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Thread: The long, arduous journey of Silverangel #438 - with a happy end

  1. #1
    Registered User stevo58's Avatar
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    Default The long, arduous journey of Silverangel #438 - with a happy end

    I am not a mandolin player.

    I play a bit, but it’s a sideline. I play a cheap pressed-top instrument. It’s fine.

    I’ve been listening more and more to music with mandolin, and got the bug, and decided it was time to buy a good instrument. I’m in Europe, so the choices are limited if you don’t want to spend 5K off the bat, so I figured an Eastman would do it.

    Then I started hearing about Silverangel mandolins. I liked the descriptions I was reading. I listened to what I could find on YouTube. I liked what I heard.

    I am not a bluegrass player. I am more of an acoustic blues player. So I’m listening to people like Ry Cooder and Yank Rachel. The Silverangel sounded perfect to my ear for this. I’m not interested in sharp bluegrass chop.

    I saw Ken had a trade-in A model in the classifieds. I contacted him, but I was too late. However, he told me he had 5 Econo models in the white that he hadn’t put up for sale yet, and I could have first choice.

    I did a little research on the Econo models and realized the only thing I’d be losing was bling. So I ordered one.

    He finished it, put a pickup in it for me, and shipped it to Switzerland. Hot Dog!

    From Elliotville, it went to Chicago. So far, so good.

    From Chicago, it went to Dubai. Huh? Well, maybe that’s their hub.

    From Dubai, it went to Johannesburg. I was beginning to get worried.

    Then it landed in Swaziland (!). I saw no reason for this. It took me a day to figure it out.

    I checked the shipping papers Ken sent me. Switzerland, clear as day.

    I realized someone in Chicago opened the pull-down country menu and almost got it right. Swaziland is just above Switzerland, in most country pull-down menus.

    I contacted Ken. He (and his wife) spent many hours on the phone. The status finally changed to being in the Swazi export office. There it sat for 2 months. Ken and I both were, shall we say, freaking out. We couldn’t get it to move.

    Eventually we gave up. Ken offered to build me a replacement, free of charge, and I insisted on paying the hardware and shipping costs, so we would share the pain.

    Let me say here, Ken is a straight arrow, an upright guy. He didn’t have to do that. All my communication with him ran smoothly, and he really went far out on a limb for me. He has my undying respect and gratitude.

    The last I heard from him on the new mandolin was he was about to finish it.

    Then, suddenly, after 2-1/2 months, my mandolin was in Zurich.

    I was very nervous when I opened it. It’s been on four continents in a couple of months, under who knows what conditions, most likely roughly handled; how could it possibly survive that undamaged? There was a sticker from the Swiss post office saying that the box arrived damaged, so they opened to inspect for damage to the contents, but found none, so they repacked it - but I should contact them if they missed something. Would any post office other than the Swiss take the time for something like that? I doubt it.

    In any case, the mandolin survived without any damage at all - not a scratch. I tuned it up, and ... just perfect. Plays perfectly, sounds perfect, looks fabulous. Ken's wife does the varnish finishes, I believe, and this one is a beautiful sunburst. The photos don't do it justice; the flame is stronger (especially on the back), and the finish is deep and rich.

    I am a Ken fan. As long as he doesn't murder me in my sleep, I will sing his praises. He's both a first-class craftsman and a first-class human being.

    steve

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  3. #2

    Default Re: The long, arduous journey of Silverangel #438 - with a happy

    It's good to hear a story with a happy ending today!

    Not many people have such a well travelled mandolin. Looks like a keeper with a good story too.
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  4. #3
    Registered User Doug Brock's Avatar
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    Default Re: The long, arduous journey of Silverangel #438 - with a happy

    Now your Silver Angel has a cool backstory!

    Ken is building an Econo A for me and he has been amazing to work with. I'm eager to get my hands on my Silver Angel, so hopefully mine won't have a "cool backstory" like yours has!
    Doug Brock
    Silverangel Econo A #446, Eastman MD315, MD505
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    Registered User John Van Zandt's Avatar
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    Default Re: The long, arduous journey of Silverangel #438 - with a happy

    Have fun with that mandolin! It lloks great in the photos, and what a shipping nightmare.
    Kentucky KM-380

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    Mandolin user MontanaMatt's Avatar
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    Default Re: The long, arduous journey of Silverangel #438 - with a happy

    Yay! Congratulations on the new axe!
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  7. #6

    Default Re: The long, arduous journey of Silverangel #438 - with a happy

    What a story... and a happy ending, too!
    BradKlein
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    Registered User Eric F.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: The long, arduous journey of Silverangel #438 - with a happy

    Great story! Thanks for posting it.

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    MandolaViola bratsche's Avatar
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    Default Re: The long, arduous journey of Silverangel #438 - with a happy

    Wow, what a story! So glad it ended happily. (Had to look up that country - I knew it was on the African continent, but not sure exactly where.) You should nickname the mandolin "Swazi"!

    bratsche
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    Registered User stevo58's Avatar
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    Default Re: The long, arduous journey of Silverangel #438 - with a happy

    Quote Originally Posted by bratsche View Post
    You should nickname the mandolin "Swazi"!

    I live on the German border - it would be, shall we say, poor taste here. Too similar to other words.

    I'm pretty sure the guys in Swaziland wanted to finally learn what the airspeed velocity of a laden African swallow is.
    The answer seems to be 'not much.'

    Steven
    Silverangel Econo A #438
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    Default Re: The long, arduous journey of Silverangel #438 - with a happy

    A great story, with a happy ending! Enjoy!

  13. #11

    Default Re: The long, arduous journey of Silverangel #438 - with a happy

    Quote Originally Posted by stevo58 View Post
    I live on the German border - it would be, shall we say, poor taste here. Too similar to other words.

    I'm pretty sure the guys in Swaziland wanted to finally learn what the airspeed velocity of a laden African swallow is.
    The answer seems to be 'not much.'

    Steven
    Thanks so much Steve, I think you were more patient than I was. I was actually thinking about hand delivering the 2nd one. Switzerland would make a nice little vacation for Laura and I. I remember when I was 19, hitchhiking through Switzerland. I was with my friend Mike Sundquist. We were having a lot of trouble getting rides, so Mike said , Kenny, you look bad, rough as a cob, you are the reason we're not getting anywhere! You need to hide behind that tree over there and let me get the rides and then you can come on out. Well, that worked just fine until I popped out from behind that tree, then they took off with black rubber marks! We finally did get a ride with an elderly couple and they were so nice to us that they took us out to eat at a high dollar restaurant and we had a nice steak. I asked them why they were doing this and they said they had a son in the military in another country, and they would want somebody to do that for him. Good people. We slept in a box car that night though. Anyway, looks like I have an extra econo now. It's really got "THE" sound if you know what I mean.
    Thanks again to Steve, I know a nice honest guy when I do business with them.
    He's top notch.

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  15. #12
    Registered User stevo58's Avatar
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    Default Re: The long, arduous journey of Silverangel #438 - with a happy

    Ken if you ever make it over drop me a line and I’ll host you. I’m right on the German-Swiss-French border (Basel) so we can do 3 countries in 15 minutes, if we don’t get out of the car. I can show you what the tours don’t. You two are always welcome.

    Steve
    Silverangel Econo A #438
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    Default Re: The long, arduous journey of Silverangel #438 - with a happy

    Now that is a story. I won't be so upset the next time something takes a week to travel 20 miles.

    I was wondering what difference an f style Ken had for sale would be from my A. I was interested in it being different. He told me it would sound pretty much the same. I'd just be buying a different shape.

    I'd love to get an SA, Country Boy, and perhaps a Morris in the same room sometime. It would be interesting. Anyone wanting to move up in the mandolin world would be wise to consider an SA, the primary reason I advise those on an upgrade path to budget $1400 or so and go for it.
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    Registered User Gunnar's Avatar
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    Default Re: The long, arduous journey of Silverangel #438 - with a happy

    Ok, I know it's wrong, but I actually got a little excited when you said it was stuck in Swaziland; that's only about four days drive away from me. Probably the closest a good mandolin has ever been to my house anyway, congratulations on your new mandolin, everything I've ever heard about SAs and Mr. Ken is very positive. I can personally vouch for the tardiness of any African postal system too
    Mandolin: Kentucky KM150
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  19. #15

    Default Re: The long, arduous journey of Silverangel #438 - with a happy

    Tracking info on a much awaited mandolin can be extremely anxiety producing. Recently I purchased an instrument coming from the southeastern US to the west coast of the US. On the first day the package made a couple hops and finally overnighted in Jacksonville, FL, USA. The next morning the tracking updated as departed Jacksonville. It was 6 long days of nothing. No updates at all. After 5 days I was finding it hard to be rational. I was personally livid that it got shipped via ground but it was a done deal at this point. I wrote, but did not send, at least 2 or 3 revisions of angry emails to the shipper. I knew they wouldn't be sent but it was a valuable exercise and kept others from suffering my internal wrath. Finally, after 6 very long days, at the end of the day. Bzzzzt - I got a notification that it had arrived in a city nearby with a very large rail yard. My mandolin had been on a train and went to God only knows where before it got to me. I was so happy and relieved when it finally showed up in the system and then arrived the next day.

    I'm glad you have a new instrument to play. Very good times getting to know a new friend.

  20. #16
    Kelley Mandolins Skip Kelley's Avatar
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    Default Re: The long, arduous journey of Silverangel #438 - with a happy

    Steve, thanks for sharing! I’m glad there was a happy ending to this story! And you are right about Ken; he’s one of the finest people I have ever met and I’m honored to call him my friend!

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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: The long, arduous journey of Silverangel #438 - with a happy

    That is an amazing story. And the mandolin looks wonderful— certainly in my taste, simple but well-built and sounds great. What more can you ask for. Great to hear another wonderful story about one of our many excellent "resident" luthiers.
    Jim

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  22. #18
    I really look like that soliver's Avatar
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    Default Re: The long, arduous journey of Silverangel #438 - with a happy

    What a great story!... You will LOVE that SA, I certainly love mine and yours not TOO far off in serial digits from mine! Congrats!

    By the way...

    Quote Originally Posted by Br1ck View Post
    ...Anyone wanting to move up in the mandolin world would be wise to consider an SA, the primary reason I advise those on an upgrade path to budget $1400 or so and go for it.
    I agree with this statement 100,000%!
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  23. #19
    Registered User Louise NM's Avatar
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    Default Re: The long, arduous journey of Silverangel #438 - with a happy

    So this means that, after the first guy who messed it up, no one along the way took half a second to read the label?

  24. #20
    Registered User stevo58's Avatar
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    Default Re: The long, arduous journey of Silverangel #438 - with a happy

    Quote Originally Posted by Louise NM View Post
    So this means that, after the first guy who messed it up, no one along the way took half a second to read the label?
    Sure looks that way. I’ll have to check, but it sure it was controlled by an improper scan code.

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    Yep.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    And the mandolin looks wonderful— certainly in my taste, simple but well-built and sounds great. What more can you ask for.

    Yeah, I like clean, simple designs.

    Except when it comes to tenor banjos. They should be as tasteless and gaudy as possible. It just doesn’t look right otherwise.
    Last edited by stevo58; Jul-19-2019 at 12:58am.
    Silverangel Econo A #438
    Prucha Pioneer tenor banjo
    1928 Slingerland tenor banjo (soon to be renecked)
    Gold Tone WL-250 (soon to be sold)
    Martin OM-21
    Loar LH-700
    Emmons GS-10
    More electrics than you can shake a stick at. I have to sell this stuff.

  25. #21
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    Default Re: The long, arduous journey of Silverangel #438 - with a happy

    An amazing tale. Thanks for sharing it. First good smile of the day. Enjoy that angel. R/
    I love hanging out with mandolin nerds . . . . . Thanks peeps ...

  26. #22
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    Default Re: The long, arduous journey of Silverangel #438 - with a happy

    Congratulations! Sorry for the wait, but glad it turned out well in the end! I once had a mandolin that was shipped from Boston take a week to get to me with no updates, and it was shipped second day air. It wasn’t a major purchase for me so I wasn’t terribly worried about it, but the seller was freaking out, as he was a stand up guy as well. It eventually arrived in good shape, but that was an anxiety producing week...can’t imagine the helplessness you must have felt!!!

    Oh, by the way, I’m a proud SA Econo owner as well. Ken is really building some fine mandolins!
    Chuck

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