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Thread: Thinking about switching to Rigel....thoughts?

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    Default Thinking about switching to Rigel....thoughts?

    I currently play a Gibby red spruce Varnished Fern. I am no longer really interested in playing bluegrass as a "major" and am thinking about getting a more versatile "swiss army knife" mando. I like the fact that Rigels plug in nicely. Do any of you have, or know of, Rigels that really excel in the chop factor and might pass as good enough BG mandolins, while yet fulfilling a more utility niche? I played one that Jimmy Gaudreau had that would do it, but that was ten years ago, and it was his personal mando for sale. My concern is that I won't keep the Gibson. I'll sell to get it's replacement, as I am a working musician.

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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Thinking about switching to Rigel....thoughts?

    If you sell it you may have to change your forum name.

    Rigels are generally nice and well made. I know that Mr. Rangell is still building but he is a smaller shop these days than he was a few years back. I am sure that he can build you what you want or else you have to find an older used one.

    My favorite Rigel was the Q95 -- oval hole A with the little tail -- but I prob have much different tastes from yours.
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    Default Re: Thinking about switching to Rigel....thoughts?

    Playes one that Josh Crowe had at a Raymond Fairchild show years ago .Didnt like it at all sounded thin to mee but most of all HATED the look

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    Registered User chasray's Avatar
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    Default Re: Thinking about switching to Rigel....thoughts?

    Heck, you could play classical music with a Gibby red spruce varnished fern!

    I think most Rigel's are red spruce with sugar maple back. I have an A+ Deluxe that sounds great and has a clear tone. Plugged in sounds surprisingly good. Plays easy, but I bet the neck will have a different feel than what you play now.

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    Quietly Making Noise Dave Greenspoon's Avatar
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    Default Re: Thinking about switching to Rigel....thoughts?

    My Rigel A has an Engleman top. Some come in Adi. I understand that access to the VT sugar maple was running difficult toward the run of the shop before Langdell restructured. I have a nice rounded neck on the A; I prefer the Loar style neck I have seen (and played) on other Rigels, like the R-100. If you are buying used, you won't have options. If you are ordering new, then you're a fortunate person.

    I won't claim that my Rigel A natural will beat out mandos that cost many thousands more. I will say that plenty of pro players have been genuinely complimentary of its tone. Statman in particular was extremely complimentary. I will say further that it has held its own with aplomb with big name F-5's that cost 5 times or more the cost of my Rigel at full retail.

    While the A's are clearly voiced with a nod to the b-g world, they are extremely versatile. I've played klezmer, blues, Celtic/Irish, folk, rock, and classical on this axe, and it takes on all styles of music with a style all its own. While there are certainly some great small shop F-styles I'd love to have (Grey Eagle, Stiver, Rattlesnake), I would not for a moment consider parting with my Rigel to make it happen. Only once was I almost tempted, and that was for a Rigel R-100, years ago, and fortunately I didn't have the cash needed to make it happen.

    You might want to check in with other Rigelistas in the Rigel social group for some more praise. Yes, we've all drunk the kool-aid. You won't hear us bemoan the non-traditional radiused sides; after all, who needs an armrest on a Rigel? No-one. The headstock is inspired; imagine your Fern with both scrolls off, and that's what you have. But mostly, we love the sound, the incredible playability, and the amazing flexibility of the line. You simply cannot go wrong with a Rigel.
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    Registered User Chip Booth's Avatar
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    Default Re: Thinking about switching to Rigel....thoughts?

    While I can't speak for your specific fern, a Gibson style F hole instrument is about as versatile as any mandolin I can imagine.

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    Registered User doc holiday's Avatar
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    Default Re: Thinking about switching to Rigel....thoughts?

    What Chip B said......the instrument has no limitations.........Loar-era style F5 mandolins were conceived of, built, & played music before the Bill Monroe band (love them as I do...) of the mid '40s...... Never is long time....but I wouldn't trade a varnish Fern for Rigel...or a Phoenix for that matter...
    Heck John Reischman is playing plugged in now ...& he hasn't changed instruments..

    Jim G - Rangell ? = Peter Langdell ??

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    Default Re: Thinking about switching to Rigel....thoughts?

    I would never trade, but I have considered trade plus cash, or outright sale. My wife advises me that I will probably never own another one of these, and she's probably right. On the flipside, mandolins are tools to me. As a past Eastman endorser, I made the same little bit of money with those, and others. I am also unsure whether or not I really want to dig into a 5 figure mando to put a pickup in it. Good problem to have, I guess.

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    Registered User doc holiday's Avatar
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    Default Re: Thinking about switching to Rigel....thoughts?

    FM, John R has the bridge saddle p.u. I believe....and the plug for the wire is attached to the underside of the finger-rest...no need to bore the endpin....

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    Default Re: Thinking about switching to Rigel....thoughts?

    It would be very hard to find a more versatile instrument than you already have. The Rigel mandolins a fine mandolin, but they are a different thing. I would suggest playing one before making a decision. They certainly are not apples for apples. Your current mandolin is capable of doing about anything you wish to do. No matter what instrument, the main thing that needs changing is your method or style of playing. This may require a bit of technique overhaul and a bit of a learning curve to accomplish what you want. That will be more important than changing mandolins.

    However, if you have MAS and just want something different, that is another issue. I might suggest keeping your varnish Fern if you can as you go through the process. You may well find in a little bit of time that it may be what you are looking for.
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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Thinking about switching to Rigel....thoughts?

    Quote Originally Posted by doc holiday View Post
    Jim G - Rangell ? = Peter Langdell ??
    Sorry, I type way too fast. I used to know an excellent mandolinist named Paul Rangell but I should have spelled Pete L's name correctly. Sorry!!
    Jim

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    Registered User John Flynn's Avatar
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    Default Re: Thinking about switching to Rigel....thoughts?

    I have had a Rigel A+ Deluxe as more or less my main mandolin for about 10 years. Here are the pluses, to my mind:
    > Playability is very, very good - I've never played a neck I like better.
    > The tone and volume across the fretboard is very even from the top to the bottom of the range.
    > The pickup is pretty much as good as a pizeo pickup can get. I have two preamps I have used with it, but I never bother to use them any more. I think it sounds as good or better without them.
    > It is very rugged, takes a lot of hard use - I don't tend to worry about temperature/humidity/bumps as much as I would more conventionally built mandolins.
    > It stays in tune very well.
    > It looks cool. Of course, that is in the eye of the beholder, traditionalists don't like it. But then if traditionalists always carried the day, we would still only play bowlbacks. I think the design is work of art, a great balance of form and function.

    Some issues:
    > The chop is just OK, although it has improved over time, and with a move to heavy gauge strings. I don't care much about this, as I'm not a "grasser."
    > I know this is really subjective, but I've never thought the tone had great "character." I can't explain it further. It is kind of a "generic" tone. But that doesn't seem to matter much playing with a big ensemble. If play solo, or just with one guitar back-up or very close miked through a good sound system, I switch to my Old Wave Oval A.

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    Registered User Perry's Avatar
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    Default Re: Thinking about switching to Rigel....thoughts?

    Quote Originally Posted by fernmando View Post
    "swiss army knife" mando.
    swiss army knife mandolin = Mix A5 with an internally mounted Schertler

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    Default Re: Thinking about switching to Rigel....thoughts?

    It sounds to me like you already have a Swiss Army knife and are trading for one that only might be. Unless you're after a radically different timbre like a bowlback or electric sound, why change?
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    Default Re: Thinking about switching to Rigel....thoughts?

    I read somewhere that Gaudreau really liked his plugged in, and have gathered that Rigels are a better choice when plugging in. I am showing up at more and more gigs where everyone else is plugged in, and it's getting more difficult to play with them.

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    Default Re: Thinking about switching to Rigel....thoughts?

    Quote Originally Posted by fernmando View Post
    I would never trade, but I have considered trade plus cash, or outright sale. My wife advises me that I will probably never own another one of these, and she's probably right. On the flipside, mandolins are tools to me. As a past Eastman endorser, I made the same little bit of money with those, and others. I am also unsure whether or not I really want to dig into a 5 figure mando to put a pickup in it. Good problem to have, I guess.
    You don't have to damage your Fern to install a great pickup. Use a Tapastring endpin jack that replaces your current endpin with no drilling http://www.pick-uptheworld.com/VintageSystem.htm

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    Default Re: Thinking about switching to Rigel....thoughts?

    Rigels are fairly renowned as acoustic electrics go, but I think the general feeling here is that you may suffer some regrets selling your Fern to get it. Have you maybe considered another AE that's a bit more affordable, such as Godin or Ovation? For a lot less money you could add some top-rate electronics to the Fern without permanently changing it. I can't speak for the others, but I start to worry when someone considers abandoning a fine, established instrument for what is a very specialized tool that might not really hit the mark, no matter what Gaudreau thinks of his. Just friendly concern for a fellow player is all.

    If you're bent on doing it, then go ahead; the Rigels are very good mandolins. But I doubt you'll re-sell the Rigel for enough to buy the Fern back.
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    Default Re: Thinking about switching to Rigel....thoughts?

    Keep your Fern you will be back to bluegrass.You are a very good pro level picker and can sound good on anything you mase the Eastman 615 sound great . If you have to play plugged in anything that plays good wiil do .any mandolin feom a Rouge to A Gibson plugged in sounds plugged in. And if im not mistaken dont you have one of Johnny Rushings Guitars? I have one of his Poor Boy specials that i like a bunch. And once again dont forget Bluegrass you are too good

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    Ben Beran Dfyngravity's Avatar
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    Default Re: Thinking about switching to Rigel....thoughts?

    Quote Originally Posted by fernmando View Post
    I currently play a Gibby red spruce Varnished Fern. I am no longer really interested in playing bluegrass as a "major" and am thinking about getting a more versatile "swiss army knife" mando. I like the fact that Rigels plug in nicely. Do any of you have, or know of, Rigels that really excel in the chop factor and might pass as good enough BG mandolins, while yet fulfilling a more utility niche? I played one that Jimmy Gaudreau had that would do it, but that was ten years ago, and it was his personal mando for sale. My concern is that I won't keep the Gibson. I'll sell to get it's replacement, as I am a working musician.
    Englemann topped Grey Eagle two-pointer. It will stomp when you need it to, but have just that incredible Englemann tone. Probably the most versatile mandolin you will ever play.

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    Notary Sojac Paul Kotapish's Avatar
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    Default Re: Thinking about switching to Rigel....thoughts?

    Played a great Mix carbon-fiber F style recently that would be terrific for anything--bluegrass included--and is ready to plug-and-play for anything short of loud rock volumes. Has the added advantage of being virtually weather proof. Very tempting.

    NFI, but check out the classifieds.
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