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Thread: NMD Stanley A5 #68

  1. #1

    Default NMD Stanley A5 #68

    I actually received Stanley A5 #68 a couple weeks ago and have been getting to know it. The label is signed October 31, 2013, so it's 8 years old today. I guess Chris Stanley decided an orange/pumpkin colored mandolin should be dated on Halloween.

    It has many characteristics of the Griffith A5 Loar: the larger A oval body shape, the forward shifted bridge along with the forward shifted and angled ff holes, the bridge sits in front of the peak of the arch on the top. While it looks a bit like an odd duck, those things and the way he carved and braced it certainly give it The Tone to my ear. A couple people I pick with think it's something very special. After hearing it from the other side last night, I agree. It's a stout, powerful, mandolin with some extra sauce to the tone.

    I've owned another Stanley A5 (now owned by Wayne Benson) and a Stanley F5. Those were both earlier builds, and Chris certainly got more things right on this one to my eye and ear.

    The original owner ordered it with the finest woods and hardware (Waverly tuners & James tailpiece), but with the most simple finish and appointments (no inlay, no fretboard dots). I'll post some pics of it later.

    I'll eventually get some bigger EVO frets installed like those on my Heiden A5 so it plays more like what I'm used to, but I can live with it like it is until I wear these tiny frets out.

    Too bad Chris isn't building any longer. Glad to I had the chance to get this one.

    Monroe tunes sound especially right on it. A little Old Dangerfield.

    https://youtu.be/wKcBY9zCBHY

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  3. #2
    bird and mando geek Rob Fowler's Avatar
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    Default Re: NMD Stanley A5 #68

    That axe sounds awesome, Don! Congrats! Probably gonna have to get rid of that Duff now, ehh!? ����

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    Purveyor of Sunshine sgarrity's Avatar
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    Default Re: NMD Stanley A5 #68

    Nice score Don. Sounds great!

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  7. #4

    Default Re: NMD Stanley A5 #68

    Thanks Rob, the Duff was already gone. Thanks, Shaun!
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    Registered User Frankdolin's Avatar
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    Default Re: NMD Stanley A5 #68

    That's great Don, congrats! To me it has that BG sound. Dry, and perfect, nasty breakup in tone that just sounds badass.

  10. #6
    Registered User Russ Jordan's Avatar
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    Default Re: NMD Stanley A5 #68

    Yessir—great snag!!
    Russ Jordan

  11. #7

    Default Re: NMD Stanley A5 #68

    Thanks Frank and Russ. I'll have to make a video showing its sweet side. I think it was distorting the camera mic. Here's a couple photos. The color reminds me of a violin-type orange.

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  13. #8
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    Default Re: NMD Stanley A5 #68

    Hey Don, the Stanley sounds great as is, canít imagine with a good mic or better yet, in person. Maybe somedayÖ! The wood on the back is beautiful. Enjoy. Larry

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    Registered User bbcee's Avatar
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    Default Re: NMD Stanley A5 #68

    That is a righteous-sounding mando, Don! Great score, looks amazing and sounds like a good companion to your Heiden.

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    Default Re: NMD Stanley A5 #68

    What a nice piece; so glad you got it, Don!

    It looks like Chris made a fraternal twin to #62, with the plain fretboard and point at the end, narrow f-holes, top bound, black tuner buttons, and pointed back of peghead veneer. Yes, the idea was to get close to the Griffith A5 in sound and with simple appointments. A previous owner here in VA had #68 for sale a few years back (decided i had my hands full with #62} and am happy it found its way to you in NM.

    So, tell me how #68 compares tone-wise to the other Stanley A you had before. (considered buying that one from Don Julin in 2011 but #62 was already on order) #68 simply is beautiful in every way and the wood is incredible; what an elegant mandolin. Would love to hear the story behind it!
    Last edited by dan in va; Nov-02-2021 at 10:26am.

  16. #11
    Registered User Mark Seale's Avatar
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    Default Re: NMD Stanley A5 #68

    Good lord that's a good one!

  17. #12

    Default Re: NMD Stanley A5 #68

    That Stanley sounds fine. Good picking too, Don.
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  18. #13
    Registered User Darwin Gaston's Avatar
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    Default Re: NMD Stanley A5 #68

    Congratulations Don!! That Stanley A5 sounds great and the wood on the back of that mandolin is absolutely beautiful. It doesn’t get any better than that my friend. Thanks for sharing the pics of your Stanley A5 #68.
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  19. #14

    Default Re: NMD Stanley A5 #68

    Thanks, Darwin, Rich, bbcee, and Larry. Mark, yes, that was my response too once I started playing it.

    Dan, I think Chris really had it dialed in on #68. I can only work from memory, but I think it has a lot more going on tonally than #49 (A5) and #24 (F5) that I owned previously. The low end has more clarity, the mid-range is stronger, and the E string is full and rich. I love the clarity of my Heiden, especially on the low end, and #49 and #24 got a little muddy down there to my ear. I've got D'Addario Nickel Bronze strings on it now.

    I wonder why more builders aren't using the Griffith Loar as a model for their A5s. Everyone who has played it says it's the best Loar, but we see very few Griffith Loar A5 copies.

    Here's Farewell Trion, a trad tune that James Bryan added a third part to. Playing it pretty, as Wake Frankfield would say, but still too far back by the bridge.

    The T shirt says "Keep calm and play mandolin" from Monroe Mandolin Camp

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J3RsdBHIYzM
    Palatable to a Goat: Music from Gregg Daigle and Don Grieser
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  21. #15
    My Florida is scooped pheffernan's Avatar
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    Default Re: NMD Stanley A5 #68

    Quote Originally Posted by Don Grieser View Post
    I can only work from memory, but I think it has a lot more going on tonally than #49 (A5) and #24 (F5) that I owned previously. The low end has more clarity, the mid-range is stronger, and the E string is full and rich. I love the clarity of my Heiden, especially on the low end, and #49 and #24 got a little muddy down there to my ear.
    I know itís easy to get confused with all of the mandolins that have passed through New Mexico, but the Julin A5 was #46:

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/t...-Stanley-A5-46

    And unlike Wayne, I can be trusted to sell #68 back to you in a year.
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    Default Re: NMD Stanley A5 #68

    Don - Thanks for the low down on this super fine Stanley. As far as i can tell, 62 and 68 have opened up to sound really close. It would be fun to compare side by side someday. You've done a great job in describing their tone. 62 seems to like all the Monel strings i've tried, and the Martin offering is barely the favorite, with GHS close behind. Chris prefers the GHS Doyle Lawson string, which is good also.

    Another wonderful thing about the Stanleys is how they don't need humidification. In fact, Chris told me not to do that at all, and that he's subjected them to some extremely cold and dry Wisconsin winter conditions without issue. He would build mandolins in the winter and houses in the summer.

    68's neck looks pretty full - how does your left hand like it?

  23. #17
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    Default Re: NMD Stanley A5 #68

    I don't think I have ever seen a Stanley A5 that I wasn't impressed with. I guess that's why I also 'liked' the other thread on #46. Great playing Don.

  24. #18

    Default Re: NMD Stanley A5 #68

    Thanks, pheffernan and Clement.

    Dan, I didn't know about the humidity thing. I wanted to let it dry out gradually since it came from a humid place. The neck seems fine--I think my old injury has finally healed. I can play the mandola and octave now without having it get inflamed. The neck is fairly shallow and a rounded V. Feels great.
    Palatable to a Goat: Music from Gregg Daigle and Don Grieser
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  25. #19
    My Florida is scooped pheffernan's Avatar
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    Default Re: NMD Stanley A5 #68

    Quote Originally Posted by Don Grieser View Post
    I didn't know about the humidity thing.
    Iím of the belief that Chris applied something to the interior of his mandolins to combat shifts in humidity and later compared notes with Charlie Derrington.
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  27. #20
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    Default Re: NMD Stanley A5 #68

    p - You're right about this. Chis was enthusiastic about mandolins and kind enough to share a lot of info about these things and didn't get specific about what could be used to coat the inside. He and Charlie talked a lot about it, and he taught Chris how to apply stains and finishes. I recall how he strongly preferred dense maple and there are things he can see in the grain. Like good optics, once i looked into a Stanley burst i became spoiled with most other offerings out there.

    62 isn't light in weight and has a resonance you can feel on the back when playing the D and G strings. On the other hand, the Gibson A9 here (tuned ADAD) that's remarkably light in weight and sounds really good to my ears but the Stanley is on another level.

    Don - Yes, not having to humidify a Stanley is a real thing that Chris made a point of telling me about, but i never asked him about desert climate conditions. So it surely wouldn't do any harm to gradually decrease the humidity, as it's commonly known what quick drastic changes can do to wood. So glad your hand has recovered and the Stanley neck suits you.

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