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Thread: Review: The Iwamoto mandolin #118

  1. #1

    Default Review: The Iwamoto mandolin #118

    I contracted with Takeshi Iwamoto in February 2020 to build a mandolin for me.

    I've been posting on the progress of the build process and you can check out that thread here:

    Some quick background:
    Iwamoto-san 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. He is well regarded by cafe members who have met him and played his instruments.

    I played one of his mandolins at Dusty Strings in Seattle in Feb 2019 and was very impressed with it. Unfortunately, I was unable to buy it at the time and another lucky cafe member ended up with it.

    I couldn't stop thinking about that mandolin and eventually reached out to Iwamoto-san and he was very easy to work with.
    He accommodated every request that I made regarding finish, inlay, binding, neck shape, fingerboard radius, fretwire, hardware and strings.
    He kept me updated with every phase of the building process and sent pictures as he completed each stage.

    Anyhow, I received The Iwamoto #118 a few days ago and it is terrific!
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Solid hand-carved red spruce top with honey amber finish
    Solid hand-carved flame maple back and sides with amber-burst finish
    One piece flamed maple neck
    Tortoise binding, front, back, fingerboard and headstock
    Radiused ebony fingerboard (9.5"), 21 frets with scooped extension
    Radiused ebony bridge with gold adjustment wheels
    EVO gold medium fretwire
    Ebony peghead overlay with MOP fern inlay
    MOP truss rod cover
    Bone nut - 1 1/8"
    James tailpiece gold
    Gotoh worm-under gold tuning machines with black buttons
    Gloss nitrocellulose lacquer finish

    Some photos:
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    The mandolin is comfortable to play. The neck has a slight V profile. A bit more substantial than the standard Collings, but not as chunky as the standard Weber.
    It is weighted well and hangs comfortably from the strap.
    The setup is superb. Low action with great intonation. Tuning machines are smooth and function well.
    The finish work is top notch.
    The sound is very good, to my ears. Extremely responsive and a wide range of volume.
    Good chop and also great sustain.

    I've added a matching maple McClung armrest with gold hardware from Hill Country String Works.

    Video review to follow.


    Edit- I have no idea why most of my photos posted sideways
    Last edited by stevojack665; Jun-14-2020 at 1:37am.

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  3. #2

    Default Re: Review: The Iwamoto mandolin #118

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  5. #3

    Default Re: Review: The Iwamoto mandolin #118

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    Last edited by Mandolin Cafe; Jun-14-2020 at 1:13pm.

  6. #4
    This Kid Needs Practice Bill Clements's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Michigan, USA

    Default Re: Review: The Iwamoto mandolin #118

    "Music is the only noise for which one is obliged to pay." ~ Alexander Dumas

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  8. #5

    Default Re: Review: The Iwamoto mandolin #118

    Wow, that is a fine mandolin! It has been most enjoyable to watch this thread throughout the build. Thanks for sharing and I really liked the videos too.

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