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Thread: Stiver Mandolin Experience

  1. #1
    Pittsburgh Bill
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    Default Stiver Mandolin Experience

    Tell me about your Stiver Mandolin. How did it compare to other mandolins you have owned or played?
    I have wanted a Stiver since I first had one in my hands and have finally pulled the trigger on a new build. Interested in the experience of others as a way to help me contain my eagerness in anticipation of receiving mine.
    Waiting for completion of a mandolin build for me is a kin to a child waiting to get a drivers license.
    Keith Edward Coleman A style, oval hole Mandola
    Stiver A style (eagerly awaiting spring 2020 arrival)
    Weber Gallatin A Mandola "D hole"
    Kentucky KM-950
    Harley Benton A style (Current campfire tool)
    Rogue 100A (Spare canoe paddle)

  2. #2
    Registered User
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    Default Re: Stiver Mandolin Experience

    Bill, I’ve had a pretty good roster of mandolins and I can truly say my two Stiver’s are the most satisfying ones I’ve owned. They don’t start their life off as amazing but still really good. They need to be played hard and by that I just mean consistently to get the goods. Once they’re open there’s really nothing quite like it. That being said my latest Stiver was in pretty much meant condition and if nothing changed about it and it stayed exactly the way it is I would be completely content. There is a magic to these Mandolin’s. A lot of people refer to them as “Bluegrass Mandolin’s” but honestly I haven’t heard a prettier sounding Mandolin. It is pure note that you will receive. If you are into a more stringy sounding mandolin then you may have ordered the wrong one. Last February I brought my mandolin to Joval festival. I sat in a circle with other players will be following Mandolin’s. Monteleone, another monteleone, a 20’s fern, a Nugget,
    and a Loar. Stiver did not fall behind in one minute. This is not just me saying it because I’m the owner but every player there admitted that it was the closest to the maturity of the Loar. It’s been played hard since 97 so it’s extremely open all the way up the neck. Never sounds harsh, a truly spectacular instrument.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Stiver Mandolin Experience

    My experience with Stiver mandolins is more from a listener's perspective. At our Wednesday night jam, a guy brings along his Stiver A model and to my ears, (especially compared to my 1956 Gibson F-12) it has a much darker, woodier timbre than my Gibson. It is quite loud too. Considering that we are both playing mandolins, Stiver A vs. Gibson F, his Stiver never fails to get my attention, sometimes enviously. Lou builds great mandolins period.

    Len B.
    Clearwater, FL

  4. #4

    Default Re: Stiver Mandolin Experience

    I was waiting for Demetrius to weigh in, as he's played and owned more top shelf mandolins than I've ever laid my eyes on. I've owned a 2015 Stiver F for a year and a half and love its balanced stings, the pop to its chop, superb tone and classic beauty. Lou makes a wonderful mandolin. It really opened up with daily playing and J75's. I've backed down a bit to GHS A270s and find them a well balanced fit for my Stiver and my style of playing. I love this mandolin, and it will be lifetime instrument for me. Congratulations, Bill.

  5. #5
    Mandolin user MontanaMatt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Stiver Mandolin Experience

    Good luck with the wait! My last custom order was expected to take 1.5 yrs...time stood still! Then the Luthier announced to me that I’d jumped up in line and I received delivery at 10 months. Time travel is fantastic!
    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

  6. #6

    Default Re: Stiver Mandolin Experience

    I have had my Stiver since it was new in 2017. It has always been remarkable but it has really been opening up week after week. The mandolin has seen 50+ shows this year. My previous mandolins were a Gibson F5G that had the guts played out of it before I owned it and Kentucky Km1500 before that. I also had an Eastman 505 for a time. I truly find the Stiver to be on an entirely different level than all of them including the Gibson.

    My Stiver (#366) was, to my understanding, the first torrefied red spruce top Lou built. Having other torrefied instruments, I am a full believer in the positive qualities that it provides. The mandolin is a dream to play as well. I was a bit apprehensive about the neck profile being a rather slim rounded shape, but after 2 years of playing, it feels like home. I did upgrade to waverly tuning machines. I got the brushed nickel with pearl buttons. The brushed nickel matches the tail piece now and the plastic buttons on the stock tuners looked very cheap to me. Functionally however, the stock tuners were fine. I also upgraded the factory case to a Calton... well cus.. you know.

    I believe I have found the mandolin that will stay with me for a life time. I had severe MAS for sometime before acquiring the Stiver and I can honestly say that I have not looked at mandolins since the purchase. Now if I could only find "the" guitar that ends my GAS...

    I also have to give a shout out to the guys at Acoustic Music Works for their help in acquiring the right one for me. They are truly some of the best people in the buisness running one of the best shops in the buisness.
    Stiver F5 #366
    Huss & Dalton TD-M Custom
    1935 Martin 00-17
    HD-28E Retro
    1927 Whyte Laydie no. 2

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  8. #7
    Pittsburgh Bill
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    Default Re: Stiver Mandolin Experience

    I appreciate input received and find these views echo my experiences with Stiver Mandolins.
    Not heard from anyone that that has owned a Stiver that they were unable to bond with or why they were unable to bond.
    There was an older A style for sale that I test drove but declined to buy as it had a flat fret board, an unscooped Florida, and a fair amount of fret wear. I would have still purchased it as Lou was willing to make the changes that I desired at a reasonable cost. However, the non negotiable selling price combined with the work I felt it needed priced it well beyond what I thought I should be paying.
    Keith Edward Coleman A style, oval hole Mandola
    Stiver A style (eagerly awaiting spring 2020 arrival)
    Weber Gallatin A Mandola "D hole"
    Kentucky KM-950
    Harley Benton A style (Current campfire tool)
    Rogue 100A (Spare canoe paddle)

  9. #8
    Registered User
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    Default Re: Stiver Mandolin Experience

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  10. #9
    Registered User
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    Default Re: Stiver Mandolin Experience

    I was on the phone with Elderly Instruments a few years ago asking about a 70's era Gibson F5. The sales person was kind of so-so abut the instrument so i asked him to let me hear his choice. He brought a Stiver F5 to the phone and I could immediately hear the difference (over the phone!). I asked my then teacher Brian Oberlin about it: he had been on tour and played all the mandolins at Elderly. He said it was the second best one in the store, and a friend had already bought the best. It is beautiful, lively, easy to play, and my fellow jammers keep telling me I'm drowning out the banjos.

  11. #10

    Default Re: Stiver Mandolin Experience

    I have been playing a 1984 Stiver F5 since 1989. My brother had one and I have played with lots of folds with Stivers at festivals, Augusta, and Kaufman Kamp. I've never heard one that was not excellent. You can't go wrong with a Stiver. Lou keeps a low profile. Otherwise, I think he could be charging $10k and up like a lot of the big names. It sure seems like he doesn't have any problem selling them as fast as he can make them and it is not easy to find a used one.

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