Results 1 to 19 of 19

Thread: Out of the mainstream

  1. #1

    Default Out of the mainstream

    It was suggested I start a fresh thread mirroring my Silverangel thread but in a more general sense. I'm interested in how those of you playing lessor known, or even well known luthier built mandolins arrived at playing your particular mandolins.

    Now I've already stated I bought my Silverangel used for pretty much economic reasons. It seemed prudent at the time, but was really dumb luck I enjoy it so much.

    Did you see your mandolin by a guy you've never heard of hanging up is a little shop in the middle of nowhere? Being played at a jam? Built by a guy selling all his mandolins on the local Craigslist?

    I'd love to hear from builders on what it's like overcoming relative anonymity. It must be a challenge to sell, and the buyers to buy, given the Gibson or Collings provenance in the marketplace. Were you helped along the way by musicians liking your instruments? How important would it be for Sierra Hull to be playing your mandolin?
    Silverangel A
    Michael Kelly LSFTB
    Arches F style kit
    1913 Gibson A-1

  2. The following members say thank you to Br1ck for this post:


  3. #2
    Mangler of Tunes OneChordTrick's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    Oxfordshire, England
    Posts
    634

    Default Re: Out of the mainstream

    Hope this is what you wanted...

    I play a Paul Hathway mandolin. At the start of last year I went looking for a new mandolin fully expecting to buy an Eastman or an Ashbury. In one store there was a second hand Hathway hanging on the wall. It had octave strings so not how I would have set it up but when I played it the instrument sang to me. I slept on it for a few days returned and played them back to back; fortunately the Eastman dealer was 50 yards from where the Hathway was so I could do as close to a back to back test as was possible.

    Kept coming back to the Hathway and brought it home.

  4. #3
    Registered User Willem's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2018
    Location
    Eugene, OR
    Posts
    126

    Default Re: Out of the mainstream

    My main mandolin is a Howard Morris A5. Pretty early on I figured out that I wouldn't stay satisfied long with the mass produced Pac- Rim instruments and began researching affordable luthier built mandolins. There is no lack of information available on this site and Morris came up frequently. The final deciding point for me was that Howard is here in Oregon and he was more that receptive to having me visit and test drive the instruments he had on hand. The initial plan was to have an F5 custom built, but I fell in love with an Engellman topped A5 and took it home. The mandolin is a beast; loud, cuts through jams nicely, on the warmer side with great low end, just a great locally built mandolin. I have another A5 currently being built by Matt Ruhland due to be finished around June. Both local builders have provided top notch experiences thus far. I will be keeping the Morris upon receipt of the Ruhland and am confident that I won't be looking for new mandolins for a long long time. I will say that Howard has remained relatively anonymous because he prefers it that way.
    Soon to be Ruhland #41
    Morris #393
    Kentucky 300e
    Various other stringed and percussion tools

  5. The following members say thank you to Willem for this post:


  6. #4
    Registered User Mandobart's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Washington State
    Posts
    2,884

    Default Re: Out of the mainstream

    I met Howard "Sonny" Morris at a monthly old time fiddlers jam (he lives about an hour down the Columbia river from me). A lot of people around here play a Morris, so I got to try several. They're all good to great. And Sonny is a real good guy as well. So I had him build a hybrid F4 with a WRC top and big leaf Maple back, sides and neck for me. Cocobolo fretboard and points. Its a great playing, great sounding mandolin.

    I ran across Tom TJ Jessen when I was searching for an octave mandolin kit. He had a finished F4 OM that he had built. We called and emailed and it just seemed like a great instrument. WRC top, maple everything else. It is an awesome instrument and probably my all-around favorite. I've played Weber OM's that sounded as good but cost 3 times more. I've since bought four more instruments by TJ, two total custom one-of-a-kind-you'll-never-see-another-like-it deals.

  7. The following members say thank you to Mandobart for this post:


  8. #5
    Registered User John Bertotti's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    SD
    Posts
    2,562

    Default Re: Out of the mainstream

    I was on this site years ago. Oldwave is one here also and he posted some pictures of a few he was working on. I listened to some clips and liked the style of build he did so I ordered one form him. He sent me pictures of different woods he had to use. I sent some of my wants and picked the woods I liked the looks of. I sent him my Orrico tailpiece, asked him to get Blohm to inlay the tuner knobs and picked an inlay for the headstock. He worked with me completely send some progress pics and really teased when he sent a pick in the white strung up for final tweaking. Good experience and it sounds great.
    My avatar is of my OldWave Oval A

    Creativity is just doing something wierd and finding out others like it.

  9. #6
    My Florida is scooped pheffernan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Fort Lauderdale, FL
    Posts
    2,643

    Default Re: Out of the mainstream

    Quote Originally Posted by Br1ck View Post
    It was suggested I start a fresh thread mirroring my Silverangel thread but in a more general sense. I'm interested in how those of you playing lessor known, or even well known luthier built mandolins arrived at playing your particular mandolins. Now I've already stated I bought my Silverangel used for pretty much economic reasons. It seemed prudent at the time, but was really dumb luck I enjoy it so much.
    The mandolin market is a funny thing. There is security in buying an established brand, whether it be a Gibson or a Gilchrist, and that confidence costs money. Thus, there is opportunity to find value in builders less established for whatever reason.

    My first experience of such a mandolin was my Hester A5 that I bought nearly five years ago, the red spruce topped tribute to the Mrs. Griffith Loar detailed here:

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/t...e-loar-a5-pair

    I had read Gailís posts in the builders section and was impressed by the depth of her knowledge and her passion; plus, I found her attempt to honor #74003 somewhat unique and entirely cool. Gail has only finished a few dozen instruments, between her repair work and her attention to detail, but they have received strong praise from some knowledgeable folk, including Darryl Wolfe, Alan Bibey, Adam Steffey, and Jesse Brock. I am of the understanding that Gail could be moving her instruments through George Gruhn, as Paul Newson and Wes Wienman have, and I have often wondered what a celebrity endorsement, like a Sierra Hull, would do for Gailís reputation. Perhaps it would do for her what Sarah Jarosz has done for Fletcher Brock GBOMs. If you are interested, I have created a social group for fans of Gailís work here:

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/g...hp?groupid=304
    1924 Gibson A Snakehead
    2005 National RM-1
    2007 Hester A5
    2009 Passernig A5
    2015 Black A2-z
    2010 Black GBOM
    2017 Poe Scout
    2011 Passernig F5

  10. The Following 3 Users Say Thank You to pheffernan For This Useful Post:


  11. #7
    My Florida is scooped pheffernan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Fort Lauderdale, FL
    Posts
    2,643

    Default Re: Out of the mainstream

    My second experience of this phenomenon was my A5 (#54) from Stefan Passernig. At this point, I had owned a Collings MT that I adored for its playability, although I found its voice a bit bright for solo play. At the same time, I owned an early Pava that I enjoyed for its more complex tone, but I found its neck a tad full in the shoulders for my taste. Serendipitously, I happened upon another Austin builder in Stefan who had actually worked at Collings. Much like the character of Willie Mays Hayes from the movie Major League ó I hit like Mays, and I run like Hayes ó the Passernig feels like the Collings but sounds like the Pava, only more open and responsive. Plus, it has maple binding, varnish finish, and other bits we both admire. It may not be my best mandolin objectively, but it is my favorite subjectively, so much so that I deliberately chose a used Passernig when buying my first F5. Now granted, $7500 is not cheap for a new mandolin:

    https://reverb.com/item/4850656-pass...emona-sunburst

    However, I still think that it offers tremendous value compared to a Collings:

    https://reverb.com/item/11910441-col...ames-tailpiece

    And I suspect that much of the reason is that Stefan flies consistently under the radar, only makes a dozen instruments a year, maintains no web presence, and takes no custom orders. Yet despite that fact, his mandolins have been owned and played by such luminaries as David Grisman and Doyle Lawson, and I think that they consistently punch above their weight. If you are interested, I created a social group dedicated to Stefanís work here:

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/g...hp?groupid=295
    1924 Gibson A Snakehead
    2005 National RM-1
    2007 Hester A5
    2009 Passernig A5
    2015 Black A2-z
    2010 Black GBOM
    2017 Poe Scout
    2011 Passernig F5

  12. The Following 3 Users Say Thank You to pheffernan For This Useful Post:


  13. #8
    My Florida is scooped pheffernan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Fort Lauderdale, FL
    Posts
    2,643

    Default Re: Out of the mainstream

    My third such experience involved my first ever custom build from Mike Black. If you read through the archives here, you will often find Mike actively participating, geeking out over the details of the vintage instruments that inspire him. And though such instruments are still widely available, Mike gives you the opportunity to secure one in mint condition for less:

    http://blackmandolins.com/a2z-mandolins.html

    You can also order it however you like, with modern playability features such as a radiused board and EVO frets, and even in a form that would not otherwise exist in nature, such as a true blackface A2-z:

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/t...6-Black-Friday

    You can even find out what a Virzi does to a transverse braved oval for a fraction of the cost of a similarly equipped old Gibson:



    I was so impressed with the quality of Mike’s work that, when I found myself wanting to try my hand at an octave, I pounced on an early Black GBOM that my buddy Gary made available:

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/t.../64969-Black-6

    To me, these instruments offer great value because you are not paying the cost of brand recognition or celebrity endorsement.

    There is a social group dedicated to Mike’s work here:

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/g...hp?groupid=301
    Last edited by pheffernan; Apr-20-2019 at 2:35pm.
    1924 Gibson A Snakehead
    2005 National RM-1
    2007 Hester A5
    2009 Passernig A5
    2015 Black A2-z
    2010 Black GBOM
    2017 Poe Scout
    2011 Passernig F5

  14. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to pheffernan For This Useful Post:


  15. #9
    My Florida is scooped pheffernan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Fort Lauderdale, FL
    Posts
    2,643

    Default Re: Out of the mainstream

    My final huzzah goes to Andy Poe, from whom I commissioned my Scout mandolin a couple of years ago:

    https://www.poestrings.net/home

    Now I believe that flattops in general provide great value, having started on a Mid-Missouri, and like you, I think that the old Flatiron pancakes sound particularly good. I didn’t love the flat board or tiny frets, though, and so I worked my way through a Gypsy Vagabond and a pair of Redline Travelers looking for the perfect fit. Around that time, my buddy picked up a used Scout from Andy that he wouldn’t stop raving about, and then I saw cayuga red’s ebony model:

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/t...macassar-ebony

    More importantly, I heard it:



    That sound clip got me off the ledge and on the waiting list. My request of Andy was a tribute to the original Gibson Alrite, combining vintage aesthetics with modern playability:

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/t...te-Tribute#top

    And while I paid full freight for a new instrument, I ended up with a custom design from a meticulous craftsman working with the highest quality materials for less than you or I spent on a used Silverangel. More importantly, I haven’t felt the urge to buy a flattop in the two years since it arrived.

    Andy also has a dedicated social group found here:

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/group.php?groupid=35
    1924 Gibson A Snakehead
    2005 National RM-1
    2007 Hester A5
    2009 Passernig A5
    2015 Black A2-z
    2010 Black GBOM
    2017 Poe Scout
    2011 Passernig F5

  16. The Following 4 Users Say Thank You to pheffernan For This Useful Post:


  17. #10
    Dan Brooks lflngpicker's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    So Cal
    Posts
    1,572
    Blog Entries
    6

    Default Re: Out of the mainstream

    Great write ups for these builders, Pat. I enjoyed reading and listening. Thanks! Dan

  18. The following members say thank you to lflngpicker for this post:


  19. #11
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Gainesville, FL
    Posts
    2,359

    Default Re: Out of the mainstream

    I play a Randy Wood F5. Used to have a Kentucky 1000 F model. A friend of mine told me that the Kentucky was nice but not a great mandolin. He said, "call Randy Wood and have him make you one", so after talking with my wife, I called Randy. He finished it in 1993 and we went to his shop to pick it up sight unseen. I have had not the first regret in the subsequent 16 years.

  20. The following members say thank you to Denny Gies for this post:


  21. #12
    Dan Brooks lflngpicker's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    So Cal
    Posts
    1,572
    Blog Entries
    6

    Default Re: Out of the mainstream

    Denny, It sounds like you are very happy with your Randy Wood. What a cool story-- makes that a 26 year old gem.

  22. #13

    Default Re: Out of the mainstream

    I'll second everything Pat said about the Passernig mandolins. I enjoy my Passernig A5. Way better than the price.
    the billyhawks http://thebillyhawks.bandcamp.com

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

  23. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to Don Grieser For This Useful Post:


  24. #14
    Registered User Eric F.'s Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    Illinois
    Posts
    2,161

    Default Re: Out of the mainstream

    In 2004 Chris Baird was just starting to get some positive notice on this board. Ken Cartwright and a couple of other people whose opinions I respected spoke highly of his work, so I took the plunge and ordered an Arches A-5. I got it the next spring and still love it. It has everything I want in an f-hole mandolin, and only a couple of much more expensive instruments have tempted me since I got it.

    About two years later Brian Dean was just starting to attract some attention, too. I wanted something ancient and haunting sounding, and he did provided just that. I got lucky—I couldn't reasonably justify the price of one of his lovely instruments now.

    So that's how I ended up with two instruments from off-the-beaten-path makers. Other instruments have come and gone, but those two remain.

  25. #15

    Default Re: Out of the mainstream

    I bought an Arches kit, followed his carving instructions to the letter, and ended up with a real canon of a mandolin on the opposite sonic spectrum from my Silverangel. The Arches is bright and punchy, continues to mature, and I don't know what I was thinking putting J75s on it. If I lean over too far I have to back off because of the volume this puts out. Of course, the workmanship isn't to Chris Baird's standards.

    I guess I have two non mainstream mandolins. Big fun because no one has yet played either one when they come out to play.

    There is a Pomeroy in the classifieds that is not too far away. I'd ask to go play it, but I don't want to waste anyone's time as I wouldn't be serious. Then there is that Sorensen that haunts me.
    Silverangel A
    Michael Kelly LSFTB
    Arches F style kit
    1913 Gibson A-1

  26. #16
    I really look like that soliver's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2015
    Location
    Marietta, GA
    Posts
    1,170

    Default Re: Out of the mainstream

    Like I stated in your other thread, Br1ck, I too play a Silverangel. I had to work to save up for my first, an Eastman and played it til I could recognize that I wanted more, so I tried a Collings, which I knew I couldn't afford and was leaning toward the idea of an SA, so I put it out on the forum asking if anyone local to me had one they would let try. I was subsequently able to meet OldSausage (aka David Mold) and try out his. ... I loved it so much that I decided I would have it replicated... my want for an SA was only verified by playing a second one at Carters during a visit to Nashville... So after selling many, many, many Armrests, I had enough to commission a Silverangel Econo A from Ken... (by the way, just so I'm not speaking in code, I'm referring to Ken Ratcliff, the man who builds Mandolins under the name "Silverangel"... just FYI). It has a Western Red Cedar top and one piece Maple back which gives it a very deep and dark tone that is just lovely. I just recently started using a Blue Chip CT55 on it which is very very different from the TAD 60 I was using on it. It actually brightens it up a little an creates a wonderful tone IMO. I received it in September and it is really really maturing nicely!

    I also have an Oval Hole Nautilus Mandolin by Marty Jacobson. It was given to me by Marty as we have had a couple of opportunities to hang out together and he is just a stand up and giving person. The mando was one of his prototypes for the Nautilus series and has some imperfections but is very cool. It has a very very different sound from the SA and I am still learning its ins and outs. I'm looking forward to having more time with this instrument and to having more opportunities to hang out with Marty.

    So I guess I've got 2 too!
    aka: Spencer
    Silverangel Econo A #429
    Jacobson Nautilus Oval Hole Prototype

    Hand Crafted Mandolin Armrests
    Check them out here

    "You can never cross the ocean unless you have the courage
    to lose sight of the shore, ...and also a boat with no holes in it.Ē
    -anonymous

  27. #17

    Default Re: Out of the mainstream

    While I don't have extensive experience with the variety of mandolins and builders out there, I really did due diligence on line after seeing a classified for a Silverangel #358 here. After reading the posts, You Tube videos, Ken Ratcliff's website all praising Ken's craftsmanship, I felt karma was calling me to contact the owner/seller who happened to live locally near me. The Silverangel in the pictures was authentically vintage looking. The angel hand painted on the back along with scrolled carving was beautiful. I knew when i heard The Silverangel's voice that I would have to search and audition for a long time to find something that could match it's volume, warmth and bright high end. This was what I always imagined and heard that quality a mandolin should sound like. Well, that said I recently bought Silverangel #358 and not only bought a fine instrument, but also met a fine local player and mandolin enthusiast in the bargain.Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Silverangel 2.jpg 
Views:	9 
Size:	912.1 KB 
ID:	176381

  28. #18
    Registered User sblock's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Redwood City, CA
    Posts
    1,962

    Default Re: Out of the mainstream

    One under-appreciated luthier is Don Paine, based in Glenwood Springs, Colorado, who is responsible for Pomeroy mandolins. His instruments are loud, well-balanced, and nicely built -- and simply terrific values for the prices they command. See the beautiful hummingbird & flowers inlay in my avatar to the left, found on Pomeroy #8. He's up to number 250+ now.

  29. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to sblock For This Useful Post:


  30. #19
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Sep 2017
    Location
    Colorado
    Posts
    67

    Default Re: Out of the mainstream

    Thanks for reminding me about him, sblock. I’m going to look him up. Thinking about upgrading from my Eastman, and it would be cool to have a “native Coloradan” mandolin.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •