    Used to see them pop up once and a while.Harry West once told me he played one a lot because of the neck. Anybody had one got one heard one lately? I think Rick Allred may have had one.

  2. #2
    Registered User f5loar's Avatar
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    Default Re: Clawson mandolins

    Rick had one and still has it. It is his NO. 1 mandolin and I doubt he would ever part with it. Dean was a great fiddler and built some pretty decent fiddles but his mandolins were hit or miss and considered "rough around the edges". I can say this now becasue Dean died some years ago. Some necks were clunky, some too thin and some just right. He was off on his patterns and usually did not get the neck angle right. His finish was nowhere near perfection but did give them protection. He didn't really try to copy Loar specs only the Loar inspiration. Other than Rick's which is pretty awesome picking and sounding I've not found a Clawson I liked. The ones Harry has didn't do much for me. I played one that was at a Flea Market in Deep Gap. Me and Doc Watson sat down and picked a few and that Clawson made my fingers sore for 2 weeks after that pickin' session. I'd say your odds are not very good at finding a really good one. Some have been reworked by other luthiers to help in fine tuning them and they were made better.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Clawson mandolins

    I saw one at Mike's Music store in Cincinnati about 7 years ago. I was shocked when I first saw it on the wall (from a distance) because it really did look like a 20's Gibson F-5, albeit a highly distressed one. It had a huge discolored area on the above the bass side f-hole -- might have been a repair. When I asked to see it I knew at once it was not a Gibson as the workmanship was pretty rough - binding, finish, inlay looked a bit crude. Still the sunburst and color was right on and it certainly had a lot of charm, at least for me, and I briefly weighed buying it. It sound pretty decent and it was certainly not optimal test either because the strings were ancient and cruddy looking - almost did not want to touch them. The Clawson was better than than the 972 F-12 I had at the time at least. As I recall though the price seemed to bit too high -- really do not remember what it was. But Mike is very knowledgeable and seemed to know a good deal about Clawson -- so he thought there just might be the possibility or getting that for it. I had never heard of Clawson so I let it go. It eventually sold to someone -- no idea how much.
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  4. #4

    Default Re: Clawson mandolins

    The mandolin player that playe in the band 22 Connection i believe played one It sounded pretty good but he was a pretty good player. That band also included Kevin Richardson Of Lou Reids and larry stepensons band

  5. #5
    Registered User f5loar's Avatar
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    Default Re: Clawson mandolins

    I remember that one. Most of the Clawsons stayed close to home in the NC/SC area. But how many Carl Spann F5s have you seen?

  6. #6

    Default Re: Clawson mandolins

    Played Ricks way back when he was with the Gents....crude to say the least. Neck like a fence post. He sure made it sound good.

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    Default Re: Clawson mandolins

    You're telling me that Rick used his Clawson on the 2 or 3 CG recordings he was on? Great sounding playing on those.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Clawson mandolins

    Quote Originally Posted by AlanN View Post
    You're telling me that Rick used his Clawson on the 2 or 3 CG recordings he was on? Great sounding playing on those.
    Yes

  9. #9

    Default Re: Clawson mandolins

    Seems like ALan Bibey use to play a Spann
    Danny Clark

  10. #10
    Registered User f5loar's Avatar
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    Default Re: Clawson mandolins

    I think you are right but he let it go about the time he got his 20's Fern during the "New Quicksilver" band. Rick is a real tone master on pretty much anything he plays. He just likes the way the Clawson was set up and the feel it had. I'm sure he did use it to record those CG recordings. I like the tone he got and the tone Kent Dowell got on his mid70's RB250 banjo. Crude would be a good description as that is how I would describe all of the Clawsons. The Spanns were a tad better but not likely you will see a Spann outside of the region of NC/SC. Not sure if Spann is still building mandolins. These NC mandolin builders like Clawson, Spann,Ward,Shue,etc have made we wonder where did all their mandolins go and who is picking them now. I just don't see that many of them around my area anymore. And you don't seem many come up for sale. My guess is each of these builders made around 100 mandolins either A's or F's. That's over 400 mandolins. Any cafe members want to come forth with these builders information?

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    Default Re: Clawson mandolins

    I played Rick's just a few nights ago and it does have a really good sound but the neck is the thinnest, say from the front of the fingerboard to the back of the neck that I have ever seen on anything. But Rick can really make that thing talk.

  12. #12

    Default Re: Clawson mandolins

    i have owned atleast one each of the Clawson,Ward,and Shue,never a Spann tho,i to use to see them for sell alot ,as mentioned earlier Harry West use to have 5 or 6 by each except Spann,
    Danny Clark

  13. #13

    Default Re: Clawson mandolins

    Quote Originally Posted by f5loar View Post
    I think you are right but he let it go about the time he got his 20's Fern during the "New Quicksilver" band. Rick is a real tone master on pretty much anything he plays. He just likes the way the Clawson was set up and the feel it had. I'm sure he did use it to record those CG recordings. I like the tone he got and the tone Kent Dowell got on his mid70's RB250 banjo. Crude would be a good description as that is how I would describe all of the Clawsons. The Spanns were a tad better but not likely you will see a Spann outside of the region of NC/SC. Not sure if Spann is still building mandolins. These NC mandolin builders like Clawson, Spann,Ward,Shue,etc have made we wonder where did all their mandolins go and who is picking them now. I just don't see that many of them around my area anymore. And you don't seem many come up for sale. My guess is each of these builders made around 100 mandolins either A's or F's. That's over 400 mandolins. Any cafe members want to come forth with these builders information?
    Used to be a lot of Shues NOt quite as many Wards.Howard Greene that played with Bluegrass 76 had a Shue A guy Named Cobb Knight,Buster Hegler,Ivan Austin all played Shues. Bruce Jones had a couple Wards the one he has now is real nice. jason Frayly of Deeper Shade Of Blue Had a Ward A model.He is a super picker.I believe Alan Perdue played a Ward Ever Since Bruce Jones taughy me how to play Soldiers Joy i have had a soft spot for Wards.And not to belittle a man after he is dead I think if CE Ward hadnt had a drinking problem He would be on th same level as Hutto.Wood and some of the greats .His good ones are very hard to beat.He was a good mandolin player dynamite banjo player good singer ,alot of talent in one body

  14. #14

    Default Re: Clawson mandolins

    i owned a very good C.E. Ward A ,that was owned by Wayne Benson,it was small sorta like a 3/4 size,but it was a hoss,had The Gibson inlayed and labels,onE stated it was a copy
    Danny Clark

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    Registered User mandobassman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Clawson mandolins

    Quote Originally Posted by AlanN View Post
    You're telling me that Rick used his Clawson on the 2 or 3 CG recordings he was on? Great sounding playing on those.
    Did Rick use it just for recording? I saw the Gents a couple of times when he was with them and he was using s Kentucky KM-1500 (I think it was a 1500). I also remember pictures of Summer Wages and he was holding a Kentucky in those.
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  16. #16
    Registered User f5loar's Avatar
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    Default Re: Clawson mandolins

    Yeap he is holding a KM1000 from the 80's on at least one of the Summer Wages LP covers. Not sure why but I guess he did have one I just never saw him with one. I've known him and played in bands with him since the early 80's and only saw him with the Clawson and he told me he really liked it a lot. He had played other Clawsons but never found one as good as his. Forget the number but was a low number one. He gets really clean tone with complex sounds. He played one of my Gibson F5s and sounded the same.
    CE Ward did really great work on banjos and some really fine mandolins both As and Fs. His drinking problem did lead to problems with his making instruments. I've played in bands with CE (and Bob Shue) and CE told me one time he got drunk and inlayed a "The Gibson" F5 copy and left off some of the little pieces of pearl in the flowerpot and finished it that way. I knew Clawson too and these guys are just super guys to know and get to pick with.

  17. #17

    Default Re: Clawson mandolins

    What ever happened to the dehorned CE Ward mandolins the one with no lap points.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Clawson mandolins

    I picked on one of them at Bass mtn a few years ago. Had a real look to it, all round and smooth. Had good tone and was easy on the fingers. The owner said it had a huge cost drop because of the no points.

  19. #19

    Default Re: Clawson mandolins

    I can remember a guy playing a real nice Ward at Oakboro Music Hall .He played in a good upper level regional band thet were well known but i cant remember the name. f5loar any ideas It was labeled The Gibson

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Clawson mandolins

    Quote Originally Posted by f5loar View Post
    I think you are right but he let it go about the time he got his 20's Fern during the "New Quicksilver" band. Rick is a real tone master on pretty much anything he plays. He just likes the way the Clawson was set up and the feel it had. I'm sure he did use it to record those CG recordings. I like the tone he got and the tone Kent Dowell got on his mid70's RB250 banjo. Crude would be a good description as that is how I would describe all of the Clawsons. The Spanns were a tad better but not likely you will see a Spann outside of the region of NC/SC. Not sure if Spann is still building mandolins. These NC mandolin builders like Clawson, Spann,Ward,Shue,etc have made we wonder where did all their mandolins go and who is picking them now. I just don't see that many of them around my area anymore. And you don't seem many come up for sale. My guess is each of these builders made around 100 mandolins either A's or F's. That's over 400 mandolins. Any cafe members want to come forth with these builders information?
    I have a Bob Shue mandolin -- it is a bit rough in terms of finish details but it sounds just dandy.
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  21. #21
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    Default Re: Clawson mandolins

    A guy years ago had a Shue F, the first one I saw. His name was Rufus Land, I think from NC.

  22. #22

    Default Re: Clawson mandolins

    Anybody got a picture of a Spann dont know if ive seen one?

  23. #23
    Registered User f5loar's Avatar
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    Default Re: Clawson mandolins

    the only person I've seen with a Spann was Spann. I'd like to know who else owns one too.

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    Default Re: Clawson mandolins

    Here's a feller holding one
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    Default Re: Clawson mandolins

    I saw a Clawson at Mullis Music in Concord 5 or 6 years ago, and, Tom, I agree with your assessment...a little rough around the edges, but it sounded decent. I remember the neck being a fairly sharp V and also skinnier than I like...it was the first mando I'd seen with a pronounced V and a speed neck. Can't remember the price, but it sold within a couple of months.

    The only Shue I've seen was at Harry West's store back in January. It was a much cleaner mandolin than the Clawson, but it had been sitting for a while and had pretty ancient strings on it, so I can't begin to comment on how it sounded. Felt pretty good, though. You think you'd see more of these (local NC/SC built) mandolins pop up for sale...
    Chuck

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