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Thread: Difference in Custom and Base

  1. #1

    Default Difference in Custom and Base

    I have been looking at different builders and some have base models and custom models. I have spoken to several and they mostly say that the customs are more embellished. Is that the main difference or is there something structurally different that would make the custom sound different or better?

  2. #2
    Purveyor of Sunshine sgarrity's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    San Diego, CA

    Default Re: Difference in Custom and Base

    Best person to ask is the builder. Wood choice may be different. Finish might be different.

  3. #3
    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Outer Spiral Arm, of Galaxy, NW Oregon.

    Default Re: Difference in Custom and Base

    Some times a company simplifies the build without binding and fancy inlays .. such as the Gibson A juniors ..
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  4. #4
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Rochester NY 14610

    Default Re: Difference in Custom and Base

    Usually the differences are more figured woods, additional inlay work, perhaps more time applying the finish, polishing etc. Also, remember that "custom" often means incorporating individual details for a particular customer –– e.g. I had Bernie Lehmann put my initials on the fanned-fret instrument he built for me. (They're affixed in such a way that a future owner could remove them, rather than being inlaid, so if any of you want to buy it after I kick the bucket, you can "de-monogram" it.)

    If you have a luthier build a mandolin "just for you," you can have it embellished to your taste -- consistent with his/her construction methods. You should be aware that gold sparkles and a fuchsia sunburst may affect resale value.
    Allen Hopkins
    Gibsn: '54 F5 3pt F2 A-N Custm K1 m'cello
    Natl Triolian Dobro mando
    Victoria b-back Merrill alumnm b-back
    H-O mandolinetto
    Stradolin Vega banjolin
    Sobell'dola Washburn b-back'dola
    Eastmn: 615'dola 805 m'cello
    Flatiron 3K OM

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  6. #5
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Brooklyn, NY, USA

    Default Re: Difference in Custom and Base

    I think that any good builder will make a very satisfactory base model. I think the idea of having something made exactly the way you want it and that it will be unique is very appealing to many people. Depending on the choices made there may be a sound difference that is tailored to the buyers preference or there may be little to no difference. If in talking to a builder you say that you like a particular sound or you like a particular mandolin but would prefer it to be darker or brighter etc., they may be able to accommodate you.

  7. #6
    Be Wild Zach Wilson's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2015
    Kent, Washington

    Default Re: Difference in Custom and Base

    I've only commissioned one build and it was for my Flat top.

    Mine was considered "custom" when I asked for upgrades from his base model... i.e. Rubner tuners with black buttons, a Special "Red Valley" tail piece, and Mahogany back and sides.

    Other choices may be a radius fretboard, different top woods or stains, etc.

    The upgrades for my build required more work and added to the price. But, in the end I got the exact mandolin I had been dreaming about. I still love it today!

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