20461-R M22 3-Point Prototype
Beautiful blackface 3-Point prototype mandolin, red spruce top. This is the prototype, signed February 2004, 61st instrument Hans built.
Edited description from Acoustic Music Company’s online advert: “This is a varnish early florentine 3-point style Model 22 made with Bosnian maple and topped with Adirondack spruce. The instrument is a blackface, Schaller tuners with ivoroid knobs, 1 and 1/8″ bone nut, fine sculpted ebony pick guard, scooped extension, flat fretboard, masterful fit and finish. Custom Calton case to accommodate the elongated 3 point body. This mandolin was the prototype (and is designated as such on the label) for this model.
From Mr. Brentrup: “The 3 point mandolin was Orville’s original (circa 1908) florentine instrument and is a very difficult build. It has a very different sound which is well suited to old time string band music.””
Charlie Rappaport taking it for a spin:
Custom Calton Case (Mandola Case)
50337-I Model 20 Prototype Italian Spruce top, A-Style, oval hole with hybrid-style raised neck meeting the body at the 12th fret. Signed May, 2003, 37th instrument Hans built.
New Pictures: Includes new radiused bridge
2007 Lloyd A5
Red Spruce top, Maple back and sides.
Hans said “Darryl Wolfe was so kind as to provide a beautiful pickguard for this one. It just sets the instrument off beautifully! body width is around 10”-, no Virzi. The back was once a lovely one piece of forked flame maple, but I sawed it in half and slipped the joint a little to produce a likeness of the original. I also yellowed the binding more than I normally would as the original Archive pix seem to show (the famous “Griffith Loar” and only Gibson Loar A5 #74003) being really yellow with a lot of variation. Waiting for a James tailpiece to top it off.
As far as building the exact A5 copy…I have to admit my hesitation to building an instrument with the bridge moved that far forward. There is a powerful urge to cut that nose block down, move the neck back and get the bridge into a more “normal” position. I’ve never had the delight of trying the Griffith, but I sure will make more of these.
I’ve always thought that F5’s had what I call “authority”, while A5’s have a little more “refinement”. Likely this is attibutable to the extra mass of the blocks and possibly the little sound chamberlet of the scroll. The general tone is very similar to the F5 otherwise, with that fundemental red spruce sound and the bell like trebles. It also has that midrangy sound with the “rimshot” D and A courses.
Basically what (Gibson) did to satisfy Mrs. Griffith was to take an A4 body plan view shape and mate it to an F5 neck. Doing that moves the bridge forward and thereby necessitates moving the ff holes forward also. Don’t know how the body size relates to an A5L, but looks like they shortened the “snout” as you put it. My own reasoning says that it was done to put the bridge and ff holes in a “proper place” as on the F5. The bridge on the A5 Loar sits ahead of the high point of the top. This also necessitates cranking the bridge up higher because they left the neck angle the same as on the F5. ”
2006 Eclipse, first prototype, featured the dolphin holes from the Stealth, but added stylized scroll and sunset burst finish. Italian spruce top, 1-piece hard maple back, Deco style James tail piece (Bill James said “The tailpiece is a James but you can credit luthier Michael Lewis with the design of the cover“).
Hans said “I have been considering some further refinements, including different soundholes (S-holes?), and pickguard shape. The peghead is another consideration. While it seems to work fine for the Stealth, I have been searching for something that might fit better with the scroll motif.”
Eclipse on left, held by original owner Greg Fisher of MN, early fan and ardent supporter of Hans’ mandolins
2005 Stealth Prototype
Said Hans “When pushed, it works well for bluegrass, and has a heck of a WOOF. It also has a rather jazzy sound to it when you back off.
The whole idea was to make a non-F-5 that sounded like one. I was also trying to get a bigger sound out of it and consequently thought that moving the soundholes out would make for a larger vibrating area. Reverse dolphin holes were chosen because they follow the rim of the instrument and cut across a minimum of grain lines. They sit approximately 1” (total) farther out that regular F-holes. I don’t think that the shape of the holes makes much difference. The Lestock “pointlet” was chosen at the last minute for those sitdown folks that like to plant the instrument on their knee. It makes a lot more sense than the F-5 point, and doesn’t dig into your leg.
In all, I’m quite satisfied with the prototype. It’s Italian spruce and very hard flatsawn maple back. I feel that I could direct the tone qualities with top and back materials with the same predictability that I use for my M23’s. I’ll have it at IBMA for those interested in a test drive.”
40458-R L21, signed April, 2004, 58th instrument that Hans signed.
Red Spruce top. This was the prototype for the A5C that Hans built later on. The L-21 has a deeper body than the A5C , and has Euro maple back. A James tailpiece has since been added and the original Schaller tuners have been replaced with Elites.
This is a varnish “large” A model (10″ wide – 1/2″ larger than a standard A) and made with flame maple and West Virginia Red spruce, carved and contoured ebony pickguard.
70474-R M23 (Maestro Prototype), signed in July of 2004. The first 23V “Maestro” model Hans built with red spruce top and single piece rock maple back.