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Thread: What was your best experience with a luthier? Your worst?

  1. #26

    Default Re: What was your best experience with a luthier? Your worst?

    Bobby Wintringham of San Juan Mandolins in Dolores, Colorado.....great communication and easily reached via email or phone, great work with rapid turnaround and the most reasonable rates I have ever paid!

  2. #27
    Registered User peterleyenaar's Avatar
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    Default Re: What was your best experience with a luthier? Your worst?

    Only good experiences, Michael Heiden, Peter Sawchyn, Julian Tubb, excellent people and craftsmen.

  3. #28
    Mandolin Botherer Shelagh Moore's Avatar
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    Default Re: What was your best experience with a luthier? Your worst?

    I've had terrific dealings with Gary Nava. Detailed discussions about my needs, choice of woods (including photographs of different timber sets once I'd chosen the woods), bridge design, tuners, choice of decoration, inlay etc. Full photo diary and updates of every stage of building. Excellent communication throughout. Gary even built a sturdy wooden box to deliver the mandolin in. Then he refinished the top for me after a banjo playing friend scoured it with his long nails. I now have a beautifully-made, individual and brilliant sounding mandolin made to my specifications. Great experience altogether!

  4. #29
    Registered User Bigtuna's Avatar
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    Default Re: What was your best experience with a luthier? Your worst?

    As Baiyogjie said, if you do good business with me you have a repeat customer. So, there is a luthier that I won't even speak of these days due to what he did to my mandolin. The binding was coming off the back and I had asked him to fix it the best he could. It being a slightly beat up mandolin, I told him it didn't have to be perfect. So, when I get it back there is what looks like 5 minute epoxy just smeared in between the binding and the back and I mean all over the back. Its as if he didn't even try to clean it up, not to mention fix it right. He will never get a hold of another one of my instruments again. I don't know what he was thinking. Everyone who picks up my mandolin and sees the back usually asks what happened and the story is told and he loses yet another potential customer. I guess me saying it didn't have to be perfect meant that he didn't have to even try.

    And for the good: Skip Kelley did a great job on my frets and had it back to me in no time. To boot I also got to play one of his latest mandolins at the time. All in all a great guy.
    "They say the ocean, she is a woman, who waits for her man to come home." M.Houser

  5. #30
    Registered User Lukas J's Avatar
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    Default Re: What was your best experience with a luthier? Your worst?

    I haven't had too many direct experiences with luthiers, but special thanks to the Webers for a great tour of their shop, and their flexibility in providing such a wide range of customizations for me to choose from for my Special Edition, which I have recently ordered. I plan on this SE being my life-partner, but should I ever want another mandolin down the road, I know who I will be doing business with.
    -2011 Weber Special Edition "Molly"
    -2003 Gibson WM-45 Guitar "Woody"
    -1932 Ludwig Columbia Tenor Banjo "Wildwood Flower"
    -Yamaha YBS-52 Baritone Sax "Evelyn"

    ***GO COUGS!!!***

  6. #31
    Registered User Cheryl Watson's Avatar
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    Default Re: What was your best experience with a luthier? Your worst?

    I've been lucky working with luthiers. Mario Proulx (guitar), Will Kimble, Lloyd LaPlant (I went pretty broke at one time and had to sell that gorgeous F5), Jim Worland (guitar), Randy Lucas (guitar) and Brooks Masten (clawhammer banjo) have all been absolutely great to work with; communication was very good and the instruments were wonderful. My Williamson mandolin was custom made for someone else, I am the 2nd owner, but Lon refretted it and set it up perfectly for me.

    My only bad experience was years ago, I went with a relatively unknown luthier for a little parlor guitar (and honestly, I cannot remember his name) and it arrived broken, snapped at the neck and it did not look to be made very well at all. He shipped it to me without wanting a penny down so I lost nothing.
    Last edited by Cheryl Watson; May-23-2011 at 9:35pm.

  7. #32
    Registered User Steve Lavelle's Avatar
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    Default Re: What was your best experience with a luthier? Your worst?

    I'm lucky enough to have Frank Ford at Gryphon Stringed Instruments as my local luthier. He has refretted my Flatiron with stainless frets and installed an active bridge in it for me. A very low key guy who seems to have an endless depth of knowledge about mandolins and mandolin repair. He started www.frets.net back when the internet was still crude and has expanded it for years, making it a great online reference all that is fretted. He also set up my Martin Shenandoah for me and did a beautiful job. He isn't the cheapest, but I never worry about what kind of job he's going to do.

  8. #33
    Registered User Steve Lavelle's Avatar
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    Default Re: What was your best experience with a luthier? Your worst?

    Sorry Frank's site is www.Frets.com!

  9. #34

    Default Re: What was your best experience with a luthier? Your worst?

    My best experience, by far, has been working with Bob Altman, working on a custom build.... I have worked with others including John Monteleone, and Bob was absolutely increadible.
    If you EVER want a mandolin built by a master, and end up with something YOU want.... he's the guy.

    JohnD
    John D

  10. #35
    fretboard roamer Paul Merlo's Avatar
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    Default Re: What was your best experience with a luthier? Your worst?

    I bought an old Harmony Tenor Guitar ('66 I think) for kicks last fall and took it to a guy that has a repair bench in a chain guitar store to have it restrung and checked out. I gave him the strings (Tenor guitar set from D'addario that clearly says tune it CGDA) and he says "ok you want it strung like the high 4 strings on a guitar, DGBE?" That confused me because I was sure I've read here on the Cafe that a tenor guitar goes CGDA, but I said "No, I'd like it CGDA because that's what tenor guitars are typically tuned to." Then he says, "well tenor guitars are supposed to be DGBE." So I asked him again to please just string it CGDA like it said on the string pack and felt like I could've just done it myself and saved the ten bucks because I didn't really like what he had to say about how to fix a bowed neck on my Harmony Master archtop guitar either.

    On the other hand, there's a guy named Mike Koontz in Ferndale, MI that came highly recommended. I think he primarily works on electric guitars but set up my little Alvarez A-100 mandolin so it plays like butter.

    Also, I'm a few steps into my Custom Vintage A, compliments of Bruce Weber and the Mandolin Cafe, and that's about as fun as it gets. I know it takes a long time to build one, and the anticipation of the next email can be almost as much fun as the progress updates.

    It reminds me of a story about the famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright and his client Melvin Maxwell Smith. Smith commissioned Wright to design a house and asked Wright how long it would take to get the plans. Wright answered "When the spirit moves me." So months go by and no plans yet. The Smiths didn't want to be pushy or risk compromising the master architect's design so they waited patiently until one day when they met another client of Wright's who had house nearby. When they introduced themselves, the other client became very excited because he had their house plans and been trying to locate them for quite some time. As it turns out, Wright's office simply lost their address and had no way to contact them so he sent them to this guy hoping he could find the Smiths and deliver their plans. Now, I know that's not the case with me, but it's a good story anyway...
    Paul

    Weber Custom Vintage A
    Alvarez A-100
    '82 Fender Bullet (USA)
    '55 Harmony Master Model
    '62 Harmony Tenor Guitar

  11. #36

    Default Re: What was your best experience with a luthier? Your worst?

    My best recent experience was having Sim Daley refret my Gilchrist and replace the bridge. He did a great job, was fairly reasonably priced, and best of all didn't take forever to do it! He makes great mandolins top. While there one of my students ordered one.

    My worst was years ago, on another refret of my Gilchrist, when I went to pick it up I saw the guy (I won't say who) had knocked finish off the top directly under the bridge. He must have slipped with his file... aaaagh!
    Gerald Jones

    Acoustic Music Camp August 6-8, 2015 in Arlington Texas
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    For more info: http://AcousticMusicCamp.com

  12. #37
    Tony Bare
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    Default Re: What was your best experience with a luthier? Your worst?

    Now is a good chance to put in a plug for a good friend and builder of fine guitars and mandolins, Mark Grisham. I have an old Cort that is my "beater" guitar. I take it to places that I don't want to take my Martin, and it has a fishman pickup and eq that sounds great plugged in. The frets were worn down and the buzzing was bad. I thought that it needed a total refret so I took it to a festival last weekend that I knew Mark would be attending. I live in central Ga. and he lives on the coast so he is 150 miles away from me. I asked him to take it with him and ship it or I could drive to pick it up. He went to his truck, pulled out a tool box, and worked on it at his camper. After some measureing he said that all it needed was a fret dressing,leveling and crowning. He did an excellent job, charged a reasonable price, and "swapped lies" with me while he worked. An altogether pleasant experience.
    Tony Bare

  13. #38
    Registered User barry k's Avatar
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    Default Re: What was your best experience with a luthier? Your worst?

    His last name is Gresham.

  14. #39
    Tony Bare
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    Default Re: What was your best experience with a luthier? Your worst?

    I spelled it wrong but He did a good job on my guitar. I like hiis work, his friendship and have spent a bunch of nights makin music with him. Come to think about it I have picked a few with you too.
    Tony Bare

  15. #40
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    Default Re: What was your best experience with a luthier? Your worst?

    [QUOTE=merlopj;930194]Also, I'm a few steps into my Custom Vintage A, compliments of Bruce Weber and the Mandolin Cafe, and that's about as fun as it gets. I know it takes a long time to build one, and the anticipation of the next email can be almost as much fun as the progress updates.

    Paul,
    My experiences with Bruce have been wonderful. He got more excited about the build than I did. The wait will be worth it, my Vintage A is a great instrument. I plan on making a trip to there real soon. I will have them give my A and Yellowstone F a good looking over. Hopefully I will get to see yours.

  16. #41

    Smile Re: What was your best experience with a luthier? Your worst?

    Well, I haven't dealt with too many luthiers, but I had a good experience with John Hamlett (sunburst). I suspect he went a bit above and beyond with a particularly aggravating setup job.

    The worst was not too bad really, I just had a local music store replace the nut on my Mandobird. This was before I started learning how to do these things myself.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    The nut they put on is pictured on the right, next to the one I just made myself... it's almost finished here. It was even worse than it looks- the action was sky high as well. It's like they didn't even try.

  17. #42
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    Default Re: What was your best experience with a luthier? Your worst?

    I've had numerous great experiences in visiting various folks. For work I've had done - mostly long ago - I had several things done by one fellow whose work was good, but would usually scratch my guitars. Even new shiny expensive ones. This was pretty much unacceptable.

    I know a fellow who had work done elsewhere - that may not happen as much after recent experiences - and ended up making an online fuss, complaining about the brand. Had buzz problems and the like. But loved the brace rework done on his guitar. He'd had frets leveled, new saddle, and braces thinned. The shops were well known, so I figured there would be something wrong with the box. When I looked at it, the top was starting to lift up just a little - weakened braces. Too late to help there. The frets were not completely level. The mysterious buzz was one of the most sloppy fast saddles I've seen. Irregular bottom, and the top square rather than round (where the buzz came from). These were well known shops!!! I was appalled. I fixed everything I could that was necessary for the buzz removal. This fellow doesn't have a lot of money, and they charged him full freight on all this "work."

    My best experience is with Kelvin Scott, the violinmaker in Knoxville, who is always generous with his time and energy. No secrets with him. One of the finest craftsmen I've watched work, ever.
    Stephen Perry
    www.giannaviolins.com - Primarily violin family
    mandovoodoo.com - Acoustic blueprinting
    South Side Chicagoland

  18. #43

    Default Re: What was your best experience with a luthier? Your worst?

    Skip of ' Grey Eagle" mandolins, could call him anytime, always friendly + makes great mandolins & really taking off, also did some changes in midstream that I requested w/ a great attitude.
    keith madison

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