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Thread: A Willing Vessel

  1. #1
    My Florida is scooped pheffernan's Avatar
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    Default A Willing Vessel

    I think I first became interested in a mandola when the snakehead H2, nicknamed “The Centaur,” turned up at ETSU back in 2015:

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/t...ad-H-2-mandola

    And that interest only intensified back in 2017, when Gail Hester completed what she dubbed an H3 for Joe Mendel:

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/t...A5-and-H3-pair

    Certainly, I had seen some tenor lute conversions by Bill Halsey and Gary Vessel, who I also knew to have produced a stunning H5 reproduction:

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/t...-Mandola-found

    So I started to wonder: what would an A-style mandola with f-holes from the Loar era look, and more importantly sound, like? Somehow, without my ever having asked that question aloud, Gary answered it.

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    Gary builds in the old way, eschewing CNC in favor of handtools while continuing to use traditional materials like hot hide glue and oil varnish. The top features a pretty tight-grained piece of Adirondack red spruce:

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    The back and neck are maple with more figure than the birch often found on the backs of tenor lutes:

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    And while the build is classic, the appointments include a contemporary James tailpiece, Cumberland Acoustics bridge, and EVO frets:

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    Plus, there is a lovely set of Rubner tuners:

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    The result is an instrument that feels vintage but plays modern, producing a voice that is strong on clarity, note definition, and fundamental tone that I only expect to improve with increased playing time. It’s the instrument that Gibson was unwilling to build, so Gary did it for them.

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    Last edited by pheffernan; Jan-18-2020 at 2:01pm.

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  3. #2

    Default Re: A Willing Vessel

    Very nice. Does this currently belong to you? If so congrats.

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  5. #3
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    Default Re: A Willing Vessel

    I played this instrument at the Grass Valley Bluegrass Festival either last year or the year before. It was outstanding! One of the best mandolas I've played. To my ear mandolas can often sound buzzy without much punch or volume. This Vessel did not have any of those issues. I own an excellent Vessel A model with F holes.

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  7. #4
    Registered User Doug Freeman's Avatar
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    Default Re: A Willing Vessel

    Mr. Vessel seems to be killin' these days. This beautiful ivory A-3 styled octave mandolin is equally impressive (friendly 20" scale too!):

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/149510#149510

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  9. #5
    I really look like that soliver's Avatar
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    Default Re: A Willing Vessel

    Pheff, is this beauty yours now?... I'm sure that I'm not the only one who would love to hear it!
    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.”
    -anonymous

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  11. #6
    My Florida is scooped pheffernan's Avatar
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    Default Re: A Willing Vessel

    Quote Originally Posted by Josh Levine View Post
    Very nice. Does this currently belong to you? If so congrats.
    Quote Originally Posted by soliver View Post
    Pheff, is this beauty yours now?... I'm sure that I'm not the only one who would love to hear it!
    Yes Josh and Spencer, this TM5 as Gary calls it has relocated to South Florida. Bill is correct in that it is definitely punchy for a mandola. And Doug is also right in that Gary’s whitefaced octave is a knockout.
    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
    2018 Vessel TM5

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  13. #7

    Default Re: A Willing Vessel

    I have always admired Gary's work and the sound samples I've heard have always been top notch. Would love to play one some day. Congrats on the beautiful mandola. Love the look and I bet you love the tone.
    Palatable to a Goat: New Music from Gregg Daigle and Don Grieser, now on bandcamp
    http://HillbillyChamberMusic.bandcamp.com

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  15. #8
    My Florida is scooped pheffernan's Avatar
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    Default Re: A Willing Vessel

    Quote Originally Posted by Don Grieser View Post
    Love the look and I bet you love the tone.
    I really do! The only other mandola on which I have logged significant time is a Smart H5, and whether due to the longer scale or Engelmann top, it has a more complex voice with lots of overtones. The Vessel, with its shorter scale and Adi top, has a stronger fundamental and it seems to me added punch. Squirrelabama once described Gail Hester’s mandolins as “new old stock,” and I think that term really applies to Gary as well. This mandola pays tribute to vintage instruments built with traditional methods only with the meticulous work of a modern independent luthier.
    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
    2018 Vessel TM5

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