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Thread: A visit to Ludwig Mandolins

  1. #1
    Registered User Mike Romkey's Avatar
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    Oct 2008
    Bettendorf, Iowa
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    Default A visit to Ludwig Mandolins

    I have an F5 that needs frets and a '24 F2 I traded for with a repaired scroll that was a bit on the ugly side. There aren't many luthiers in my neck of the woods here in Iowa -- well, there's a guy who works on orchestra instruments who is great, but he's not in the re-fretting business.

    Both those projects sat on the back burner a goodly long time awaiting my next trip to Nashville, Lawrence or Denver. But then Dale Ludwig's name popped up.

    Dale's a mandolin builder and cabinet maker in DeKalb, Ill. I knew of him for building both traditional mandolins as well as some out-there instruments. Somewhere back in my brain is an image of a green mandolin, which are definitely rarities.

    Anyway, short story long, I hoped in my SUV Monday with some mandolins for the drive over to DeKalb, which is about 30 miles east of Chicago.

    The shop is located on the ground floor of what used to be the Wurlitzer Piano Factory. Dale is a heck of a friendly guy. We sat and chatted for more than an hour. He checked out my two repair projects and a couple of other show-and-tell mandolins, and then was kind enough to walk me around his shop and share some of his work.

    Dale had one of his F5s in the shop, his personal baby, which has a neck to die for. One of the best-playing necks I've ever had in my hand. Like butter, as they say. And good tone to boot.

    He also had a redwood-topped oval A that is probably the loudest oval I've ever run into. Dale was able to get his hands on some apparently freak redwood from Orcas Island that is a lot lighter than typical redwood. Kind of a "secret sauce" wood.

    He also showed me some A and F tops he's working on, his setup for getting tops ready to carve, and a couple of guitars he has in the works.

    It's great to have a resource like Dale in easy driving range of my neck of the woods. DeKalb is a whole lot closer than Nashville!
    '09 Gilchrist Model 1, “July 9” Red Diamond F-5, '12 Duff F-5, '19 Collings MT2, ’24 A2-Z, ’24 F-2, '13 Collings mandola, '82 D-35, Gibson Keb Mo.

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  3. #2

    Default Re: A visit to Ludwig Mandolins

    Dale is a treasure for sure.... Can't ask for a more talented, nice guy to be found. He has done some work on some instruments of mine and has done a lights out job each time... Can't speak highly enough of his work or the man.
    John D

  4. #3
    Registered User
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    Feb 2011
    Conneaut Lake, PA

    Default Re: A visit to Ludwig Mandolins

    His name is Ludewig. It was probably your auto correct.

    2016 Weber Custom Bitterroot F
    2011 Weber Bitterroot A
    1974 Martin Style A
    Fender Octave Mandolin c.2004-2008

  5. #4
    Registered User j. condino's Avatar
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    Nov 2005
    Asheville, NC

    Default Re: A visit to Ludwig Mandolins

    'Great instrument builder, a good friend, and one of the coolest old geezers I know!
    Spruce dork

  6. #5
    Registered User Steve Roberts's Avatar
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    Jul 2009
    Cleveland, Ohio

    Default Re: A visit to Ludwig Mandolins

    "for the drive over to DeKalb, which is about 30 miles east of Chicago. "

    Mike- with due respect, 30 miles east of Chicago is the middle of Lake Michigan. Kinda wet place to build mandolins. I think DeKalb is 30 miles west of Chicago.

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