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Thread: 3 Month Stiver Review

  1. #1
    Pittsburgh Bill
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    Default 3 Month Stiver Review

    After initiating a thread on Stiver mandolins when I ordered mine one year ago and now having had in my possession mine after nearly three months I thought a review was in order. I would like to do a sound sample but that will have to wait until I feel comfortable allowing one of our more technical savvy adult sons into our home or me into their home (Covid scared).
    First of all I am enamored with mine and find myself playing it several hours on most days. I had played several Stiver mandolins prior to owning mine and have always been impressed with Mr. Stiver's build quality, playability, oodles of volume, and clear even tone across and up and down the fret board (no disappointment even while playing 3rd position}.
    MINE: I believe it possesses in abundance all of the above qualities which I was hopeful for when requesting a build. I have had a few surprises. Sustain far exceeds my expectation. In retrospect I wish I had requested a 1 1/8 inch nut rather than the 1 1/16 nut I got, but I am becoming accustomed. It is, I think, ideal for most genres of music, though better choices are available for classical.
    What is different than the eleven mandolins I previously owned leading to my Stiver is how I attain the best tone with my amateur abilities. This mandolin likes a light fret hand and tone improves the harder I dig in with my pick hand. Previous mandolins I have owned would lose tone if I dug in TOO hard with my pick and fretting was not as effortless except for perhaps my Collings. I play a very limited amount of Bluegrass but have heard Stiver Mandolins described as "more bluegrass than bluegrass". I mostly play 40's / 50's classic country/ Honkey Tonk and some light rock and folk for which I find it ideal.
    As you can see in my Signature my MAS has ended with no desire to purchase additional mandolins except for a suppressed desire for a Phoenix Classical for those times of a desire to play classical.
    KUDOS TO MR. LOUIS STIVER (A GENTLEMAN AND A VERY SKILLED BUILDER OFFERING GREAT MANDOLINS AT A COST THAT DOES NOT REQUIRE A SECOND MORTGAGE ON YOUR HOME)
    Stiver A style (MAS has stopped here)
    Kentucky KM-950
    Keith Edward Coleman A style, oval hole Mandola
    Weber Gallatin A Mandola "D hole"
    Rogue 100A (current campfire tool)
    Cozart (unplugged emando silence for my usually tolerant wife)

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: 3 Month Stiver Review

    Thanks Bill, nice to hear the positive report on your build. Looking forward to a sound sample. Photos too. I've had a hankering to try one of his two-points.

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  5. #3
    Registered User GeoMandoAlex's Avatar
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    Default Re: 3 Month Stiver Review

    It's always good to hear when people find their forever mandolin. I have looked at Stiver mandolins, just have not pulled the trigger....yet. Glad to hear you enjoy your new mandolin. Thank you for the review.
    I can only play half as much as I want, because I only play half as much as I would like.

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  7. #4
    Registered User William Smith's Avatar
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    Default Re: 3 Month Stiver Review

    Lou is a GREAT builder and super nice guy! A load of my friends play Stivers around Western PA and South Western NY.

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  9. #5
    Registered User Billy Packard's Avatar
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    Default Re: 3 Month Stiver Review

    I've had my 1990 Stiver a year now and it is fabulous. I have joined the ranks of aficionados! It is my favorite too.

    Billy
    Billy Packard
    Gilchrist A3, 1993
    Stiver Fern, 1990
    Weber Fern, 2007
    Gibson F4 Hybrid #1, D. Harvey 2009
    Gibson 1923 A2
    Numerous wonderful guitars

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  11. #6
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    Default Re: 3 Month Stiver Review

    I just picked up a two point. The only two point he made with a torch and wire headstock. The back and sides were cut from a tree in my home county, which is also Mr. Stivers home county. I couldn’t be happier with the sound, playability, and workmanship of my new friend. I’m proud to own a Stiver mandolin.

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  13. #7
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    Default Re: 3 Month Stiver Review

    And Pittsburgh Bill: I thank you for your review. I’m glad you are enjoying your new mandolin. I realize this thread is about YOUR mandolin and not mine but mine just came this week and I’m a bit giddy.

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  15. #8
    Pittsburgh Bill
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    Default Re: 3 Month Stiver Review

    Quote Originally Posted by hogans hero View Post
    And Pittsburgh Bill: I thank you for your review. I’m glad you are enjoying your new mandolin. I realize this thread is about YOUR mandolin and not mine but mine just came this week and I’m a bit giddy.
    Not an issue. Would like to hear more about YOUR mandolin Tone, playability, e.t.c.
    Stiver A style (MAS has stopped here)
    Kentucky KM-950
    Keith Edward Coleman A style, oval hole Mandola
    Weber Gallatin A Mandola "D hole"
    Rogue 100A (current campfire tool)
    Cozart (unplugged emando silence for my usually tolerant wife)

  16. #9
    Pittsburgh Bill
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    Default Re: 3 Month Stiver Review

    Quote Originally Posted by Billy Packard View Post
    I've had my 1990 Stiver a year now and it is fabulous. I have joined the ranks of aficionados! It is my favorite too.

    Billy
    Your favorite is a nice compliment to your Stiver. From your signature I see it resides in good (great) company. Would be interesting to have you tell us how it stacks up against your Gilchrist. I have had the opportunity to play several high end mandolins but Gilchrists and Nuggets have eluded me.
    I think my Stiver can hold it's own with other high end mandolins I have played.
    Stiver A style (MAS has stopped here)
    Kentucky KM-950
    Keith Edward Coleman A style, oval hole Mandola
    Weber Gallatin A Mandola "D hole"
    Rogue 100A (current campfire tool)
    Cozart (unplugged emando silence for my usually tolerant wife)

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  18. #10

    Smile Re: 3 Month Stiver Review

    You talk quite a bit about tone but no mention of which plectrum you use. I find a Wegen pick of 2.00 will give fabulous tone so if it's tone that players put a high emphasis on then Wegen fits the bill. I have several and been using them for 15 years now. I can say without doubt that NOTHING else works for me. 8 each is a very small price to pay for what you get. If I pick up my 1.4 by mistake( I occassionally use it for guitar) I know right away. The 2.00 guage is the one for mandolin and guitar.

  19. #11

    Default Re: 3 Month Stiver Review

    I normally consume information off of this site, and the banjo and reso hangouts, and never post. However, after reading this particular thread, I got an account and decided to post for the first time. I bought a site-unseen, 1998 Stiver F model from Acoustic Music Works in Pittsburgh, in November 2020 because of the Stiver threads on the forum and the awesome people at Acoustic Music Works. Paid ~$4,400 + shipping and tax. I couldn't really go around and play lots of mandolins at the time because of the pandemic. Indeed, this is the only mandolin I have ever owned and really ever played. However, I am a stringed instrument (guitar, banjo, reso) collector: Collings OM2H, Dupont MD50B, Fraulini parlor, David Rouse Classical, Hauver 12 string, Beard Jerry Douglas Limited, National El Trovador, Stelling Golden Cross, etc. So, I know something about a well built instrument, although I do not own anything in the >$10k range....yet.

    I had no real interest in mandolin and bought it for my daughter to learn on and as an investment. I also loved Lou's story. The Stiver now sits next to my work computer, in my kitchen. I play it, off and on, at least an hour, every single day. My definition of fine instrument is that it will give you something different each day. A student model instrument just won't have the complexity that makes you want to play it. The Stiver ain't no student model. Everyday I pick it up, I get a little something else out of it. I have been playing music a long time but I will sometimes sit in a chair just playing chords holding the thing in different positions so I can hear different sounds--a spectacular instrument. My opinion is that I stole this mandolin from the nice people at Acoustic Music Works. The prices on Lou's mandolins are obscenely low....but I have never played a Dudenbostel, Nugget, or Gilchrist, or a Collings for that matter. So, I would love to hear from others who have played a lot of different mandolins about how Lou's mandolins compare to the >$10k builders. As soon as I get a chance, I am driving to Carter and Sons in Nashville to play some of these fine mandolins to see for myself.

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  21. #12

    Default Re: 3 Month Stiver Review

    I have played lots of different Wegen picks and they are great. But I haven't found anything yet to beat the BlueChip CT55.

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  23. #13

    Default Re: 3 Month Stiver Review

    Quote Originally Posted by Alan_Seals View Post
    I have played lots of different Wegen picks and they are great. But I haven't found anything yet to beat the BlueChip CT55.
    +1 on the BC CT55. A 'Thanks' for you on your first day. Welcome.
    "I play BG so that's what I can talk intelligently about." A line I loved and pirated from Mandoplumb

  24. #14
    Pittsburgh Bill
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    Default Re: 3 Month Stiver Review

    Allan Seals
    Good to hear from another satisfied owner of a Lou Stiver Mandolin. I have now had mine for a year now. I had a learning curve with the 1 1/16 nut but with a little time have come to prefer it. Was a little surprised at the nut when I first got it as all previous Stivers I played had a larger nut. Lou said his newer customers are asking for the smaller nut because Chris Thili prefers the smaller nut. Well, I assume people are influenced in ways I may never understand.
    Kudos to Acoustic Music Works. Pittsburgh is fortunate to have a brick and mortar store that is mandolin savvy. I did however, buy directly from Lou as I have gotten to know him over the last half dozen years or so and frequently pass his residence in my travels. I remain convinced that Lou’s mandolins are very underpriced when compared to other mandolins of the same quality.
    ENJOY!
    Stiver A style (MAS has stopped here)
    Kentucky KM-950
    Keith Edward Coleman A style, oval hole Mandola
    Weber Gallatin A Mandola "D hole"
    Rogue 100A (current campfire tool)
    Cozart (unplugged emando silence for my usually tolerant wife)

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