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Thread: New Brian Dean LaBraid 10-string

  1. #1
    Registered User Ken_P's Avatar
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    Default New Brian Dean LaBraid 10-string

    I've been an admirer of Brian's work for many years, particularly the wildly original instrument he built for Joe Brent some years back and when I finally decided I wanted my dream mandolin built, he was the top of my list. I put a deposit down with him about two years ago, he started work back in February and I just took delivery at the end of last week. I've been playing around with it since then and while I've got a bit of learning to do, the instrument itself is remarkable. It's loud, clear, resonant, extremely responsive and has sustain into next week.

    The details: I've wanted a 10-string for a long time so obviously the first thing I asked for was could he build a 10-string version of his flat back German model (so called at the time, he's using "Opel" now). He agreed and in the course of our discussions he suggested going the fan fret route. I was slightly hesitant at first but eventually agreed because he was convinced that would be the way to get the best possible sound out of the entire extended range of the mandolin. The scale lengths go from 333mm (about 13") on the high E to 383mm (a little over 15") on the low C. My initial experience with the skewed fretboard echos what many others have said about it - it's much more confusing to look at than to play. I took to it right away and barely even notice it anymore.

    I told him I was looking for a balanced instrument with a nice warm bass and great clarity across the entire range and after discussing a variety of options settled on a Carpathian spruce (similar to Adirondack) top and Claro walnut body. There are a couple extra features that I specifically requested, a side sound hole so I could hear the true sound better while I'm playing. It sounds fantastic, I don't know how much the side port affects that but I like it. I also asked if he could borrow an idea from Joe Brent's mandolin that I mentioned before and put in a double back so there's a second piece of walnut just behind what appears to be the back of the instrument. This is basically a very fancy tone guard, it means my body won't dampen the vibrations while I'm playing because it's the internal back that's doing all the acoustical work. He also used that opportunity to hide all the bracing for the back in between the two layers so it looks completely smooth. I don't know if that has any effect on tone at all but it looks great. I also took that opportunity to ask for one of Brian's specialties, that the external back be make of fluted staves, akin to a bowlback. I think the result is truly stunning between Brian's impeccable workmanship and possibly the most beautifully figured wood I have ever seen.

    Because this was a slightly unusual build and significantly deeper than a standard instrument it required a custom case. This was constructed specifically to fit my mandolin by Kingham MTM in the UK. Pretty pricey for a standard hardshell case but again, the workmanship is first rate and it's made to fit like a glove so no complaints here.

    I'm including some of the pictures that Brian send me once the construction was complete, they do a great job of showing it off!

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Now for the most important part, the sound sample! This is an excerpt from the 6th Cello Suite Prelude, about 2/3 of the way through. I hope to record the whole movement and eventually the whole suite but for now I think this is an excellent way to demonstrate the range of the instrument. It goes from a low E (4th fret on C) to a high G (15th fret on E).

    https://drive.google.com/file/d/1lxd...ew?usp=sharing

    It should be pretty clear by now, I'm thrilled that this mandolin came out the way it did, I look forward to many many years of good music with it. I'll by happy to answer any questions and hopefully have more to share in a little bit.

  2. The Following 10 Users Say Thank You to Ken_P For This Useful Post:


  3. #2
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    Default Re: New Brian Dean LaBraid 10-string

    Very beautiful. A true work of art. Play it in good health.
    "Without self-discipline, success is impossible, period.”
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  4. #3
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: New Brian Dean LaBraid 10-string

    It sounds just wonderful. The true test of an excellent mandolin to me is the upper range of notes ringing with little percussiveness.
    Jim

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  5. #4
    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: New Brian Dean LaBraid 10-string

    Wow! That is a beauty.
    Charley

    A bunch of stuff with four strings

  6. #5
    Purveyor of Sunshine sgarrity's Avatar
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    Default Re: New Brian Dean LaBraid 10-string

    That's a stunner!

  7. #6
    Registered User Eric F.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: New Brian Dean LaBraid 10-string

    Congratulations! That's a beauty. Brian's creations are magical.

  8. #7
    This Kid Needs Practice Bill Clements's Avatar
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    Default Re: New Brian Dean LaBraid 10-string

    Ken, you have a mandolin unlike any other in existence. It is uniquely beautiful and sonically marvelous! It is a tribute to your conceptual creativeness and also Brian Dean’s unquestioned mastery. Brian is a terrific gentleman and such a joy to deal with. Congratulations on your acquisition that will give you a lifetime of enjoyment.
    Have fun and thanks for sharing your good news.
    "Music is the only noise for which one is obliged to pay." ~ Alexander Dumas

  9. #8
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    Smile Re: New Brian Dean LaBraid 10-string

    I have a Brian Dean mandolin from 1995, and it is SWEET!! BB King had "Lucille". My Brian Dean I nicknamed "The Mistress" as I spend a lot of time with her and my wife really doesn't mind. Enjoy it!!!

  10. #9
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: New Brian Dean LaBraid 10-string

    I love the claro walnut both in looks and whatever tonal quality it offers. From the recording it sounds like Thomastik strings—is that so?
    Jim

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  11. #10
    Registered User Ken_P's Avatar
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    Default Re: New Brian Dean LaBraid 10-string

    Quote Originally Posted by frecky View Post
    I have a Brian Dean mandolin from 1995, and it is SWEET!! BB King had "Lucille". My Brian Dean I nicknamed "The Mistress" as I spend a lot of time with her and my wife really doesn't mind. Enjoy it!!!
    My wife is calling it "the other woman", so we're on very similar brainwaves there!

  12. #11
    Registered User Ken_P's Avatar
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    Default Re: New Brian Dean LaBraid 10-string

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    I love the claro walnut both in looks and whatever tonal quality it offers. From the recording it sounds like Thomastik strings—is that so?
    I didn't have much experience with any variety of walnut before this but I can't argue with the results. The way that came about, I was attempting to describe the kind of tone I was looking for and Brian suggested Claro walnut would be suitable. I figured that he knew a lot better than I did what would work and I would get a better result if I listened to what he had to say.

    Strings are Thomastik, of course. It's the alt-mandoline (mandola) set for the lower four courses and .010 plain steel on the E.

  13. #12
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    Default Re: New Brian Dean LaBraid 10-string

    Ken_P - I stand corrected, I got up the morning and thought my Brian Dean build date might be off. I just took a look at the label and she was built in 2005 (not 1995). She acts mature for her age though!

  14. #13

    Default Re: New Brian Dean LaBraid 10-string

    Wow....I have to look this guy up. (I spend a lot of time in Sydney.) Thanks for the pics and sound clip.

  15. #14
    Moderator JEStanek's Avatar
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    Default Re: New Brian Dean LaBraid 10-string

    Brian sure does build them well and pretty!

    Jamie
    There are two things to aim at in life: first, to get what you want; and, after that, to enjoy it. Only the wisest of mankind achieve the second. Logan Pearsall Smith, 1865 - 1946

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  16. #15
    Registered User Eric F.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: New Brian Dean LaBraid 10-string

    I see Brian's wait time is now about five years. Man, every time I go to his website I have to clean the drool off my keyboard.

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