All custom builds, again. 3 with the ancient AK bridge Sitka, one Sitka top from the OR coast range I picked up through an old friend, and one build from the Sullivan Stash! What a dang honor to work with John Sullivan's material, and carry that torch! The first one of this run (#44) is the first one built with air dried maple (I think I'm turning a corner with air dried everything , as much as possible), and I put a Noble Fir bar on the bass side. #45 has Noble fir on both bars. Another tiny tweak in the varnish recipe, and carving the tone bars just a bit different. Came out screamin'! Very pleased!
I decided to up the A5 batches to 8. It was work. Very happy with the results! All custom wood selections, and neck shapes. All spoken for. All very assertive. Slight changes in the varnish recipe and the method of application. Rubner tuners and James tailpieces will now be standard. Both mighty fine! I'm keeping #43 from this run. I'm finally keeping one. Don't even try it. It won't happen.
Back to F5's! 3 1-pc tops with AK Sitka that was split in the 1930's, 1 1-pc AK Sitka top harvested by Bruce Harvie about 25 years ago, and one Adi top. Slight changes in body shape, all sugar maple necks, and some fancier inlays. This batch is all spoken for by Bruce Harvie, Corbin Smith, Dennis Benjamin, Nick Blechman and Evan Elkin. Thanks a bunch, fellas!
Meeting Mrs. Griffith
As it turns out, I'm a short drive from the only Loar signed A5 mandolin. The owner is one peach of a human! I was very fortunate to be able to spend a couple of days with her. I had just completed my first batch of A5's when this happened. That's my #30 next to her. Down the road I plan to replicate Mrs. G., but my list just exploded at the end of 2018, and I have a lot of work ahead. I'll carve out some time in the future to make this happen. What a gem! Loud, sweet tone, and very playable. I'm a lucky fella!
After building 26 F5's, I'm taking a little turn. A5's with tone bars. #26 is a custom build with Engelmann & a crazy piece of Big Leaf. #27 & #28 have the same Sitka from the previous batch. #29 & #30 have Sitka from an Alaskan bridge that was decommissioned in the 1930's, and it is the toughest spruce I've ever met (it is freakish). Another slight change in the varnish recipe. I changed my neck joint to a tapered dovetail, instead of the pinned "V" joint (or pinned, tapered mortise and tenon). I have a new logo on the headstock in MOP, and an abalone Fleur de Lis, inspired by the Griffith Loar. I'm ready to hear what this kids sound like! Looking at the 3rd weekend of October for that!
All 1-Piece Sitka tops from the same split block! 2 with X-Bracing, and 3 with Tone Bars. #24 & #25 have back, ribs and necks all from one piece of fiddleback maple that was originally intended to be a cello neck. Sticking with the 12" fretboard radius. Very slight change in neck pitch. We have another small change in the varnish recipe.
All Sitka tops, 4 1-piece backs (including 3 consecutive), slightly taller arching, slightly wider necks, taller ribs, all X-braced, a little twist in the spirit varnish recipe, an addition to the headstock inlay, and 12"radius on the fretboards.
All one piece tops and backs, X-braced, radiused necks and ebony neck stringers. Back slabs 11-13 and 14-15 are consecutive. The tops on 12 & 13 are siblings, as are 14 & 15.