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Thread: Mandolin Luthier Recommendations NY/NJ/PA

  1. #1
    Registered User Benski's Avatar
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    Default Mandolin Luthier Recommendations NY/NJ/PA

    Does anyone have any first hand experience with a luthier for mandolin work (Florida scoop, fret ends, etc.) in or around New Jersey/New York City/Philadelphia that you can recommend? Last time I inquired about this was about 10 years ago and I'm assuming the roster has changed. Thanks and cheers.
    2009 Bush Fern '34

  2. #2
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin Luthier Recommendations NY/NJ/PA

    Paul Unkert in Toms River.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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    Registered User Bob Clark's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin Luthier Recommendations NY/NJ/PA

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeEdgerton View Post
    Paul Unkert in Toms River.
    +1 for Paul Unkert.
    Purr more, hiss less.

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    Teacher, luthier
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    Default Re: Mandolin Luthier Recommendations NY/NJ/PA

    Also Troy Harris, Poughkeepsie, NY.

  5. #5
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin Luthier Recommendations NY/NJ/PA

    That's kind of a hike.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Mandolin Luthier Recommendations NY/NJ/PA

    I gotta look up this Paul Unkert. I have heard the name dropped a few times. He's not far from me. It would be nice to have someone to refer clients to. Seldom, but every once in a while I need to refer to a specialist. The only place I know for serious classical luthery near me is in Phily and they are silly twisted expensive. If its a structural issue on an acoustic instrument, its not for me. I have a friend in Hopewell NJ, Curt Wilson, that I respect for acoustic guitars but he doesn't specialize in mandolins -- anything at all Gretsch and he's your guy for sure.

    I try to reach out to other craftsmen/luthiers/techs locally. Too often there is an ego or a competition problem. There's plenty of work to go around. I know my strengths and weaknesses and my buddy Curt has mojo for things that I wouldn't touch.

  7. #7
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin Luthier Recommendations NY/NJ/PA

    Paul's a friend of mine. He's not a guy that uses the Internet so e-mail doesn't work well for contacting him. Paul doesn't specialize in mandolins but he's familiar with them. He's been around a long time.

    http://www.theoriginalguitarguy.com/

    Google his name, there are a few videos. Give him a call.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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    Registered User rnjl's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin Luthier Recommendations NY/NJ/PA

    Hey don't mean to be off topic but I live in Poughkeepsie and have tried to contact Troy Harris a couple of times- he has never responded. Maybe my reputation for playing the wrong chords got around and he doesn't want to be associated with the likes of me?

  9. #9
    Registered User Troy Harris's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin Luthier Recommendations NY/NJ/PA

    This surprises me. I always respond to inquiries. I had an emergency in my family late last year. However, I thought that I followed up on all my emails. You may want to double-check to see if you have the correct contact information. The best way to contact me is by email through my website.
    About ten years ago I started working full-time as a restorer for a violin shop. The responsibility of the job requires most of my time. I do not take additional mandolin repair work. I want to focus on building mandolins with the limited time available outside of the violin work. Thank you.
    Best,
    Troy

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    Registered User rnjl's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin Luthier Recommendations NY/NJ/PA

    Thank you Troy for reply. Must have been a technical glitch in my messages. Appreciate the clarification and hope to play your mandolins someday!

    Neal in Poughkeepsie

  11. #11
    Registered User Hendrik Ahrend's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin Luthier Recommendations NY/NJ/PA

    Ben, to avoid the clicking noise and scooping, you might also try a smaller pick; just saying. But of course, green light.

  12. #12
    Registered User Benski's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin Luthier Recommendations NY/NJ/PA

    Hi Henry! Seems almost every mandolin that has been my main player for the past 50 years has either had a scooped, abbreviated or totally absent Florida. So, while I tried switching from a TAD60 to a more rounded TAD-3R 60, I can't seem to avoid hitting the dern thing...and it's right below the sweet spot for me, too. So while I am a purist at heart, I'm also enough of an engineer to have to embrace the "form follows function" approach...in the end, I guess I'm just an old dog and reorganizing my right hand technique is too much of a new trick at this late stage.

    Mike: thanks for the tip re: Paul. I called him and we had a great chat. Turns out we are both Eagle Scouts who went to the same camp as kids.

    Story at 11....

    Cheers.

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  14. #13
    Quietly Making Noise Dave Greenspoon's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin Luthier Recommendations NY/NJ/PA

    Maybe also more a schlep than you want, but Brooklyn, and RetroFret? Make sure to go to the new location, 87 Luquer St, Brooklyn.
    Axes: Rigel A Natural #1774 w/mods, Andrew Jerman Irwin-style 5 string electric "Stealie", Eastman 515, Eastman El Ray, Crafter M85E, Dillion 335 style, Grandmom's solid-mahogany teens bent-top, Baglamas 002
    Boards: Acoustic Electric
    Amps: Fishman Loudbox 100; Rivera Clubster Royale Recording Head; Laney Cub 10 & Cab, Peavey Studio Pro

  15. #14
    Registered User Benski's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin Luthier Recommendations NY/NJ/PA

    Dave: thanks for the suggestion. The folks at Retrofret are good people. I got to Savannah today to visit my son and Randy Wood was kind enough to agree to do the work for me while I am here.

    Cheers and again, thanks.

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