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Thread: My New Unicorn Mandolin

  1. #1

    Default My New Unicorn Mandolin

    I have looked for a Unicorn Mandolin ever since I sold the one I bought back in the late 70's...one of the dumber things I have ever done. This one is #67 (out of 149) made by Rolfe Gerhardt of Phoenix Mandolins in Maine and I just got it last week. I am unsure as to why these instruments continue to be under valued and I hate to speculate on that sort of thing...there are no real answers that are credible. But, given the small number made, the obvious US based craftsmanship, the overall beautiful wood, they are a major bargain if you can find one that comes up for sale. Then when you hear it...wow!!! I'd love to hear from other Unicorn owners. Click image for larger version. 

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  3. #2
    Registered User Stephen Cagle's Avatar
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    Default Re: My New Unicorn Mandolin

    Never played one however your mando looks awesome and I'm sure it sounds pretty awesome as well. Do you know what year # 67 falls under? Enjoy your mando..

  4. #3

    Default Re: My New Unicorn Mandolin

    It was made in April 1977, so a bit over 36 years old.

  5. #4
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    Default Re: My New Unicorn Mandolin

    Thanks for posting pictures of your Unicorn! I used to own Unicorn #106 from 1978. It was a really great mandolin, but the neck was so tiny that my hand cramped up playing it. I still own Unicorn #147 from 1980, which is (I think) two serial numbers before Rolfe sold the company. My #147 is a custom model with a custom fingerboard inlay, and the label says, "Susan's Special." Rolfe made it for his wife, who really isn't a player. It sat basically unplayed for over 25 years before I asked if he'd be willing to sell it. It's a really well-made and great-sounding mandolin.
    Marc

  6. #5

    Default Re: My New Unicorn Mandolin

    I've never played one but David Finch at round mountain sounds has a couple I think. He also has a Unicorn archive on his website.


    http://www.roundmountainsounds.com/U...0/Default.aspx

  7. #6
    Registered User William Smith's Avatar
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    Default Re: My New Unicorn Mandolin

    Never played a Unicorn but did own a 1995 Phoenix Ultra that was pretty kool. Got rid ofit years ago and nowI see its been for sale a while at Charles Johnsons Mandolin World Headquarters website. maybe serial # 168? Good mandolin, loved the skinny neck and the pearl flash.

  8. #7
    MandoHog MandoHog's Avatar
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    Default Re: My New Unicorn Mandolin

    Wow! Very Nice Stan. Congrats! We want more pictures please. I don't know how I missed #67 but glad it went to a great home where it will be loved. I think part of the deal with the way these jewels are valued is that SO few of them trade it's hard to gauge the cost. They ARE way under valued. Fine Fine Fine instruments. I might call you sometime soon. I'd love to hear the full story of your quest! Thanks! David

  9. #8
    Kelley Mandolins Skip Kelley's Avatar
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    Default Re: My New Unicorn Mandolin

    Congratulations Stan! I played one years ago and it was one of the best mandolins I have ever played!

  10. #9

    Default Re: My New Unicorn Mandolin

    Rolfe is an accessible guy and was generous with his time (email) when I sourced this one. He can be reached through the info@ on his website.
    Last edited by StanChew; Oct-31-2013 at 12:40pm. Reason: redundant

  11. #10

    Default Re: My New Unicorn Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by maj34 View Post
    Thanks for posting pictures of your Unicorn! I used to own Unicorn #106 from 1978. It was a really great mandolin, but the neck was so tiny that my hand cramped up playing it. I still own Unicorn #147 from 1980, which is (I think) two serial numbers before Rolfe sold the company. My #147 is a custom model with a custom fingerboard inlay, and the label says, "Susan's Special." Rolfe made it for his wife, who really isn't a player. It sat basically unplayed for over 25 years before I asked if he'd be willing to sell it. It's a really well-made and great-sounding mandolin.
    WOW - what a great story and thanks for sharing. I got used to the neck early on and though my fingers are a bit thick, it doesn't bother me. Stoked that you have #147...2 shy of being the last.

  12. #11

    Default Re: My New Unicorn Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by Skip Kelley View Post
    Congratulations Stan! I played one years ago and it was one of the best mandolins I have ever played!
    Thanks Kelly - appreciate that...I still wonder why the value is so low? Mandolins, brand new, from Korea are not much cheaper - it just doesn't make sense to me. Maybe I am old fashioned, but to my line of thinking, age, tone and local craftsmanship should be rewarded.

  13. #12

    Default Re: My New Unicorn Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by MandoHog View Post
    Wow! Very Nice Stan. Congrats! We want more pictures please. I don't know how I missed #67 but glad it went to a great home where it will be loved. I think part of the deal with the way these jewels are valued is that SO few of them trade it's hard to gauge the cost. They ARE way under valued. Fine Fine Fine instruments. I might call you sometime soon. I'd love to hear the full story of your quest! Thanks! David
    Thanks for that David and maybe you are on to the reason why.

  14. #13

    Default Re: My New Unicorn Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by harryclark View Post
    I've never played one but David Finch at round mountain sounds has a couple I think. He also has a Unicorn archive on his website.


    http://www.roundmountainsounds.com/U...0/Default.aspx
    I reached out to David and indeed he has "A herd" of Unicorns.

  15. #14

    Default Re: My New Unicorn Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by Skip Kelley View Post
    Congratulations Stan! I played one years ago and it was one of the best mandolins I have ever played!
    WOW...what beautiful instruments Skip. Impressive!

  16. #15
    Registered User Bill Snyder's Avatar
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    Default Re: My New Unicorn Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by StanChew View Post
    WOW...what beautiful instruments Skip. Impressive!
    You have that right. Skip is always offering up compliments to everyone elses work all the while building beautiful mandolins himself.
    I hope the blessings he provides to others with his encouraging words are returned multiplied back to him.
    Bill Snyder

  17. #16
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    Default Re: My New Unicorn Mandolin

    It's been a while since anyone has contributed to this thread, and even longer since I have contributed anywhere in this forum. I found this thread while looking up info on Unicorn mandolins. I have a long relation with Unicorn mandolins. It started in about 1976 when I wanted to "upgrade" (haha) from my first mandolin, a Gibson A2Z. I felt I had advanced to the point of needing an F5 style mandolin. I went to the big city to check out the music stores. One I went into had Unicorn hanging on the wall. I didn't even touch it because it was not an F model. I ended up getting an Ibanez. I had a friend who came up with a very early U18 back in the late 70s. It was just the best mandolin. I loved it. It was so open and responsive, loud, bassy, woody- everything I wanted but the Ibanez was not. So, after much begging, he refused to sell it to me. He did agree to ride to Elderly with me in 1979, where I bought a new Unicorn. It was also amazing. So much so, my dad ordered a new Master Model Classic from Rolfe. It was # 146. I guess you could say he got it for me. I played it and played it a lot. So, I had two Unicorns. Then I got another. Then I got a Bicentennial. I think I have owned maybe 10 different Unicorns, and had maybe five at once at one time. I was always a bit of trader. I ended up selling the first Unicorn I bought to a student. He died in a drowning accident in Florida, and I never knew where that mandolin ended up. I did end up buying that very first Unicorn U18 I saw, and ended up selling it to a friend, and she still has it. A couple years ago I bought #70, and let a friend talk me out of it. He loves it. I once sold #146. It was gone about 12 years. I got it back from the guy I sold it to. Unicorn mandolins are incredible. They are consistently excellent mandolins. Beautiful wood, artfully simplistic. Very responsive, very light weight. I have had the pleasure of doing business with Rolfe Gerhardt since 1980 when we first ordered from him, and he has always been pleasant and most helpful.
    A wrong note played timidly is a wrong note. A wrong note played with authority is an interpretation.

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  19. #17

    Default Re: My New Unicorn Mandolin

    Moderator's Edit: Please refrain from selling instruments here as per Forum Guidelines. You are welcome to post instruments for sale in the Classifieds.
    Last edited by Ted Eschliman; Aug-15-2017 at 1:19pm.

  20. #18

    Default Re: My New Unicorn Mandolin

    Moderator's Edit: See above.
    Last edited by Ted Eschliman; Aug-15-2017 at 1:19pm.

  21. #19

    Default Re: My New Unicorn Mandolin

    A while back I played a Unicorn mandolin with the top plate signed by Bill Monroe. Back then I have never heard of Unicorn and I was more excited about the signature. I don't think the mandolin sounded too special, but I can't really remember.

  22. #20
    wood butcher Spruce's Avatar
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    Default Re: My New Unicorn Mandolin

    Wasn't Rolfe known for using Douglas Fir in these instruments?

  23. #21
    Phoenix Mandolins Jenny's Avatar
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    Default Re: My New Unicorn Mandolin

    Yes, Rolfe used Douglas Fir.
    Jenny Warner

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  25. #22

    Default Re: My New Unicorn Mandolin

    All I can say is that Mr. Aldridge definitely knows his mandolins. If he says it is a good mandolin you can believe it!

    I am glad to hear that some of the Unicorns had a "tiny" or smallish neck. With my short fingers I have come to appreciate small/thin necks/narrower fingerboards(would love to play a Skaggs MM someday!)

    Hope I am able to play a Unicorn someday as I plan to sell/trade some of my mandos for a goodun with a more violin-ish neck.

    Shame on me for neglecting Unicorns when shopping for mandos. I didn't think they looked "gibsonish" enough. Wish I would have been more open-minded.

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  27. #23
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    Default Re: My New Unicorn Mandolin

    Only just stumbled onto this thread. I have a Unicorn Special Model, #177, made in 1985 by Dave Sinko, who bought the company from Mr Gerhardt. It's an F5, blonde, notable for its volume/projection. Sweet tone, too. I doubt I'd need a better f-hole mandolin in this lifetime.

    FWIW, a shop in Japan is selling an A-style Unicorn for about 3K. It's missing the tailpiece cover and the tension rod cover on the peghead; don't know what that's all about.

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  29. #24
    MandoHog MandoHog's Avatar
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    Default Re: My New Unicorn Mandolin

    Bob, ....a shop in Japan is selling an A-style Unicorn for about 3K. It's missing the tailpiece cover and the tension rod cover on the peghead; don't know what that's all about....

    whats the store or website? You remember that number it is? Thanks, David Finch (mandohog)

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  31. #25
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    Default Re: My New Unicorn Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by MandoHog View Post
    Bob, ....a shop in Japan is selling an A-style Unicorn for about 3K. It's missing the tailpiece cover and the tension rod cover on the peghead; don't know what that's all about....

    whats the store or website? You remember that number it is? Thanks, David Finch (mandohog)
    Yup. Here ya go:
    https://www.ebay.com/itm/Unicorn-A-S...MAAOSwJKxalEla

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