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Thread: Silverangel praise

  1. #1

    Default Silverangel praise

    After my recent string fiasco with my Arches, where I manufactured a setup issue when it was only dead strings, I put a fresh set of J 74s on my Silverangel. Played it all day and came to a renewed understanding of just how good it was. Bought used from the Cafe classifieds for $1400, it can hang with anything out there I've played. Now my experience is limited to the main brands, which got me wondering how many wonderful mandolins are out there. You see sub $4k f styles out there all the time in the classifieds. Can't try any of them. Had it not been for my cheapness, I'd never know what I was missing. What obscure mandolins are you playing you feel the same way about?

    I know of one guy in the SF Bay Area that builds a few each year and sells them on Craig's List. No one outside the area would know who he was. There must be quite a few like him scattered around the country. Two or three sell on the Cafe. Shame you can't try them all.

    What a wonderful thing Ken is doing, sending his instruments out gratis for a trial test run.
    Silverangel A
    Michael Kelly LSFTB
    Arches F style kit
    1913 Gibson A-1

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  3. #2

    Default Re: Silverangel praise

    I knew of a woman in central Pennsylvania who would refurbish old mandolins, they sounded so much better than most of the store-bought ones you could get for a comparable price

  4. #3

    Default Re: Silverangel praise

    I have never seen a Silver Angel mandolin in person, but every time I see someone commenting on them they always have nothing but great things to say.
    Loar LM-370

  5. #4

    Default Re: Silverangel praise

    That and several more. When you get to some of the praised mandolins of the White, Sorensen, Apitius, Ruhland ilk, chances of laying a hand on one are slim. We can talk about them, but is there a Sorensen at Carters, Gruhn, Elderly, or Fiddler's Green?

    We need a traveling mandolin sampler. Could you imagine?

    But I keep telling myself over and over, learn to play, learn to play, learn to play....
    Silverangel A
    Michael Kelly LSFTB
    Arches F style kit
    1913 Gibson A-1

  6. #5
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    Default Re: Silverangel praise

    Quote Originally Posted by Br1ck View Post
    After my recent string fiasco with my Arches, where I manufactured a setup issue when it was only dead strings, I put a fresh set of J 74s on my Silverangel. Played it all day and came to a renewed understanding of just how good it was. Bought used from the Cafe classifieds for $1400, it can hang with anything out there I've played. Now my experience is limited to the main brands, which got me wondering how many wonderful mandolins are out there. You see sub $4k f styles out there all the time in the classifieds. Can't try any of them. Had it not been for my cheapness, I'd never know what I was missing. What obscure mandolins are you playing you feel the same way about?

    I know of one guy in the SF Bay Area that builds a few each year and sells them on Craig's List. No one outside the area would know who he was. There must be quite a few like him scattered around the country. Two or three sell on the Cafe. Shame you can't try them all.

    What a wonderful thing Ken is doing, sending his instruments out gratis for a trial test run.
    Do you mean to articulate a difference between this "Ken" guy and other builders. Are you implying something that would be made more clear by just telling us the back story? Or is everyone on this board absolutely sure who "Ken" is? Am I the only one wondering what you just alluded to? Not trying to bust your set, just that you collector types speak as though everyone else on here knows exactly what you're hinting at. But I assure you, I have no idea. If you would please clarify for an ignoramus like myself. thanks Br1ck. Blessings

  7. #6
    Registered User almeriastrings's Avatar
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    Default Re: Silverangel praise

    Quote Originally Posted by RustyMadd View Post
    Or is everyone on this board absolutely sure who "Ken" is? Am I the only one wondering what you just alluded to?
    Well... you joined in 2013, and there have been innumerable references to "Ken" (Ratcliff) in the years since, so many that I'd almost defy anyone to count - so I am guessing that yes, most would know. If you don't, he's a very fine builder of a rather interesting mandolin with a very distinctive sonic signature.
    Gibson F5 'Harvey' Fern, Gibson F5 'Derrington' Fern
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  9. #7
    Mandolin user MontanaMatt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Silverangel praise

    Quote Originally Posted by almeriastrings View Post
    Well... you joined in 2013, and there have been innumerable references to "Ken" (Ratcliff) in the years since, so many that I'd almost defy anyone to count - so I am guessing that yes, most would know. If you don't, he's a very fine builder of a rather interesting mandolin with a very distinctive sonic signature.
    And very distinctive looks(shape, inlay, carvings, paintings, stains, bridges, and other funkynesses!)
    2007 Weber Custom Elite "old wood"
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  10. #8

    Default Re: Silverangel praise

    And he’s a ‘straightahead’ guy to deal with - I just ordered my first good mandolin from him and now I have to wait.
    I can use the time to practice on my cheap pressed-top mando.

    Is it done yet?

    Now?

    Steven

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  12. #9
    I really look like that soliver's Avatar
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    Default Re: Silverangel praise

    I am a big fan of SA. I had my Econo A custom made this last Sept. It is a great machine!

    J74's and a CT55 do it a lot of good!
    aka: Spencer
    Silverangel Econo A #429
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  14. #10
    Mando Training Wheels kegcrowe's Avatar
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    Default Re: Silverangel praise

    Quote Originally Posted by RustyMadd View Post
    you collector types speak as though everyone else on here knows exactly what you're hinting at. But I assure you, I have no idea. If you would please clarify
    I'm the newest of newbies, proud owner of 1 rogue, 1 Walmart mandolin on clearance, and 1 Morris Flattop (who is Howard Morris in Oregon). I am definitely not a collector, but even I know about Silverangel mandolins. I found him quite easily in a google search when I was toying with the idea of learning mandolin (which was 2 months ago and before I even knew about mandolin cafe). None of us know everything about everything, so I always expect to be ignorant of something.

    P.S. I love reading the back stories

  15. #11
    Fingers of Concrete ccravens's Avatar
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    Default Re: Silverangel praise

    Quote Originally Posted by RustyMadd View Post
    Not trying to bust your set, just that you collector types speak as though everyone else on here knows exactly what you're hinting at. But I assure you, I have no idea. If you would please clarify for an ignoramus like myself. thanks Br1ck. Blessings
    Why would you assume that the poster is a mere "collector type" who does not actually play his instruments?

    And why would you think that sarcastic smarkiness would be a good way to get your question answered?
    Chris Cravens

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  16. #12
    Registered User Jim DeSalvio's Avatar
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    Default Re: Silverangel praise

    Here is a link to Ken's website:

    http://silverangelmandolins.com/SM/

    I have one of his "Econo A Styles" and it is killer.
    Jim D

  17. #13

    Default Re: Silverangel praise

    I have a silverangel, just the low end one with no bindings and a redwood top. My other two are a ‘24 Gibson A-2 and an 82 Anderson F-5. They’re all different but the silverangel is a much, much better instrument than the $1100 piece tag. Great tone, great chop, really nicely made. I love playing it.

  18. #14
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    Default Re: Silverangel praise

    I have long been a fan. I own two of them. I think Ken Ratcliff's mandolins are a real bargain and are pro quality instruments. More importantly, after having one of his mandolins for over 17 years and living close enough to him to have him do all my work on it, I have nothing but good things to say about dealing with him as a person. Having built over 400 mandolins now, Ken is as knowledgeable as anyone in the business.

    His mandolins probably aren't everyone's cup of tea and I appreciate that. I think the sound of them trends toward being dark and big across the frequency spectrum as Ken intentionally doesn't go for the modern sound (what I think of being "scooped" on an EQ) of a Collings or similar. I like that SA sound myself, especially compared to others through a mic and PA.
    Scott Rucker
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    Silverangel F5
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  20. #15
    Mandolin user MontanaMatt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Silverangel praise

    TD, I have been pondering the terminology for describing the SA sound, particularly in the Mando Monday #172 w/Jack Pearson. I heard a Ruhland mando with a similar sound. To me it has a rich, almost rubberbandy, tubby sound to the bass. I have yet to personally play a SA, but look forward to that day

    How would the SA owners describe the sound?
    For the builders, what structural differences control that response?, the instant fat bass thunk...
    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

  21. #16

    Default Re: Silverangel praise

    Quote Originally Posted by RustyMadd View Post
    Do you mean to articulate a difference between this "Ken" guy and other builders. Are you implying something that would be made more clear by just telling us the back story? Or is everyone on this board absolutely sure who "Ken" is? Am I the only one wondering what you just alluded to? Not trying to bust your set, just that you collector types speak as though everyone else on here knows exactly what you're hinting at. But I assure you, I have no idea. If you would please clarify for an ignoramus like myself. thanks Br1ck. Blessings
    Yes, Ken Ratcliff, builder of Silverangels. As to being a collector, I've owned exactly four mandolins of which I have three. Just goes to my original premise that there are many builders flying under the radar, much less known than Mr. Ratcliff, and most will never play their instruments. When I have taken my SA into stores, I've found it to be the equal of Pava, Collings, Northridge, Weber, and Girouard. Now any one person might very well like any of those the best for any of a number of reasons, but we're in the same quality ballpark. I'm sure there are dozens more if I could try them.

    But interestingly enough, nothing to me chops like a Gibson. If there is something out there for a lot less money that chops like that, I'd like to know. My SA comes close. Too many mandolins, not enough money.
    Silverangel A
    Michael Kelly LSFTB
    Arches F style kit
    1913 Gibson A-1

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  23. #17

    Default Re: Silverangel praise

    Quote Originally Posted by stevo58 View Post
    And he’s a ‘straightahead’ guy to deal with - I just ordered my first good mandolin from him and now I have to wait.
    I can use the time to practice on my cheap pressed-top mando.

    Is it done yet?

    Now?

    Steven
    Pressed top to SA? You are going to be very happy.
    Silverangel A
    Michael Kelly LSFTB
    Arches F style kit
    1913 Gibson A-1

  24. #18

    Default Re: Silverangel praise

    Quote Originally Posted by MontanaMatt View Post
    TD, I have been pondering the terminology for describing the SA sound, particularly in the Mando Monday #172 w/Jack Pearson. I heard a Ruhland mando with a similar sound. To me it has a rich, almost rubberbandy, tubby sound to the bass. I have yet to personally play a SA, but look forward to that day

    How would the SA owners describe the sound?
    For the builders, what structural differences control that response?, the instant fat bass thunk...
    I'll try.first of all, many SAs are built with redwood tops. Old redwood tops. Secondly, the front and back arches are more pronounced. Many but not all are cross braced. His bridge saddle is angled back to counteract string force. The neck is on the slim side akin to a Collings. His feeling is that most mandolins suffer from a lack of bass. His do not, hence the chop has girth, but with more resonance than a Gibson. But if you listen for a lack of treble, you won't find it. You can certainly find brighter mandolins, pretty much anything.

    The one quirk is they don't fit most hard cases. Mine lives, barely, in a Travelite. I also had to bend a sound guard to fit the back arch.

    The other thing is that Ken is very good and likes to relic to varying degrees his instruments. I'd say mine is mildly reliced. The finish is not worn through, but has an old patina. The binding is cracked here and there, and shrunken in places. There are scratch marks on the peg head fron 70 years if string changes, and a headstock ding or two.

    All these things make for a unique sound, but they are built in the heart of bluegrass country and are at home there.nthey shine on Celtic and fiddle tunes too.
    Silverangel A
    Michael Kelly LSFTB
    Arches F style kit
    1913 Gibson A-1

  25. #19

    Default Re: Silverangel praise

    Quote Originally Posted by Br1ck View Post
    Pressed top to SA? You are going to be very happy.
    I decided it made no sense to buy an Eastman that I would just replace in a few years.

    I’ve never played a SA, but every description I’ve read tells me this is what I’m looking for.

    Steven

  26. #20

    Default Re: Silverangel praise

    Quote Originally Posted by stevo58 View Post
    I decided it made no sense to buy an Eastman that I would just replace in a few years.

    I’ve never played a SA, but every description I’ve read tells me this is what I’m looking for.

    Steven
    You made a wise acessmant of your situation and came to the conclusion I would have recommended. Really, you would be in for the same experience with any of the "entry" level mandolins from builders such as Weber, Collings, Northfield or Pava. That you are saving hundreds buying a Silverangel is icing on the cake. All of the above will have a richer low end and fuller tone. Farther up the food chain you pay more and more for less and less. Yes, you will maybe want a scroll , triple binding, or inlay some day, but you will already have 90% of the tone you'll ever get.
    Silverangel A
    Michael Kelly LSFTB
    Arches F style kit
    1913 Gibson A-1

  27. #21

    Default Re: Silverangel praise

    Quote Originally Posted by Br1ck View Post
    You made a wise acessmant of your situation and came to the conclusion I would have recommended. Really, you would be in for the same experience with any of the "entry" level mandolins from builders such as Weber, Collings, Northfield or Pava. That you are saving hundreds buying a Silverangel is icing on the cake. All of the above will have a richer low end and fuller tone. Farther up the food chain you pay more and more for less and less. Yes, you will maybe want a scroll , triple binding, or inlay some day, but you will already have 90% of the tone you'll ever get.
    You know, when I decided it was time to upgrade, I looked at all the usual suspects (in Europe we don't have the choices you have in the US). Basically it came down to Loar, Eastman, then a few places had a Gibson or maybe a Weber. So it was going to be Eastman. I was reading some of the "what should I buy?" threads, and one had a link to a couple SAs in the classifieds, used but from Ken. Reading those ads, I realized you don't have to go far up the Eastman food chain to be in spitting distance of something really good, so I contacted Ken, but those mandos were already gone (of course). But he made me an offer I couldn't refuse. So I didn't.

    This will most likely be my one and only. Retiring in a couple years, not a professional (though I do play out regularly) - this should do me for a long time. And when I look at my guitars, I don't seem to like a lot of bling, so I think I can resist the siren call.

    Steven

  28. #22
    Registered User Mike Scott's Avatar
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    Default Re: Silverangel praise

    I’ve owned (still own 1) 3 totally different SAs. As Brlck describes the pronounced arch to top and back, only one was in that mode and it had the darkest tone of the three. The F5 I currently own was “born” 1/31/17 and is an exceptional mandolin. I believe it is X braced, has a pretty standard arch, and the tone is not as dark as the one with the bigger arch. It has a 100+ year old red spruce top and very old maple back, sides and neck. Has the SA tone. I’m not much of a player, but to me, this is a lifetime mandolin for me.

    In my dealings with Ken, I have found him to be very responsive, forthcoming and extremely honest. His kind of new thing is to send out some mandolins for a trial with no $$$ up front. That speaks volume about the kind of guy he is too.

    Just my opinion. YMMV.
    Thanks!
    Mike

    “What me worry!” Alfred E Newman

    2017 Silverangel F5
    2018 Big Muddy

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  30. #23

    Default Re: Silverangel praise

    I think a red spruce f style would be a great compliment to my redwood topped A, but for now I'm going to concentrate on my playing, and my Arches continues to improve.

    Mike, is your f distressed?
    Silverangel A
    Michael Kelly LSFTB
    Arches F style kit
    1913 Gibson A-1

  31. #24
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    Default Re: Silverangel praise

    <violates forum posting guidelines>
    Last edited by Mandolin Cafe; Apr-17-2019 at 6:52pm.

  32. #25
    Registered User Mike Scott's Avatar
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    Default Re: Silverangel praise

    Brlck, mine was made to resemble an old mandolin that was well taken care of. So kind of very mildly distressed which I like. I’ve not seen a max distressed SA in person. And yes, it appears you are well set up with mandolins-at least for now
    Last edited by Mike Scott; Apr-17-2019 at 12:56pm. Reason: Additional info
    Thanks!
    Mike

    “What me worry!” Alfred E Newman

    2017 Silverangel F5
    2018 Big Muddy

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