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Thread: Crystal Forest Mandolins - any reviews?

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    Default Crystal Forest Mandolins - any reviews?

    Looking at a Crystal Forest Mandolin - "flat top", Army-Navy (A-N) style mandolin. Made in the USA. It's posted here on the Classifieds . Has anybody tried one of these? Looks real nice, and the price seems great for a hand made mandolin.

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    Registered User mandobassman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Crystal Forest Mandolins - any reviews?

    A friend of mine has one and I asked him about it recently. He lives a considerable distance away so I Haven't had the chance to play it myself. Hopefully, he won't mind my quoting his comments to me about it.

    "I really like this Crystal Forest mandolin. Terry had one in the classifieds a couple of months back for a considerable discount, so I jumped on it. He must love building them because he sure can't be making much money at it. He does nice work and it sounds great. Its sound is about as different from my Weber CVA as you can get, so it's a nice contrast."

    I'm sure there will be more comments from others. They do indeed look nice.
    Larry Hunsberger

    2013 J Bovier A5 Special w/ToneGard
    D'Addario FW-74 flatwound strings
    1909 Weymann&Sons bowlback
    Ibanez PF5
    1993 Oriente HO-20 hybrid double bass
    3/4 guitar converted to octave mandolin

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    Registered User Bob Clark's Avatar
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    Default Re: Crystal Forest Mandolins - any reviews?

    Hi Pete,

    Larry's talking about my Crystal Forest (#14). He's right, I really do love it. Hey Larry, we really do have to find some time to get together!!!

    I've had it for a couple of months now. I liked it when I got it, and I like it better day-by-day. I think these Army-Navy mandolins are a great addition to anyone's arsenal of mandolin-family instruments because they really are very different from the carved-tops. The flat tops (or slightly induced arch of Terry's instruments) sound different from arched tops. I'm also enjoying the shorter neck and flush fret board as a contrast to my more modern-styled elevated fret board instruments. It's all about contrasts. Variety makes the playing more interesting.

    If someone is just beginning in the mando world and wants to get started for not too much money, I think A-Ns are a good choice because they will be buying an instrument they will want to keep even after they get a bad case of MAS and buy a more expensive carved instrument. If one is already in the mando world and just looking to explore different sounds, again the A-N mando works.

    As for Crystal Forest mandolins in particular, they have an awful lot to recommend them. Terry is a one-man-shop luthier and really does a great job. The workmanship of the instrument is flawless. I've had mine long enough now that I'd have noticed any off joiner-work and I can see no flaws anywhere in the wood work. He uses beautiful wood and really brings out the grain with great stain work. Look at his website, specifically the "recently sold" page which is http://crystalforestmandolins.com/recentlysold.html Click on one of the instruments for a hot link to more pictures. Mine is http://crystalforestmandolins.com/CF14sold.html You'll see the quality of his work. The pictures of mine don't nearly do it justice. It really is a thing of beauty. The only flaw I see is that if you look very closely, the nitrocellulose lacquer is not absolutely mirror flat. That's not a criticism, just a very minor point. It's not a factory instrument and it shows the handwork of the master who made it. He's doing great work.

    As for its sound, I'm not going to enter the hornet's nest of using words to describe sound. That leads to all kinds of issues here on the Cafe. What I will say is that the sound of these flat-tops is different enough from the carved-tops that it's ultimately well worth having both instruments in your collection. You will have instances where you will prefer one over the other. My Crystal Forest sounds great for Folk, Spanish/South American music, Renaissance music (a favorite of mine) and classical (you should try Bach on it!). I'd describe the sound as less-refined than the carved tops, more earthy or raw, each of which is meant as a complimentary descriptor (but I said I wouldn't try to describe the sound, so don't read too much into that!!!). It really sounds great. I am addicted to the sound of it and it's a lot of fun to play. Mine is an oval hole but he makes ff as well.

    As for price, I really think he is underselling his craftsmanship, and as such, underpaying himself. I'm glad I got mine when I did because one of these days he's bound to figure out what they should actually be selling for and the price will go up. I think it comes down to the fact that Terry loves what he's doing and is doing it for the joy of it. But he must be putting an awful lot of time into these mandos and I'll bet if he calculated it, he's not making minimum wage! I'd like to add that he seems to be a really nice guy who's great to deal with. I wish he was near by. I'd love to sit down and pick with him sometime.

    All of these compliments to the instrument are not due to the infatuation that often follows a recent acquisition. I've had mine long enough that I think I'd be over that infatuation by now. I've had enough mandolins to know what I like, and I've had this one long enough to know it's a keeper. I'd be happy to answer any more questions you might have. Feel free to PM me if you'd like.

    Does this read like a recommendation for Crystal Forest mandolins? I hope so. As I said, I love mine.

    Best wishes, Bob

    P.S. I think this thread is in the wrong category. Any chance of getting it moved to where it ought to be?
    Purr more, hiss less.

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    Registered User mandobassman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Crystal Forest Mandolins - any reviews?

    Wow1 You asked for an opinion and Bob gave you a complete and thorough review. Well done Bob.
    Larry Hunsberger

    2013 J Bovier A5 Special w/ToneGard
    D'Addario FW-74 flatwound strings
    1909 Weymann&Sons bowlback
    Ibanez PF5
    1993 Oriente HO-20 hybrid double bass
    3/4 guitar converted to octave mandolin

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    Default Re: Crystal Forest Mandolins - any reviews?

    I'm looking forward to #20. It's in transit to my house. Should be here Tuesday. The builder, Terry Majewski was a really nice guy on the phone. The photos of his instruments look amazing. It should be a nice contrast to my Eastman 615.

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    Default Re: Crystal Forest Mandolins - any reviews?

    Thanks!

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    Default Re: Crystal Forest Mandolins - any reviews?

    Wow! Just got my Army Navy style mandolin with a California redwood top and red maple back and sides. What a work of art! It makes my Eastman 615 look unfinished! And I like my Eastman. This Crystal Forest mandolin is loud with beautiful e string bell tones. I am impressed m

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