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Thread: Holding on to your personal Holy Grail mandolin

  1. #1

    Default Holding on to your personal Holy Grail mandolin

    After a very long journey, it became apparent that I had reached contentment in my search for mando heaven. No more MAS..have other folks found their personal Holy Grail mandolin? Congrats to those who have

  2. #2

    Default Re: Holding on to your personal Holy Grail mandolin

    Very happy with my Duff f5. Eight years now and can't imagine ever having any reason to change.
    "I play BG so that's what I can talk intelligently about." A line I loved and pirated from Mandoplumb

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  4. #3
    Registered User Jcdraayer's Avatar
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    Default Re: Holding on to your personal Holy Grail mandolin

    I can’t say for certain that I have, but after a recent trip to a shop that had a gorgeous Carlson signed Flatiron, a couple of Collings, and a smattering of other nice mandos, I walked away confident that none of them held a candle to my Northfield F5 or my snakehead. Perhaps, I just got lucky.
    1924 Gibson A Snakehead
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    Registered User Doug Brock's Avatar
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    Default Re: Holding on to your personal Holy Grail mandolin

    I can’t say my Kimble two point is my holy grail, but it is good enough that I haven’t had any real interest in shopping for another mandolin in the year since I got it. (One possible factor is acquisition of some fiddles, violas, cellos, clarinet, and electric guitar in past 18 months, lol.) I did have some strong feelings about a Northfield blackface last week…

  7. #5

    Default Re: Holding on to your personal Holy Grail mandolin

    1990 Gibson F5

    Dave H
    Eastman 615 mandola
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  8. #6
    Registered User Jill McAuley's Avatar
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    Default Re: Holding on to your personal Holy Grail mandolin

    In December I'll have had my Girouard for 4 years and I can honestly say that it's my personal Holy Grail instrument. Have never thought about selling or trading it ever, it does everything I want. Icing on the cake - it has my Beagle inlaid on the headstock!
    2018 Girouard Concert oval A
    2015 JP "Whitechapel" tenor banjo
    2018 Frank Tate tenor guitar
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  10. #7
    perpetual beginner... jmagill's Avatar
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    Default Re: Holding on to your personal Holy Grail mandolin

    My Heiden Heritage Model F-5 #107 is one of around 20 in existence and the most beautiful mandolin I have ever seen. It took years of searching, and playing dozens of mandolins costing from a few thousand dollars to Loars in six figures to find the One that made my ears melt in ecstasy. This Heiden was formerly owned by one of my musical heroes, Ry Cooder, and you can see a photo of it in Fretboard Journal's cover story on him in issue #32. For my tastes, I can't imagine a better F-5. Here's a few photos of John Reischman, me and Emory Lester all holding our treasured Heiden Heritage Models.

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  12. #8

    Default Re: Holding on to your personal Holy Grail mandolin

    I have to say, Michael Heiden makes a mighty fine mandolin. I am now in possession of two (the most recent is a blond A5 from 2021). I waved bye-bye to three mandolins after getting it and the Girouard G5. However, after dealing with some issues with the Waverlys on the new Heiden, I will say, if one can afford to, one should have a backup. Which is why I have no intention of scaling down to one mandolin- ever. But I doubt that I'd ever sell the new Heiden (or it's older sister).
    Sorry, I am no longer suffering fools

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  14. #9
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    Default Re: Holding on to your personal Holy Grail mandolin

    I've had my 10 string Sobell since 1984 and a Windsor tenor banjo since about 1974-1975 (only banjo I've had). I have a Sobell octave from 1988 which replaced an earlier one which got stolen at a festival. So I tend to stick with what I've got.

    I also have a nice Collings MT which I like but it's not Holy Grail. Similarly a couple of guitars.
    David A. Gordon

  15. #10
    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Holding on to your personal Holy Grail mandolin

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    Here it is, Fischbach ELF

  16. #11
    Registered User Cary Fagan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Holding on to your personal Holy Grail mandolin

    To me it's a matter of finding the right mandolin for oneself. And then playing it enough so that it feels like home. I found it after going through a half dozen or so, and mine happens to be a Passernig F5. I've been playing it 15 years now and it always has more to give as my playing improves. There are other great mandolins out there, but I have been happy to take my own journey in partnership with this one.
    Cary Fagan

  17. #12
    Registered User Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
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    Default Re: Holding on to your personal Holy Grail mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by Old Growth View Post
    After a very long journey, it became apparent that I had reached contentment in my search for mando heaven. No more MAS..have other folks found their personal Holy Grail mandolin? Congrats to those who have
    It's like guitars. No guitar does it all.

    For me, it's less so with mando, so I'm very happy with Junior. But — a reso? a solid-body? a batwing? Sure wouldn't turn return 'em if I got 'em for Christmas!
    Gibson A-Junior snakehead (Keep on pluckin'!)

  18. #13
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    Default Re: Holding on to your personal Holy Grail mandolin

    I doubt that I will ever say that I will not buy another mandolin, but I absolutely will always keep and treasure my Ellis F5 Special. I had been extraordinarily impressed each time I had ever had the pleasure to test drive one of Tom's mandolins and decided after a year of playing my dependable Eastman in isolation during the pandemic that I was ready to find my keeper. I was at Tom's shop when the wood was selected, visiting when it was being built, and I got exactly what I requested. I watched Tom, Pava and the other artists create my mandolin over many months. I honestly did not care about getting a headstock inlay, as I am only about the sound, and was ready to leave it with only his name on the headstock. However, Tom suggested that I would appreciate it over time, so I asked him to make the choice of the inlay for me and understand that I would tell folks that it was a"signature piece" of his work. Tom created a stunningly beautiful hummingbird inlay. My mother loved hummingbirds and she passed a few months before my mandolin was finished. Tom was right -- I am really glad and grateful he chose the inlay for me. I lost my vision many years ago and will never personally see the hummingbird, but everyone who does see it agrees that it is superb and visually makes the instrument even more gorgeous. I'm glad he made it a part of my Ellis mandolin. Still, what I wanted from this mandolin was superior sound, tone, sustain, clarity, resonance and consistency. I also wanted it to be very comfortable to play, to really work with my hands. I wanted each note from the Open G to the highest fretted note on the E course to be true and ring perfect, all of which I have gotten from my Ellis.

    I still have my Eastman and a campfire tool, but they've stayed in their cases since I received #564. Will I ever adopt another mandolin into my family? Maybe, just because it is fun to play different sounding instruments, but I cannot imagine anything else taking the Ellis from my center stage.
    ---
    2021 Ellis F5 Special #564 mandolin
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    2016 Eastman MD515 mandolin
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    Registered User Russ Jordan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Holding on to your personal Holy Grail mandolin

    My keeper—-Henderson #108, built for me in 2008

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    Russ Jordan

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  22. #15

    Default Re: Holding on to your personal Holy Grail mandolin

    Bonding with it is the key. Play it enough to make a judgement as to whether you want to keep it.
    Sorry, I am no longer suffering fools

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    Purveyor of Sunshine sgarrity's Avatar
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    Default Re: Holding on to your personal Holy Grail mandolin

    I’ve had my Heiden A5 for about 14 years now. Many others have come and gone but it has stood the test of time.

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  26. #17

    Default Re: Holding on to your personal Holy Grail mandolin

    I've had my Heiden A5 for 10 years. It will be here as long as I can play. Unmatched in playability and tone.
    Palatable to a Goat: Music from Gregg Daigle and Don Grieser
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  28. #18
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    Default Re: Holding on to your personal Holy Grail mandolin

    2012 Stanley A5s. It took some 3 years to break in and now has acquired all those midrange overtones, balanced volume with good E and not too much bass in the G, and more than plenty loud. Chris built it with a simple elegance to suit me and it still does. The neck has been re-profiled, new Rubner tuners, an unplated Hamlett tailpiece (never cared for the James), and the endpin hole plugged and replaced with a lovely Kluzon screwed on strap button. Plenty of natural distressing from daily playing. i can't imagine it leaving the fold or not being t-h-e go-to mando, although a number of other good quality mandolins have come and gone.

    There's also a 20002 A9 with wonderful, relaxed/loose sounding treble overtones and huge balanced volume. And a really sweet L&H/Washburn A. But if i had to go down to only one, it would easily be the Stanley. It's kinda the same as Don with his Heiden.

  29. #19
    Professional Dreamer journeybear's Avatar
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    Default Re: Holding on to your personal Holy Grail mandolin

    If my eyes do not deceive me, I count four Heidens and one Gibson. I'm a little surprised. Now, I've heard and seen a lot of good things said about Heidens, but nowhere near anything like what I've heard and seen about Gibsons. And yet here we are ...

    Since the vast majority of my experience has been with Gibsons, it should come as no surprise that that's where I'm at on this question. But it might be a bi surprising that it's my plain A that I'm most happy with, even with the F-4 and the A-4 that I've picked up over the last year or so. There's just something about the boominess of the A that suits me, suits my music. Now that may change when I get my hands on my restored A-3 in a month or so, if my luthier has done his usual magic and then some. There's also the ancient A-1 - I think it's a 1908 - which I played only a little before I left it with him to bring up to speed. The thing is, all these attempts to improve on what I've had and liked just fine for so long have not really panned out, not as well as I'd hoped. They did help to cure me of MAS, and I've learned it may just be the sought-after Maltese Falcon was right there with me all the time, the girl-next-door was the dreamboat I'd longed to find all along. It could just be. Sometimes you have to go to the ends of the earth to discover that what you really wanted, what you're really happiest with, was right there with you from the start. The stuff that dreams are made of ...

    At any rate, I'm happy with what I've got, and feel no need to search for anything more.

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    But that's just my opinion. I could be wrong. - Dennis Miller

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  30. #20
    Registered User Randi Gormley's Avatar
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    Default Re: Holding on to your personal Holy Grail mandolin

    I haven't actually looked seriously at another mandolin since i got my snake. It's exactly what I wanted and it's stood the test of time.
    --------------------------------
    1920 Lyon & Healy bowlback
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  31. #21

    Default Re: Holding on to your personal Holy Grail mandolin

    For me, it appears to be this weirdo. Finished it 10 years ago, and haven't really felt the need for another acoustic mandolin since.


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  33. #22

    Default Re: Holding on to your personal Holy Grail mandolin

    Fun stories, choices..

  34. #23
    Registered User Marcus CA's Avatar
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    Default Re: Holding on to your personal Holy Grail mandolin

    My ear is drawn to a higher price range than my wallet is. So, I have played two holy grails in the last seven years --- one at the Healdsburg Guitar Festival, and one at Carter's --- but couldn't walk out the door with either one.
    still trying to turn dreams into memories

  35. #24

    Default Re: Holding on to your personal Holy Grail mandolin

    After an almost 2 year wait, I received my Apitius Rosine Loar Spec F-5 last year. Made to my preferences. It's now the only mandolin I own, and I can't imagine ever needing or wanting another. It's as close to owning a Loar as I could ever hope to deserve.

  36. #25

    Default Re: Holding on to your personal Holy Grail mandolin

    White #22!

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