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Thread: Cricket Fiddle mandolins?

  1. #1

    Default Cricket Fiddle mandolins?

    I wonder if anyone has any experience with Cricket Fiddle mandolins made by Tom Jessen in Minnesota? He makes gorgeous instruments. Iíve never seen any reviews or anything, though. Any thoughts, anyone?

  2. #2

    Default Re: Cricket Fiddle mandolins?

    Tom is a nice fellow and makes a good mandolin. I've played a few and I like what he's doing. Maybe we could summon Mandobart. He owns quite a few mando family instruments built by TJ.
    Girouard Concert A5
    Girouard Custom A4
    Trillium Mandola
    Dunwell B-1 Bouzouki
    www.singletonstreet.com

  3. #3
    Registered User Mandobart's Avatar
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    Default Re: Cricket Fiddle mandolins?

    I think I may have replied personally to the OP, but for the benefit of others who may search or stumble across this...

    Yes I have some experience with Tom "TJ" Jessen and his Cricketfiddle instruments.

    I first ran across his work several years ago (late 2009 or early 2010) when I was looking for an octave mandolin. He happened to have one for sale. We traded emails and phone calls. He seemed very likable and honest (because he actually is). I sent him the money and he sent me a wonderful hand built 21" F4 style octave mandolin with a hand carved western red cedar top, carved maple back and sides and maple (steel plate reinforced) neck that hasn't moved at all In the past 12+ years. The tone is rich and sustains more than many guitars. Very comfortable to play. And a solid wood, incredibly strong (and pretty cool looking) custom built wooden case.

    Maybe a year later he mentioned he had built a custom A4 10 string mandola for someone who decided they didn't want it, and was I interested? I was, I bought it and I love it. Hand carved redwood top, maple back, sides and neck. Same cool style custom built wooden case. This is probably my most versatile instrument due to the range, guitar-like sustain, small enough to carry on an airplane but the sound can fill a room like a piano. I've gigged with it, camped and travelled with it, all kinds of styles and genres.

    Later on I decided I needed a 10 string mandocello. I looked at the marketplace and contacted TJ. He hand built a custom 25-1/2" scale 10 string F4 style mandocello with a redwood top, maple back, neck and sides, installed a JJB piezo SBT pickup, custom fretboard inlay and of course custom matching case. The tone is deep, rich, like chocolate yet still with sparkling highs. Plays comfortably but it is heavy - longer than most guitars and a 3-1/2" body depth, solid carved top and back. IIRC build time was under 8 months.

    Later I was looking to get into Hardanger fiddle. I knew TJ rebuilt bowed orchestral strings and had built Hardangers and even nyckelharpa. He built a completely custom, unique, one of a kind instrument blending elements of the Pacific Northwest and the Norwegian folk instrument. Again at my request he installed a JJB piezo pickup. Very deep bodied and long (like I asked for), it's a handful to hold and play but so worth it. Western red cedar top, maple back, sides and neck. Custom inlay and artwork. Tone is absolutely haunting. Another custom case too.

    On both of these custom builds he provided frequent pictures, asked me about design decisions, communicated frequently, no surprise extra charges, well packed and protected for shipping.

    Finally, one of his early F5 mandolins became available and I snapped it right up. Its my main bluegrass and old time mandolin. Western red cedar soundboard, walnut sides and fretboard, maple back and neck.

    He made the bridge on each instrument. All the fretted instruments feature maple binding, a zero fret and cast Allen tailpiece. Natural wood finish (except for the mandola which has a merlot color which looks like the finish on my Eastman MDC805).

    I didn't post prices because these instruments were built and bought several years back. I will say that I've played and compared my Cricketfiddle OM, mandocello and mandolin to Webers costing 3 to 5 times as much and certainly held their own to my ears and fingers.

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  5. #4

    Default Re: Cricket Fiddle mandolins?

    MB, thank you so much for your comprehensive reply. Although I don’t own a Jessen instrument (yet), I keep going back to his website because of the beautiful work, his use of different woods, and, frankly, the good humor he shows on the website. As you have said, he seems like a hidden gem!

  6. #5
    Registered User rnjl's Avatar
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    Default Re: Cricket Fiddle mandolins?

    Can I just add that on this forum the sentence Later on I decided I needed a 10 string mandocello. doesn't raise an eyebrow at all but would be utterly incomprehensible to everybody else on the planet?

    I'm not saying I don't need a ten string mandocello, or that everybody shouldn't have one (OK, Florida-Georgia Line shouldn't have one), just pointing out it's fun being part of a small community that accepts each other as we are, such as having the need for a ten string mandocello.

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    Default Re: Cricket Fiddle mandolins?

    Quote Originally Posted by rnjl View Post
    Can I just add that on this forum the sentence Later on I decided I needed a 10 string mandocello. doesn't raise an eyebrow at all but would be utterly incomprehensible to everybody else on the planet?

    I'm not saying I don't need a ten string mandocello, or that everybody shouldn't have one (OK, Florida-Georgia Line shouldn't have one), just pointing out it's fun being part of a small community that accepts each other as we are, such as having the need for a ten string mandocello.
    Those primal urges for more mandolins is locked in our DNA

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    Registered User Sue Rieter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Cricket Fiddle mandolins?

    Quote Originally Posted by DaveGinNJ View Post
    Those primal urges for more mandolins is locked in our DNA
    I never even knew I had this DNA until the last couple years.
    "To be obsessed with the destination is to remove the focus from where you are." Philip Toshio Sudo, Zen Guitar

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