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Thread: Ellis Through the Years

  1. #1

    Default Ellis Through the Years

    Hey Guys,

    I see there is a 2011 Lefty Ellis A5 Special in the classifieds. As a lefty player always looking for used left handed high end instruments, this is intriguing.

    I know Ellis' reputation today. Anyone have experience with instruments circa 2011? I am sure build quality was excellent, but thoughts on changes in finish, woods, specs, design, etc over the years?

    Cheers!

    Brian

  2. #2
    Registered User doc holiday's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ellis Through the Years

    Brian, Tom made this mandolin for me after I paid him a visit in Austin in 2010. I believe he started making the A5 around '08/09. I was in the market for a '30s Dreadnaught, so i sold my left Heiden F (also unique). The Ellis A5 is every bit as good as that one was. Beautiful woods, varnish finish, Waverly tuners. Not much change AFAIK. Pava K was working with Tom even then...& she carved the neck. Later on, I bought a plain James tailpiece and Weldon Lister engraved it. On my first visit, Tom was showing us his personal instruments, among them a blackface Gibson F4 with Handel tuners & the double flowerpot inlay. When I ordered the mandolin, I asked Tom if he'd ever done a double flowerpot. He hadn't....so he cut 3 sets and used the nicest one on this mandolin. I sold it to a lefty friend when i cut a tendon in my fretting hand and gave up mandolin for the guitar & my quest for vintage Martin guitars was growing. It's a killer mandolin and a one-of-a kind for sure.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Ellis Through the Years

    Gorgeous mandolin...glad I'm not a lefty

    Len B.
    Clearwater, FL

  4. #4
    Registered User liestman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ellis Through the Years

    In my somewhat limited experience, Ellis mandolins, F or A, are very consistent in every aspect since at least 2010 if not earlier. The exception I suppose would be the "Tradition" models that he has made that are voiced differently but no doubt superbly built and finished. I would think that lefty would be amazing.
    John Liestman -
    Eye new ewe wood lye kit!

  5. #5
    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Ellis Through the Years

    If you are serious about getting a high end left handed mandolin, I would jump on this one. Just saying.

    NFI
    Charley

    A bunch of stuff with four strings

  6. #6

    Default Re: Ellis Through the Years

    Quote Originally Posted by doc holiday View Post
    Brian, Tom made this mandolin for me after I paid him a visit in Austin in 2010. I believe he started making the A5 around '08/09. I was in the market for a '30s Dreadnaught, so i sold my left Heiden F (also unique). The Ellis A5 is every bit as good as that one was. Beautiful woods, varnish finish, Waverly tuners. Not much change AFAIK. Pava K was working with Tom even then...& she carved the neck. Later on, I bought a plain James tailpiece and Weldon Lister engraved it. On my first visit, Tom was showing us his personal instruments, among them a blackface Gibson F4 with Handel tuners & the double flowerpot inlay. When I ordered the mandolin, I asked Tom if he'd ever done a double flowerpot. He hadn't....so he cut 3 sets and used the nicest one on this mandolin. I sold it to a lefty friend when i cut a tendon in my fretting hand and gave up mandolin for the guitar & my quest for vintage Martin guitars was growing. It's a killer mandolin and a one-of-a kind for sure.

    Thank you so much for comments, I loved hearing the history.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Ellis Through the Years

    I purchased it!

    Anyone want to buy a lefty D28, LSL bad bone, or Fender Princeton special edition?! :-D

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  9. #8
    AKA Billgrass
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    Default Re: Ellis Through the Years

    Glad you got it. Iíve been fortunate to caretake 3 Ellis (2 Fs and an A). Iíve settled on my forever Mando: 224 from 2010. It is as good or better than any Nugget, RD, Gil, or even the one Loar Iíve been fortunate to play.

  10. #9
    Registered User Louise NM's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ellis Through the Years

    Starrbri, if that tailpiece is too frilly for you, I'll be happy to help you rehome it.

  11. #10
    Registered User doc holiday's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ellis Through the Years

    Quote Originally Posted by Louise NM View Post
    Starrbri, if that tailpiece is too frilly for you, I'll be happy to help you rehome it.
    From Weldon Lister's FB page: "Fine Hand Engraving.
    As of October 1st, 2019 I’ll no longer be accepting engraving commissions"
    .....

  12. #11
    Registered User Timbofood's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ellis Through the Years

    Doc, didn’t you post some pictures of that when you got it? If it’s the one I remember it is a stunning piece of work!!
    I’m always sad when I hear about someone “not accepting more work” postings. So many fine craftsmen/women/people are getting to an age where they can (or must) retire. I understand the physical demands of these technically and artistic labors of love, I can’t do things I used to but, very few of my projects were as physically demanding as carving a top, or engraving. I can still cook!
    Timothy F. Lewis
    "If brains was lard, that boy couldn't grease a very big skillet" J.D. Clampett

  13. #12
    Playing on the porch
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    Default Re: Ellis Through the Years

    I have had the opportunity to play perhaps a half dozen Ellis mandolins over the years and dearly love their voice. I also admire the extraordinary care and beauty that goes into those instruments. I have traveled to their shop multiple times and really enjoy their kindness and professionalism. Tom, Pava and the rest of the team are incredibly warm, decent people who love and have mastered their craft. It may be obvious , but after my first in-person meeting with Tom, I did order an F5 Special. I am hopeful that it will come home with me later this year. I am happy for anyone who brings an Ellis mandolin into their life. Congratulations!
    ---
    2017 Eastman MD515 mandolin
    1928 Roth (Amati) violin
    1907 Foltz (Strad) violin
    20

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  15. #13

    Default Re: Ellis Through the Years

    Quote Originally Posted by doc holiday View Post
    From Weldon Lister's FB page: "Fine Hand Engraving.
    As of October 1st, 2019 I’ll no longer be accepting engraving commissions"
    .....
    Weldon just engraved a tailpiece for me a few months ago....he's still at it.
    Chris from Tucson
    2007 Heiden Artist F5 #F102
    2000 Red Diamond A5 #124
    1919 Gibson A3 (found on eBay for $15!!)
    2022 Austin Clark Octave (on order!)
    2016 Mann Octave OSEM

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  17. #14
    Registered User doc holiday's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ellis Through the Years

    Quote Originally Posted by Timbofood View Post
    Doc, didnít you post some pictures of that when you got it? If itís the one I remember it is a stunning piece of work!!
    Iím always sad when I hear about someone ďnot accepting more workĒ postings. So many fine craftsmen/women/people are getting to an age where they can (or must) retire. I understand the physical demands of these technically and artistic labors of love, I canít do things I used to but, very few of my projects were as physically demanding as carving a top, or engraving. I can still cook!
    Tim I posted photos both of the mandolin when new, & the raw engraved tailpiece in the forum Ellis "Social Group." https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/g...=grouppictures
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

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    Last edited by doc holiday; Oct-13-2021 at 7:45pm.

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