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Thread: A nod to Ratliff Mandolins

  1. #1
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    Default A nod to Ratliff Mandolins

    I have always been a Gibson guy. So, when I decided to go spend the money, I bought an F9 and then later an F5G and finally a Montana made Flatiron. I loved them all. Selling that F9 was a life long regret. I have played others and they all have their place among the pantheon of greats, but paying $2,700 of an A style Collings always seemed to hurt my feelings a bit.
    Then I came across a deal on a custom Ratliff Country Boy with a radius fingerboard and a semi gloss front with a satin back. It was the exact specifications for a custom mandolin I had discussed with Audie Ratliff himself about two weeks ago so I bit the bullet and bought it. It came in today and to say I was shocked is an understatement. This thing had never been played and yet is screamed like it had haunted the stage for decades. The craftsmanship was impeccable and the play-ability is like butter. It was simply the most amazing thing I had seen in a long time. How in the world can a one man shop put out this kind of Mando for under $2,000? This country boy is no frills but what is there is gorgeous and I can only imagine what the R-5 looks and feels like. I say all that to say this. My hats off to you Mr. Ratliff. You make the best Mando I have seen under $5,000.

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    Default Re: A nod to Ratliff Mandolins

    And right down the road Ken Ratcliff will make you an Econo A. There is not one thing that fancy wood, excepting a nice piece of wood for the top, or binding, or a scroll, adds to the tonal quality of a mandolin. The Collings MT, Pava satin, and all the other stripped down mandolins are all very good.

    Ratliff and the like have developed their own efficient methods, live in low cost communities, and have no marketing and distribution costs. It has to be a business model that is conscious, perhaps evolutionary, that has allowed them to thrive. It has also removed a large segment of buyers who equate cost to quality.

    The binding and inlay, then a fine finish, easily doubles construction time. Time is money. If you haven't followed Ratliff's custom build, you should. Never have I seen a more blinged out mandolin. So the man can do it all, but building Counrty Boys pays some bills for sure and I'm glad they are out there for a grand less than an MT. Allows more folks to play fine mandolins.
    Silverangel A
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  5. #3
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    Default Re: A nod to Ratliff Mandolins

    Ratliff was on my radar a few years back when I bought my first Gibson. He has some amazing youtube videos which finely detail his work. That coupled with a good sense of humor makes his videos must watch, especially if you like seeing what goes into one. I have found that I love the F-Style and tend to lean towards minimal binding and inlay. The natural rugged look like my 2002 F9 really is what I am into. Small builders like Ratliff and Silverangel are fantastic buys!

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    Default Re: A nod to Ratliff Mandolins

    If that is the one from the classifieds, that was quite a catch. Very nice looking mandolin. Hope you enjoy it.

    Adam

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    Default Re: A nod to Ratliff Mandolins

    Quote Originally Posted by addamr View Post
    If that is the one from the classifieds, that was quite a catch. Very nice looking mandolin. Hope you enjoy it.

    Adam
    It was. What Mandolin it is. Very bright and yet it has never been played. Cheers to the small builders. They know what they are doing.

  9. #6
    Mandolin user MontanaMatt's Avatar
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    Default Re: A nod to Ratliff Mandolins

    I am constantly impressed with my Ratliff R5! I've played many top tier mandolins, and Audey make one on par with them all. I went for the extra bells n whistles, as I plan to keep my mandolins till death, and the bling makes me smile
    Give him your business, you will be glad you did.
    2007 Weber Custom Elite "old wood"
    2017 Ratliff R5 Custom #1148
    Several nice old Fiddles
    2007 Martin 000-15S 12 fret Auditorium-slot head
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  11. #7
    Registered Plec Offender Mickey King's Avatar
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    Default Re: A nod to Ratliff Mandolins

    Quote Originally Posted by Pilot172000 View Post
    I have always been a Gibson guy. So, when I decided to go spend the money, I bought an F9 and then later an F5G and finally a Montana made Flatiron. I loved them all. Selling that F9 was a life long regret. I have played others and they all have their place among the pantheon of greats, but paying $2,700 of an A style Collings always seemed to hurt my feelings a bit.
    Then I came across a deal on a custom Ratliff Country Boy with a radius fingerboard and a semi gloss front with a satin back. It was the exact specifications for a custom mandolin I had discussed with Audie Ratliff himself about two weeks ago so I bit the bullet and bought it. It came in today and to say I was shocked is an understatement. This thing had never been played and yet is screamed like it had haunted the stage for decades. The craftsmanship was impeccable and the play-ability is like butter. It was simply the most amazing thing I had seen in a long time. How in the world can a one man shop put out this kind of Mando for under $2,000? This country boy is no frills but what is there is gorgeous and I can only imagine what the R-5 looks and feels like. I say all that to say this. My hats off to you Mr. Ratliff. You make the best Mando I have seen under $5,000.
    I’m still kicking myself in the butt for not jumping on that one myself!! Thought I’d think it over and then it was gone! Luckily, made a deal locally on a Collings MT.

    Mickey King
    Last edited by Mickey King; Nov-06-2018 at 8:50am. Reason: More content

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  13. #8
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    Default Re: A nod to Ratliff Mandolins

    Quote Originally Posted by Mickey King View Post
    I’m still kicking myself in the butt for not jumping on that one myself!! Thought I’d think it over and then it was gone! Luckily, made a deal locally on a Collings MT.

    Mickey King
    It has that Gibson choppy sound, very impressed. I like it better than my Flatiron that has a warmer sound.

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    Default Re: A nod to Ratliff Mandolins

    Am I the only one who gets confused by “Ratliff” and “Ratcliff”?
    Don

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  17. #10
    Registered User Frankdolin's Avatar
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    Default Re: A nod to Ratliff Mandolins

    Quote Originally Posted by multidon View Post
    Am I the only one who gets confused by “Ratliff” and “Ratcliff”?
    No

  18. #11
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    Default Re: A nod to Ratliff Mandolins

    Quote Originally Posted by multidon View Post
    Am I the only one who gets confused by “Ratliff” and “Ratcliff”?
    I did early on. Started doing some research and now I refer to thim as Ratliff and Silverangel. Both are fantastic mandolins.

  19. #12
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    Default Re: A nod to Ratliff Mandolins

    Got a Ratliff Mandocello - that is one sweeeeet box!
    Hat's off to Audey, I like that F5 in the classifieds, but my wife just started speaking to me after the cello purchase...

  20. #13

    Default Re: A nod to Ratliff Mandolins

    Thank God Ken Ratcliff did us the favor of calling his mandolins Silverangels.While they do business in quite the same way, the mandolins are two distinct flavors.
    Silverangel A
    Michael Kelly LSFTB
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  22. #14
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    Default Re: A nod to Ratliff Mandolins

    I am blessed to currently have Audey building a country boy for myself. Cannot wait to give it some lovin'. I was drawn in by the stripped down motif, the fact that they are by an independent builder with a strong reputation, and I love the tone that I've heard from ratliffs.

    Not to mention Audey has been nothing but kind and willing to discuss anything I have inquired about, which is nice. This will be my first custom built instrument and its a great feeling to admire the builder so much and feel that friendship. He even invited me to come pick a few if I was ever in TN. Would love to see a pic of your instrument, pilot.

  23. #15

    Default Re: A nod to Ratliff Mandolins

    #1056 agrees.��
    Play it like you mean it.

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  25. #16
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    Default Re: A nod to Ratliff Mandolins

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill McCall View Post
    #1056 agrees.��
    I have 1148, it is superlative!
    Mine was made spring of 2017...when was 1056?
    2007 Weber Custom Elite "old wood"
    2017 Ratliff R5 Custom #1148
    Several nice old Fiddles
    2007 Martin 000-15S 12 fret Auditorium-slot head
    Deering Classic Open Back
    Too many microphones

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  27. #17

    Default Re: A nod to Ratliff Mandolins

    I wish I never sold my Audey Ratliff R5
    " Practice every time you get a chance." - Bill Monroe

  28. #18
    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: A nod to Ratliff Mandolins

    Audey is a gentleman and a fantastic craftsman to boot!
    Emando.com: More than you wanted to know about electric mandolins.

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  29. #19

    Default Re: A nod to Ratliff Mandolins

    Not to mention his entertaining videos.
    Silverangel A
    Michael Kelly LSFTB
    Arches F style kit
    1913 Gibson A-1

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  31. #20

    Default Re: A nod to Ratliff Mandolins

    Quote Originally Posted by MontanaMatt View Post
    I have 1148, it is superlative!
    Mine was made spring of 2017...when was 1056?
    Sorry I missed your post, I was busy playing. Anyway, it’s a 2012. I need to check my CountryBoy F, it’s real close to 1148, but it didn’t travel on vacation. Might be 1146, from old memory.
    Play it like you mean it.

  32. #21
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    Thumbs up Re: A nod to Ratliff Mandolins

    I'm now the proud owner of #1194. Its exactly what I was looking for - loud, punchy, and sweet. The satin burst is very nice looking and the overall workmanship is very solid. I've hardly put it down but to rest since i got it. Audey Ratliff is a nice guy to work with and I hope to meet him one day if I'm ever in TN.

    Click image for larger version. 

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  34. #22
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    Default Re: A nod to Ratliff Mandolins

    Congratulations Joe! What are your mando’s specs?
    2007 Weber Custom Elite "old wood"
    2017 Ratliff R5 Custom #1148
    Several nice old Fiddles
    2007 Martin 000-15S 12 fret Auditorium-slot head
    Deering Classic Open Back
    Too many microphones

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  36. #23
    Registered User Joe DiLorenzo's Avatar
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    Post Re: A nod to Ratliff Mandolins

    It’s a country boy F with a dark sunburst and some upgrades - James Tailpiece, fretboard extension, Flower headstock inlay, dot Fret inlays. I believe it’s a Sitka spruce top and maple back and sides which is standard for the CB’s. I also asked Audey to leave the neck bare wood. I prefer a bare neck like a fiddle or I also like tung oiled necks, I might put some on this mando.

  37. #24

    Default Re: A nod to Ratliff Mandolins

    Hmmm... I've been drooling over a bunch of Collings mandos for a while now. But now you've got my wheels turning on checking into Ratliffs!

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  39. #25
    Mandolin user MontanaMatt's Avatar
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    Default Re: A nod to Ratliff Mandolins

    I find it impressive that Audie has made 46 mandolins in the past 2 years...my #1148 is from May 2017.
    2007 Weber Custom Elite "old wood"
    2017 Ratliff R5 Custom #1148
    Several nice old Fiddles
    2007 Martin 000-15S 12 fret Auditorium-slot head
    Deering Classic Open Back
    Too many microphones

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