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Thread: In Praise of Michael Heiden

  1. #1

    Default In Praise of Michael Heiden

    Michael Heiden doesn't get talked about a lot here, or at least not much lately. A few months ago I purchased this A5 (#A54 from 2010) from the classifieds. I've never owned a more responsive mandolin with such clarity of tone. It's very understated in the brown burst with just the wheat inlay as the only real decoration. It plays like a dream with the EVO frets, radiused board and the most comfortable slim (fast) neck I've ever played. Red spruce top, 1 piece back, varnish, Waverly tuners.

    Would love to see some photos of your Heiden mandolins.

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    the billyhawks http://thebillyhawks.bandcamp.com

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

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: In Praise of Michael Heiden

    I attended the Montana Old Time Fiddlers Camp where John Reischman was my instructor and he brought his Heiden F. It was a most impressive instrument with a great tone but, John could make a cheap mando sound great. If I was looking for a high quality build, he would be one of the top 3.

  4. #3
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    Default Re: In Praise of Michael Heiden

    Sounds like you've got your hands on a nice musical partner!

    I really dig that wheat inlay though it's a nice touch on a different take for headstock inlays. How's that truss rod cover stay on? String tension?

  5. #4

    Default Re: In Praise of Michael Heiden

    I knew Michael back in my Vancouver days, a great builder then and even better now. he was a fun guy and a great musician.

    I had an octave mandolin by him but I foolishly sold it.i still have two nice Appalachian dulcimers made by heiden.

    all his instruments are great but his mandolins are right up there. I know a few people with his top of the line A's , they all rave about them. his dulcimers sound very nice.

    he made a few great guitars as well. chriss coole of Toronto and more of banjo fame has a great heiden guitar.

    I once heard a heiden A next to an f and they were different but it was am a matter of taste between them for sound. the ellis was owned by the same guy who gave me the pick I put up a picture of just a few minutes ago.

  6. #5

    Default Re: In Praise of Michael Heiden

    Nick, I have no idea on the truss rod cover. It's ebony and I'm guessing it's a friction fit, but I'm not messing with it because the neck is perfect as is. I might have to contact Michael and see what the deal is on it.
    the billyhawks http://thebillyhawks.bandcamp.com

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

  7. #6
    Registered User rockies's Avatar
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    Default Re: In Praise of Michael Heiden

    Beautiful Heiden A. I love mine as well, I pick it up in the morning sitting with my coffee and pick a couple notes and I am still astounded by he clear rounded tone that comes out of it. The tone right now is to my ears perfect but it does need new strings but I'm reluctant for the fear it won't sound as good with the new one. But then again I go through this every time and it always sounds wonderful but still ?? Isn't it wonderful to have a problem like that.
    By the way the truss rod cover, the opening is shaped very precisely and the cover has a matching insert that fits the opening. It slides into place and just stays there. Fitted so well !!!
    Dave
    Heiden A, '52 Martin D-18, Taylor 510, Carlson Custom A with Electronics

  8. #7

    Default Re: In Praise of Michael Heiden

    What # and year is yours, rockies? Any pics?

    I know what you mean about the tone. I like new strings.
    the billyhawks http://thebillyhawks.bandcamp.com

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

  9. #8
    My Florida is scooped pheffernan's Avatar
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    Default Re: In Praise of Michael Heiden

    In my best Kevin Spacey voice, "spectacular."
    1924 Gibson A Snakehead
    2005 National RM-1
    2007 Hester A5
    2009 Passernig A5
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  11. #9
    Registered User loess's Avatar
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    Default Re: In Praise of Michael Heiden

    Dang, I hadn't looked into Heiden A5s until now. Don, if you have some free time at some point to make a short recording of that instrument, I'm sure I speak for others who would love to hear the voice that goes along with those beautiful photos.
    *`.☽☆☾.*

  12. #10

    Default Re: In Praise of Michael Heiden

    Re. the truss-rod cover, Michael once told me that if the TRC ever were to become loose, with a lot of use/abuse or whatever, then a person could simply put a light layer of superglue along the edges of the TRC, letting the superglue dry, which would build-up the edges just enough so that it would fit perfectly once more. Michael Heiden is like that with regard to his precise mandolin detailing--his detailing is flat-out precise (as close to perfection as a person could possibly be, or so it seems to me). In answer to my question, he said the TRC was his innovation.

    Don Grieser: I had the opportunity to play your instrument early this summer/spring (prior to your buying it), playing yours alongside my own Heiden Engelmann A (#A60). Having an Engelmann top, mine sounded warmer and more complex than yours (mine not as loud as yours, with less pop and presence than yours has). Over the summer I could not get the terrific tone and presence of your instrument out of my head, so in August I purchased the blackface "Heritage" (Ancient Red Spruce with old Maple, #A50, 2009) that Michael had in-stock at the time. The darn Heritage blackface easily surpassed my highest expectations, and it sounds a WHOLE LOT like your instrument (#A54). Yours will remain in my memory clearly as one of best mandolins that I will ever hear or play.

    At any rate, I am totally smitten by both of my Heiden A's--very different from each other, but both simply incredible in their tonal qualities, with over-the-top exquisite detailing. Playability of both is unmatched by any mandolin that I have ever played. Ever.

    I will try to get some photos of mine when the sun returns, and will post them here then.

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  14. #11

    Default Re: In Praise of Michael Heiden

    Potosimando: what a cool story. Thanks! After I got #54 I saw that blackface on Michael's site and was very tempted to get another one. #54 certainly has my full attention these days.

    loess: here's a youtube video of my playing it about a month ago or more. It's just the cheap Kodak video camera mic.

    the billyhawks http://thebillyhawks.bandcamp.com

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

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  16. #12
    F5G & MD305 Astro's Avatar
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    Default Re: In Praise of Michael Heiden

    Sounds awesome !
    No matter where I go, there I am...Unless I'm running a little late.

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    I may be old but I'm ugly billhay4's Avatar
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    Default Re: In Praise of Michael Heiden

    Michael is a superb builder and a classy guy. Congrats on a great instrument.
    Bill
    IM(NS)HO

  18. #14
    Registered User Mark Seale's Avatar
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    Default Re: In Praise of Michael Heiden

    Quote Originally Posted by Don Grieser View Post
    ... I've never owned a more responsive mandolin with such clarity of tone...
    Knowing some of the instruments on your catch and release program, that is EXTREMELY high praise. A beautiful instrument to be sure.

  19. #15
    Registered User rockies's Avatar
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    Default Re: In Praise of Michael Heiden

    Don, mine was made in 2008, I got it when Michael moved to Creston BC about 1-1/2 hours down the road from me. It's number is A-41. It has a highly figured Sitka top and a slab cut maple back. The volume is loud and the tone is that woody tone with clear notes on all strings right up to where the frets end. I can't wait to pick it up in the morning and several times during the day. Between it and my beat up '52 D-18 there's not much day left. Isn't retirement wonderful ?
    Dave
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    Heiden A, '52 Martin D-18, Taylor 510, Carlson Custom A with Electronics

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  21. #16
    Registered User rockies's Avatar
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    Default Re: In Praise of Michael Heiden

    Don, I should add that right after that photo I had Michael install one of his small ebony pickguards, and I also made a matching ebony arm rest for it. I guess I should get around to taking some up to date photos soon if for nothing else for insurance purposes.
    Dave
    Heiden A, '52 Martin D-18, Taylor 510, Carlson Custom A with Electronics

  22. #17
    Purveyor of Sunshine sgarrity's Avatar
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    Default Re: In Praise of Michael Heiden

    My A5 and mandola. Both Engelmann and Red Maple. Of all the mandolins I've had through here this Heiden A5 has stood the test of time and been my all time favorite.
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    Default Re: In Praise of Michael Heiden

    Beautiful! More pics and sound clips of Heidens please, how about some of his F style mandolins! Thanks

  25. #19

    Default Re: In Praise of Michael Heiden

    I think Heiden Mandos don't get talked about all that much for the same reason Dudenbostel mandos don't get talked about that much. Most know they are top notch, both are arguably one of the 5 best made, but at $15-20K are out of the range of 90% of people on here.

    OP- Gorgeous mando! It sounds nice too. Very woody and warm.
    Last edited by SCIFIDELITY; Nov-11-2014 at 12:51am.

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  27. #20

    Default Re: In Praise of Michael Heiden

    Dave, retirement sounds wonderful. Just a few years away for me. Your Heiden looks a lot like mine.

    Shaun, you're the one that got me started thinking about Heidens. Love the matched pair.
    the billyhawks http://thebillyhawks.bandcamp.com

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

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  29. #21
    Registered User loess's Avatar
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    Default Re: In Praise of Michael Heiden

    That'll do, Don! Superb playing too...thank you for the eye and ear candy
    *`.☽☆☾.*

  30. #22
    Henry Lawton hank's Avatar
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    Default Re: In Praise of Michael Heiden

    Thanks for sharing Don. This thread takes me back to 2003 when I spent hours listening to Ken Cartwright's Mandolin Tasting, 2003 Wintergrass CD. My wife was amazed(worried)that I could stay so focused listening to all those mandolins playing the same short samples over and over again. Long story short as you may have guessed who's tone I kept returning to. These days I guess I'm not as concerned with tone as much as then but playing a Heiden has always remained at the top of my bucket list. The way you describe playing your Heiden you push my favorite buttons these days response and playability.
    "A sudden clash of thunder, the mind doors burst open, and lo, there sits old man Buddha-nature in all his homeliness."
    CHAO-PIEN

  31. #23
    Registered User Glassweb's Avatar
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    Default Re: In Praise of Michael Heiden

    i took a trip from Bellingham to Michael's place in Creston B.C. this summer and was lucky enough to test drive 8 of his beautiful creations, both new and old. VERY impressive work from a very impressive gentleman... Michael is truly a legend in BC... a larger than life guy who makes some of the best mandolins i've ever played. superb instruments in every way...

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  33. #24
    Purveyor of Sunshine sgarrity's Avatar
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    Default Re: In Praise of Michael Heiden

    Here's a few tunes on the mandola.




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  35. #25

    Default Re: In Praise of Michael Heiden

    Love that mandola, Shaun. One of each of the mando family from Michael would be an amazing thing to hear.

    Here's #A36. I bought this one after getting #A54. I really liked everything about it but the neck profile. I have some left hand issues and #A54 worked for my left hand much better than #A36. So it now belongs to Luke from The Bombadils who is thrilled with it. The dot markers in the fretboard were the most brilliant blue green. Just an extra nice touch to an incredible mandolin.
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    Here's a little sample of its tone. I put this up so Luke could hear it before he bought it.

    the billyhawks http://thebillyhawks.bandcamp.com

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

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