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Thread: Iwamoto F5 mandolin #118 in progress

  1. #1

    Default Iwamoto F5 mandolin #118 in progress

    About a year ago I was in Washington for a ski-athon fundraiser at Crystal Mountain. I built in some extra time to hang out in Seattle and eat at Piroshky Piroshky and to go play instruments at Dusty Strings.
    I always love visiting Dusty Strings. A great shop with fantastic staff and wonderful instruments.

    I had a few hours there and played every mandolin on the wall. The standout to me, better than all of the Collings and Northfields and everything else was an F5 that said "The Iwamoto" on the headstock. I'd never heard of that maker before but the mandolin was so beautifully built and sounded so good that I was tempted to buy it right there. I didn't really have the money for it however. I decided that I'd try to sell some instruments when I got home in order to buy it.

    When I called Dusty Strings a few weeks later to ask about it, they told me it had been sold. It turns out, it was sold to a Cafe member. Here's a thread about it:
    https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/t...43866-Iwamoto?

    Since it was gone, I figured that maybe that was for the best since it was still out of my budget.
    A few months ago, I came across an Iwamoto listed on Reverb. It was about $500 more than the one I'd seen in Seattle. I decided to research The Iwamoto to see what I could find and to decide if I should buy it.
    I found out that Takeshi Iwamoto has been building mandolins, guitars, dobros, banjos and violins in Tokyo since 1978. He's regarded as one of the finest luthiers in the country. And he's a great bluegrass mandolin player who hosts a jam at a local bar every month.

    According to Scott aka "Desert Rose" who worked at Kentucky in Japan with renowned builder Sumi,
    Iwamoto is "THE builder of choice for the high end Tokyo market of bluegrass pickers"
    https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/t...l=1#post242411

    I also found Iwamoto's web page and decided to contact him to ask about the mandolin I'd seen for sale.
    His main brand is called Acoustic World.
    http://www.acousticworld.com/mandolin.html

    He got back to me very quickly and over the course of our emails we agreed that I would commission him to build a mandolin for me.

    Today I received some pictures of the build in progress and I'm super excited about them.

    So here are some photos of Iwamoto #118 in progress
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  3. #2

    Default Re: Iwamoto F5 mandolin #118 in progress

    More photos
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  4. #3

    Default Re: Iwamoto F5 mandolin #118 in progress

    NAMC (no acoustic mandolin content) but, FWIW, the electric mando in my avatar was built by Takeshi Iwamoto – I've owned many an emando in my time, and it's lightyears better than the herd.

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  6. #4

    Default Re: Iwamoto F5 mandolin #118 in progress

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Bevan View Post
    NAMC (no acoustic mandolin content) but, FWIW, the electric mando in my avatar was built by Takeshi Iwamoto – I've owned many an emando in my time, and it's lightyears better than the herd.
    Sam Bush plays an Iwamoto electric mandolin too
    Click image for larger version. 

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  8. #5

    Default Re: Iwamoto F5 mandolin #118 in progress

    Quote Originally Posted by stevojack665 View Post
    Sam Bush plays an Iwamoto electric mandolin too
    Ya, I've been wondering about that since I first saw photos of Sam with one.

    I was passing through Tokyo in 2008, I think (and had told myself that I wasn't going to buy any instruments on this trip!) when I saw a pair of these hanging on the wall the 4-string and an 8-string. I auditioned the 4-string direct through a PA mixer just so I could hear what was really there, couldn't put it down, and made the deal.

    "Where did these come from?" I asked, and was told that Iwamoto was commissioned by the store that I was in to make a pair of copies of a '59 Les Paul that was in their position (explains why the 10th fret marker is on the 9th fret). They also told me that Iwamoto said that he'd never make another (not his cup of green tea?), so until I saw the photos of Sam's, I assumed that I had the only 4-string in existence.

    I also asked them "Why did you have these commissioned?", and was told "Because we knew that one day someone like you would come in here." I wonder where the 8-string ended up...?

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  10. #6

    Default Re: Iwamoto F5 mandolin #118 in progress

    That's super cool! Thanks for sharing the story.
    This is on the 1st page of the Acoustic World website
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    http://acousticworld.com/

    Here's a page on electric mandolins
    http://acousticworld.com/jmandolin.html#eleman
    Using Google translate from Japanese
    Click image for larger version. 

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  11. #7
    mandolin slinger Steve Ostrander's Avatar
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    Default Re: Iwamoto F5 mandolin #118 in progress

    I’ve seen and played a F5 style mandolin with “Takeshi” on the headstock, but never Iwamoto. It was at Elderly Instruments, and it’s been a while, maybe two or three years ago. Unfortunately I can’t remember much about it, only that I had never heard of Takeshi.

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  13. #8

    Default Re: Iwamoto F5 mandolin #118 in progress

    Today's pictures.
    Tone bars:
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    Neck:
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  14. #9

    Default Re: Iwamoto F5 mandolin #118 in progress

    Top, back, and sides ready for glue
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  15. #10

    Default Re: Iwamoto F5 mandolin #118 in progress

    Top glued and bound:
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    Neck measured. 29.5mm nut width
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  16. #11

    Default Re: Iwamoto F5 mandolin #118 in progress

    Neck and headstock taking shape:
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  17. #12
    Registered User Todd Bowman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Iwamoto F5 mandolin #118 in progress

    Absolutely stunning! I love the look of the top-bound tortoise/white/black/white binding. Haven't seen that combination yet. I like it!!
    ========================
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  19. #13

    Default Re: Iwamoto F5 mandolin #118 in progress

    I met Iwamoto-San last year and played in that jam. The bar is called Moon Stomp, in Koenji. He’s really nice and the whole crowd was incredibly welcoming. I saw one of his instruments in a store there with a rainbow finish - just wild. Click image for larger version. 

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  21. #14

    Default Re: Iwamoto F5 mandolin #118 in progress

    Quote Originally Posted by Ramparte View Post
    I met Iwamoto-San last year and played in that jam. The bar is called Moon Stomp, in Koenji. He’s really nice and the whole crowd was incredibly welcoming. I saw one of his instruments in a store there with a rainbow finish - just wild.
    That's super cool!
    He sent me photos of many of his instruments when I was deciding on finish and that one was included. They are gorgeous!

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    Last edited by stevojack665; Apr-17-2020 at 1:13pm.

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  23. #15

    Default Re: Iwamoto F5 mandolin #118 in progress

    Another update. Neck shaped and installed. Back glued and clamped

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  24. #16

    Default Re: Iwamoto F5 mandolin #118 in progress

    Assembled and ready for staining!
    Radiused ebony fretboard.
    Gold EVO fretwire.
    Tortoise binding.

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  26. #17

    Default Re: Iwamoto F5 mandolin #118 in progress

    1st pass with color
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  28. #18

    Default Re: Iwamoto F5 mandolin #118 in progress

    Looks amazing. Is it going to be blonde?
    Palatable to a Goat: New Music from Gregg Daigle and Don Grieser, now on bandcamp
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  30. #19

    Default Re: Iwamoto F5 mandolin #118 in progress

    Quote Originally Posted by Don Grieser View Post
    Looks amazing. Is it going to be blonde?
    I think so too!

    It's going to be blonde top with amber-burst back, sides, and neck

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  32. #20
    Registered User
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    Default Re: Iwamoto F5 mandolin #118 in progress

    Looking forward to seeing the finished mandolin. Love the lighter finishes with the tortoise binding.

    Adam

  33. #21

    Default Re: Iwamoto F5 mandolin #118 in progress

    2nd pass

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  34. #22
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    Default Re: Iwamoto F5 mandolin #118 in progress

    thanks for the pictures as the build was happening, that thing is beautiful!

    you must post up close pics of the headstock inlay when you get it in hand, that looks great.

    I wouldn't have thought it if someone told me, but seeing the pictures of the Rainbow, I like that!

    d

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  36. #23
    I really look like that soliver's Avatar
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    Default Re: Iwamoto F5 mandolin #118 in progress

    Congrats!... I know how exciting it is to have an instrument custom built.
    aka: Spencer
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  38. #24

    Default Re: Iwamoto F5 mandolin #118 in progress

    More finishing photos:
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  39. #25

    Default Re: Iwamoto F5 mandolin #118 in progress

    Finish complete. Test fit tuning machines and truss rod cover:

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