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Thread: My new Silverangel Econo A has arrived!

  1. #1
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    Smile My new Silverangel Econo A has arrived!

    Ken Ratcliff does not disappoint! I got in touch with Ken 5-6 weeks ago to place an order for a Silverangel Econo A after I had researched them on the forum here and listened over and over to them on YouTube videos, and decided that was the mandolin that Iíve been looking for. We talked a long time about what I wanted and shared about our background a bit, and I could tell that Ken is a man of genuine character and skill. He started on my mando immediately, and kept me updated every step of the way with texts, messages, and best of all, pictures of my mandolin in progress. Oh, the thrill of seeing it develop over these weeks. So if you are considering having a mandolin built to your specifications, do not hesitate to talk to Ken. You cannot find a more honest, upstanding man to work with, and the result of this journey is my Silverangel that I received three days ago ó an Econo A with a redwood top, one piece maple back, engraved James tailpiece, v-shaped speed neck, satin oil varnish finish, and the most beautiful, slightly distressed sunburst color Iíve ever seen. So weíve been bonding for the last three days, and Iím loving everything about it ó its look but more than that, its tone and playability. Really deep, woody bass and crystal clear, solid highs. And get this! Ken sent it to me to try out without any money exchanged! So this whole process has been incredible, and I hope someday to get to meet Ken in person, and since my daughter lives in Louisville, I may get that chance! Thank you, Ken, for building me the mandolin that I will be satisfied with for the rest of my life.
    Last edited by brose; Aug-11-2019 at 12:35am. Reason: Want to add a picture

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: My new Silverangel Econo A has arrived!

    Click image for larger version. 

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ID:	178937I’m trying to add a picture, but have not figured out how to upload it yet. When I figure it out, I’ll post it. Yay, it worked!

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  5. #3

    Default Re: My new Silverangel Econo A has arrived!

    Wow! That is really beautiful. Every picture I’ve ever seen of a silver angel has been incredible. Everyone I’ve heard sound bites from as sounded simply great. I’m working on developing my own skill so that I can justify buying one of these.
    Loar LM-370

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    Registered User stevo58's Avatar
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    Default Re: My new Silverangel Econo A has arrived!

    Just do it. My skills certainly donít justify it - but since I got mine I hardly play anything else (meaning guitar, banjo, or whatever) and I have improved quite a bit. Owning an inspirational instrument can spur you on.

    I have the same reaction to mine - it plays like butter, sounds just as i hoped, and the sunburst is incredible.

    And yes, Ken is a good guy.

    Steven
    Silverangel Econo A #438
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  8. #5
    Registered User William Smith's Avatar
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    Default Re: My new Silverangel Econo A has arrived!

    Wow that's a very nice mandolin! I love those ones he does with the angel painting on the back, I'd love one of those with a slight mod to the angel painting! I've heard he uses real old wood and that is a plus as I think ancient wood is the key, well part why they sound so great! I love Ken's work but never had the pleasure of playing one or seeing one in person.

    Your A has some mighty big F-holes, and close to the edge I noticed, does that allow more sound to be pushed out I wonder? Love the whole color and that one piece back is drool worthy! Love it, post a video if you get a chance so we all can hear it.

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    Registered User lflngpicker's Avatar
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    Default Re: My new Silverangel Econo A has arrived!

    That is a thing of beauty! The one piece back caught my eye. Wow!
    2017 Collings MT (Gloss Top, Wide Nut)
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  11. #7
    I really look like that soliver's Avatar
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    Default Re: My new Silverangel Econo A has arrived!

    Congrats!... it looks amazing and I'm sure it sounds amazing too! I sure love mine and I'm sure you'll grow to love yours more and more as time passes!
    aka: Spencer
    Silverangel Econo A #429
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    "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

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    Registered User Gunnar's Avatar
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    Default Re: My new Silverangel Econo A has arrived!

    Congratulations! Looks amazing!
    Mandolin: Kentucky KM150
    Other instruments: way too many, and yet, not nearly enough.

    "Imagine life without mandolin. Now slap yourself! Never do it again!" -Gunnar Salyer

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  15. #9
    Expert on my own opinion Bogle's Avatar
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    Default Re: My new Silverangel Econo A has arrived!

    Congrats....beautiful backside, too!

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  17. #10

    Default Re: My new Silverangel Econo A has arrived!

    Congrats and enjoy! I have the same model with a few different appointments.
    Teri LaMarco

  18. #11

    Default Re: My new Silverangel Econo A has arrived!

    Ken does a few things differently that sets Silverangels apart. Firstly, his arch top and back is deeper, enough that they won't fit many cases. If you want a toneguard, order it with a bigger arch. You can bend a stock one but it won't be pretty. Then there is the bridge posts drilled slightly canted back to counteract string pull. Nice idea. His use of redwood in many tops is different too. I believe many are X braced like mine too.

    Then there is his unique business practice of sending his instruments out into the world, which he's been doing lately with no up front money. That should tell you something. But not everyone is going to like the SA tone, just like everyone won't like a Gibson or Collings. But if you are looking to move up from a starter, I'm betting you will be pleased. You can't beat the value. My SA is fully bound and lightly reliced, masterfully so.
    Silverangel A
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    1913 Gibson A-1

  19. #12
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    Default Re: My new Silverangel Econo A has arrived!

    William, I’m not sure about the f holes, but it has plenty of sound already which I know will continue to improve with age. Also, Im not sure I’m video worthy yet, but I may try soon. Thanks,
    Becky

  20. #13
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    Default Re: My new Silverangel Econo A has arrived!

    Quote Originally Posted by Br1ck View Post
    Then there is his unique business practice of sending his instruments out into the world, which he's been doing lately with no up front money. That should tell you something. But not everyone is going to like the SA tone, just like everyone won't like a Gibson or Collings. But if you are looking to move up from a starter, I'm betting you will be pleased. You can't beat the value. My SA is fully bound and lightly reliced, masterfully so.
    What is the general consensus on the tone of a Silver Angel? I know this may be a difficult question. Tone is so subjective and not everyone hears an instrument the same way. I'm curious as I know MAS will strike again and I am always updating my short list. Ken's work is always spoken of in high regards and they are impressive when viewed here in the Cafe.
    I think of my Kentucky KM-950 as sounding like many modern Gibsons and good for 40s / 50s country & Rockabilly of which I mostly use it for. My Collings MT suits me for classical, show tunes, soft rock, & folk. Genres I'm playing far less than I used to.
    Keith Edward Coleman A style, oval hole Mandola
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  21. #14

    Default Re: My new Silverangel Econo A has arrived!

    Silverangels are warm and resonant. If I had to live with one mandolin and had to cover old timey, celtic, fiddle tunes and blugrass, throw classical in the mix, I could do it all with one. Almost any other brand will be brighter. When I had my SA at Gryphon for a minor tweak, I was able to play directly next to Collings an Northfield. It would be a subjective decision. Roughly on a 1 to ten scale of warm and resonant to bright and punchy, it would be SA 3, Big Mon 5, Collings MF 7, F5s 8.

    I find that when I play a bright mandolin like my Arches kit, then play my SA, it sounds like the SA lacks high end, though that is really not the case. Play the SA first, and it sounds full and balanced. Ears playing tricks.

    Play it after an Eastman MD 315, a mandolin I am quite fond of, and you'll think you died and went to heaven. I did that with the 505 I started on. It depends on what you do really. My Arches is so loud and punchy, I never take the SA out to a group setting. A friend with a Pava feels the same way. The Arches is a mandolin he holds back on the attack as to not be overpowering. Says the Pava can get lost up high on the fretboard.

    An SA would be a very good compliment to a Collings if you like variety. But listen to the SA YouTube clips and you don't hear a lack of anything.
    Silverangel A
    Arches F style kit
    1913 Gibson A-1

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  23. #15
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    Default Re: My new Silverangel Econo A has arrived!

    Trying to post a video. And it worked! Recorded it on my iPad, so not the greatest sound, but better than my phone, I discovered!


    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pArsBeNEhbM

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    Default Re: My new Silverangel Econo A has arrived!

    How come I think Iím a lot better than I really am, and then I hear myself recorded, but itís a good way to improve playing! I play too hard ó gotta lighten up. Same as my golf game!

  26. #17
    Registered User William Smith's Avatar
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    Default Re: My new Silverangel Econo A has arrived!

    Great job, that sounds mighty fine to me, great tone! The more you play the better you'll become and with a new mandolin sometimes it takes a bit to get to know it and figure out how to pull the best tone etc. Keep it up, with that mandolin you'll up your game!

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    Registered User Doug Brock's Avatar
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    Default Re: My new Silverangel Econo A has arrived!

    Quote Originally Posted by Br1ck View Post
    Ken does a few things differently that sets Silverangels apart. Firstly, his arch top and back is deeper, enough that they won't fit many cases. If you want a toneguard, order it with a bigger arch. You can bend a stock one but it won't be pretty.
    Ken said that he no longer builds his mandolins with the deeper arched back and that standard cases will fit fine. (He's about done with an Econo A for me!)
    Doug Brock
    Eastman MD315, Silverangel Econo A #446
    Pisgah Wonder, Martin HD28, Martin D18GE, CA Guitars Bluegrass Performer

  29. #19
    Registered User Doug Brock's Avatar
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    Default Re: My new Silverangel Econo A has arrived!

    Congratulations! My Econo A is supposed to be completed this week. I never would have thought I'd have a mandolin built specifically for me, but last month I contacted Ken about a mandolin he had on the Cafe Classifieds and next thing I knew I was working with Ken on specifications! Exciting process to see the raw wood selections, and then to see step by step as Ken transforms the wood into a mandolin! Ken is definitely a great guy to work with. (I had selected a James tailpiece too. Ken shared a pic of yours and mine after engraving. I asked if lots of people chose the James tailpiece for his mandolins and he said no, almost never, that it was very odd that he had two on the bench at the same time.)
    Doug Brock
    Eastman MD315, Silverangel Econo A #446
    Pisgah Wonder, Martin HD28, Martin D18GE, CA Guitars Bluegrass Performer

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  31. #20
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    Default Re: My new Silverangel Econo A has arrived!

    Yes, it is one of the most exciting journeys I’ve ever been on, and I’m loving the destination! I’ll be anxious to see and hear yours too! I’ve always loved the James tailpiece, and then when I saw it engraved on another Silverangel, I went for it!

  32. #21
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    Default Re: My new Silverangel Econo A has arrived!

    My sister bought one of those, exactly like that one. I had the opportunity to play it, and I found it to be very precise, solid, with a beautiful, warm voice. I think its a super value too…! congrats to all who have acquired one!

  33. #22

    Default Re: My new Silverangel Econo A has arrived!

    That is a beautiful instrument. On another note, do you attend the Backbone Bluegrass festival at Strawberry Point?

  34. #23
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    Default Re: My new Silverangel Econo A has arrived!

    I have in the past, but have not recently, but it is the best, most fun, most beautiful setting for a bluegrass festival that I have ever attended. Maybe next summer!

  35. #24

    Default Re: My new Silverangel Econo A has arrived!

    I usually try to go. Keith Yoder comes back from the Southland for it and Kalona so it is a good chance to talk and pick with him as well as a bunch of others. Plus they always have good bands. The weather was perfect this year except for a plague of flies around the site. Much better than the year the dam broke.

  36. #25
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    Default Re: My new Silverangel Econo A has arrived!

    Oh, yes, Keith Yoder of the McPunk Brothers! They are so good! I am really going to try to get to some festivals next year, even though they are few and far between in a Iowa!

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