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Thread: Stefan Sobell mandolins and other instruments

  1. #1
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    Default Stefan Sobell mandolins and other instruments

    Stefan Sobell's beautiful luthiery - small bodied 4 course mandolin 1983, European spruce and Indian rosewood, mahogany neck & 4 course octave mandolin 1993, European spruce and Brazilian rosewood, mahogany neck. Hard to believe is 30 years since I got the wee mandolin from Stefan - its defined much of my life.

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    Registered User Paul Brett's Avatar
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    Default Re: Stefan Sobell mandolins and other instruments

    I've only ever had a few minutes with any Sobel instrument but I've never put one down and not said to myself "one day." last one I heard was an OM at a session in Cork and I could make it out over the 10 + instrument there. Not for loudness but the instrument "rung" out over the others.

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  5. #3
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    Default Re: Stefan Sobell mandolins and other instruments

    Anyone else got a Sobell mandolin they can show us?

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    Default Re: Stefan Sobell mandolins and other instruments

    A few years ago at IBMA , Stan Werblen, Owner of Elderly Music, showed my a used Sobell, about 6 yrs old. I fell in love with that instrument. Like PGB said, I said to myself, "One day". I have regretted not pulling the trigger on that instrument ever since. I found myself checking reputable dealers for one about a week ago. "One day..."
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    Default Re: Stefan Sobell mandolins and other instruments

    Kevin, here is my 77. Back then he did not designate as large or small bodied, but it is humongous. And wonderful. I love the 1 3/8" wide nut (that is not a typo by the way). Rings till next Sunday and has a truly unique sound. Rosewood back and sides, mahogany neck, cedar top. It came with a blue, angular, fiberglass case made by a gentleman near to Stefan's house. This one was made at Turf House in Steel, before the move to The Old School.

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    Default Re: Stefan Sobell mandolins and other instruments

    Great to see this, thanks! It looks and is probably identical to the one my brother in law Tim Jones got fairly recently in Scotland, second hand. I'll dig out pix - Tim may have some to hand. Mine is a wee bit younger 1983 and a completely different design, a radical rethink from your one, and in a red case! I'll post some pix.
    cheers
    Kevin

  11. #7
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    Default Re: Stefan Sobell mandolins and other instruments

    Remember John, if you ever want to part with it, you know who to call first...! I'd still like to get one someday.
    Too many instruments...too little time

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    Default Re: Stefan Sobell mandolins and other instruments

    Bruce, of course you will be invited to my wake and can pick it up at that time!

    Seriously, of all the mandolins that have come into my family over the years, this is the only one I have never had the slightest notion to swap out.
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    Default Re: Stefan Sobell mandolins and other instruments

    Some comparisons of these two early period Stefan Sobell mandolins.
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    Default Re: Stefan Sobell mandolins and other instruments

    The earlier and larger one is a 1978, and mine is 1983 ....

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    Default Re: Stefan Sobell mandolins and other instruments

    Here's a demo of my Sobell mandolin, for interest. Several different tempos ....


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  18. #12
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    Default Re: Stefan Sobell mandolins and other instruments

    Anyone else got a Sobell mandolin? Or are they that rare?

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    Default Re: Stefan Sobell mandolins and other instruments

    Wonderful sound! Out of my price range, I'm afraid.

  20. #14

    Default Re: Stefan Sobell mandolins and other instruments

    I'm waiting for a phone call from Daniel Brauchli in Tasmania, telling me to come and pick up my new mandolin, which could be the twin of the above Sobells. Daniel's mandolins are by far the best sounding that I've ever played - plenty of volume, lovely balance over all four courses and amazing sustain.

  21. #15
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    Default Re: Stefan Sobell mandolins and other instruments

    Quote Originally Posted by kmmando View Post
    Anyone else got a Sobell mandolin? Or are they that rare?
    It seems like in the US they are pretty rare. In 30 years of running around with mine, I have only come across two or three "in the wild". His citterns and such are more common here, but the mandolins are very rare it seems.
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    Default Re: Stefan Sobell mandolins and other instruments

    Could you upload a picture or two, John? It would be interesting to see yours? When did you buy it? And was it new?
    Cheers, Kevin Macleod

  23. #17
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    Default Re: Stefan Sobell mandolins and other instruments

    Here you go Kevin. The first one I posted up above does not do it justice. It is a 77, per Stefan's assessment when I visited him. The tailpieces were made by his son back then. It was made at Turf House, before the move to the Old School. Cedar top, rosewood back and sides, mahogany neck. I bought it used in 83 from a store that I don't think appreciated it. It has the classic cracks between the end of the fretboard and the soundhole on both sides that all or most of them from that era have. They do not affect the sound at all. There is an original arch shaped brace that stops the cracks from going further. The case was made by a neighbor of Stefan's, Bill Flatman, who made them in the 70's and early 80's. Blue fiberglass that is lined with genuine Papa Smurf hide. My friends call it a Darth Vader case, because of the angles I guess, but I like the Smurf connection better.

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    Default Re: Stefan Sobell mandolins and other instruments

    Indulge responsibly!

    The entire staff
    funny....

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    Default Re: Stefan Sobell mandolins and other instruments

    Here's a photo of my Sobell mandolin, which I purchased directly from Stefan back in 1976, also from Turf House in Steel. I believe this instrument was the first mandolin he sent to the United States. It originally came shipped in a black "coffin case," really a shipping crate, which I used until I had a Harptone case made for it. I loved this mandolin but sold it to a friend about five months ago due to a persistent problem with focal dystonia in my picking hand.

    I learned about Stefan's instruments from Jay Unger. I took lessons from Jay, who was a friend of Dave Richardson of the Boys of the Lough. That's how I found out about Stefan's beautiful instruments. When I sold the mandolin back in July, the instrument was in great shape and it really hurt to let it go. Finally, I met my wife a few years after I bought the Sobell mandolin. It turns out she's from the same areaClick image for larger version. 

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  27. #20
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    Default Re: Stefan Sobell mandolins and other instruments

    Guys that's brilliant, great tales too and the Dave Richardson/BOTL connection was a major part of the Sobells becoming well known. Thanks for posting these most interesting images and comments.

    Kevin Macleod

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    Default Re: Stefan Sobell mandolins and other instruments

    Stefan in 1995 with my newly made octave manolin in Brazilian rosewood, spruce soundboard and mahogany neck. I still have her, gorgeous big sound. Click image for larger version. 

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    Registered User Chris Oliver's Avatar
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    Default Re: Stefan Sobell mandolins and other instruments

    Those are some beautiful Sobell mandolins. They inspired me to create a few myself. Here is a 'similar to Sobell' I just completed though with a carved top.


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  32. #23
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    Default Re: Stefan Sobell mandolins and other instruments

    Just seen this thread on a "long necked" Sobell mandolin ... interesting!

    http://www.sobellinstruments.com/en-gb/news2013.aspx

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    Default Re: Stefan Sobell mandolins and other instruments

    Looks like it's gone now, but there was a great-looking archtop guitar-bodied bouzouki for sale on Sobell's site recently.

    Patrick
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  34. #25
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    Default Re: Stefan Sobell mandolins and other instruments

    Here's another less common Sobell variant: a 5-string banjo-cittern/banjola-type thing. I think he's made 4 or 5 of these, none of which belong to me, unfortunately.
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