What is the difference in sound of the various woods you use?
Generally, that question is important when buying a stringed instrument. Wood breaks down into two categories - open grain & closed grain. For example, mahogany is an open grained wood and rosewood is a closed grained. Folks like the sounds of rosewood sides and backs, but often don't know the reason why. It's because the grain is closed and there are no little pores and air pockets for the sound to go into and get lost. I put a finish on the inside of my instruments as well as the outside, so when I'm done, no matter which wood I used, it is all closed grain and the sound bounces equally as well. So what a person needs to decide when choosing one of my woods is this - What would you like to wake up and see from now on? That will lead you to the woods you should choose.
If I order an Elloree instrument, how long will it take before I receive it?
Since I stay on the job 50 to 70 hours a week and only close on Sundays, I never get very backed up in my work. I generally don't stay more than three or four weeks behind. When I get started on a person's instrument, it takes me right at a month to bring it to completion. As I work on a person's instrument, I keep them updated every two or three days by email. And once it starts to look like an instrument, I generally send a picture or two just so a person will know something is actually being built. Also as I build, I take pictures of the entire building process, compile the photos into an album along with an explanation of what I did, and give it to the owner at no additional charge. It's something for antiquity's sake and a good opportunity for me to account for my work.
How does payment work when I order from you?
When I receive half the total payment from a person, I consider myself as being on the job for that individual. Once I am done with everything I was working on before a person's downpayment came in, then I get started on that person's instrument. I am able to receive the downpayment by way of cashiers check, money order, or personal check. A personal check will clear the bank before I am done with the instrument. Once I am through building, I receive the balance that is due and then I make shipment. I like to receive the balance in the form of a cashiers check or money order. I can accept a personal check as the final payment, but I have to wait two weeks before shipping to allow the check to clear the bank. A cashiers check, money order, or personal check would be made out to Rick Felkel and sent to - 810 Tidwell Rd. West Monroe, LA 71292.
What types of woods are available and do any of them cost extra?
There's a section on my site called Options. Any of the woods shown there can be had at my starting price except for black walnut. I have to charge an additional $50 for that. Also I have other woods in stock that I don't display on my site. I have such a small quantity of it that if I were to offer it, I would probably have to withdraw the offer in a few weeks. But if you get inclined for something more rare and unusual, like purple heart, pink ivory, flamed and figured poplar, or such, then inquire.
On an acoustic instrument, we use hard woods for the sides, back, and neck. Generally, I use the same wood for all three. We need a soft wood for the top, and you'll see that my two choices are western red cedar and piranah. I have a representation of western red cedar, but it can be had with a lot of different appearances - very light and all the way to very dark, to where it almost looks like redwood.
Do you charge extra to make an instrument left handed?
Eleven years and a little over 700 instruments ago, I intended to just build myself a guitar. I'm left handed and have found out firsthand that a good left handed instrument is very difficult to find. Since I build my instruments one at a time, it's no more difficult to make it left handed or right handed. So there's no difference in price.
My hands are big and I need a wider neck. (Or, my hands are small and I need a narrower neck and a shorter string length.) Can you do that and does it cost extra?
The heart of custom building is the fact that you can have an instrument made to fit you. Since I build one at a time, it's no more difficult to make a neck and fretboard a little wider or a little narrower. It's no trouble to make the sides a little deeper or a little more shallow. So there's all sorts of particulars that a person may need and they have no effect on the cost of the instrument.
I'm a little hesitant to buy an instrument I've never seen or heard. Where can I hear an Elloree instrument?
The band Caedmon's Call plays several of my instruments. Also one of the members of Caedmons Call, Andrew Osenga, has some independent projects and he uses my instruments. You can hear my Elloree Ambassador mandolin on Caedmon's Calls live album entitled Chronicles, on the song "This World". My Sojourner guitar can be heard on Andrew Osenga's project Souvenirs and Postcards in the songs Broadway Bartender and The Priest & The Iron Rain. Also, Andrew Peterson, plays an Elloree dulcimer and an Elloree Ambassador mandolin. They both can be heard on his Christmas album entitled Behold The Lamb Of God - The True Tall Tale of the Coming of Christ. Also, Andrew has a new album coming out in August. I'll update you then as to which of my instruments he uses on that project. In addition, there are many owners of my instruments who have given me permission to give their email addresses to anyone inquiring about the sound, quality, playability, etc. of my instruments. Those email addresses can be had upon request. Some email addresses are already posted under the section Elloree Reviews.
What type of electronics do you use in your instruments?
In my acoustic instruments, I use piezo pickups. There are a lot of piezos out there and probably they are all of good quality. Some are installed in ways that diminish their capabilities. The piezos I use do not have a peel and stick backing on them. The glue cushion on piezos seperates the pickup from the wood, and you only get a fraction of the tone that's possible. As I am building an instrument, I hard glue the piezo (or piezos) to the inside of the top. On a mandolin, I use one piezo that glues directly in the middle, under where the bridge will rest. On an acoustic guitar, I glue two piezos to the inside of the top, near where the outer tips of the bridge will be. The piezo (or piezos) are soldered to a jack that is in the tail block of the instrument. This jack also serves as a strap button. Included in the wiring of the instrument is a four slider preamp that plugs into the jack, and then your cord plugs into the preamp. The total cost on everything mentioned is $110. These are the same electronics used in the instruments played by Caedmon's Call and Andrew Peterson's. On electric instruments, I use single coil Kent Armstrong or EMG Select pickups. When I use humbuckers, I either use EMG Select humbuckers or EMG stacked humbuckers. When I put one pickup in an instrument, such as an electric mandolin, that instrument is equipped with tone and volume. When we have two pickups, I have tone, volume, and a three-way selector switch. Different pickups and wiring configurations are possible, and what we do is work out the difference between the cost of the pickups that I generally use and the cost of whatever pickups a person may want.
What sort of hardware do you use on your instruments?
As a rule, I use covered machine heads made by Ping. Ping is a company that's owned by Charles Kaman, who is also the owner of Ovation Guitars, Vic Frith drumsticks, Takamine Guitars, and about fifty other companies. These are the same machine heads I use on my personal instruments, and I get good service out of them. These covered Ping machine heads only come in chrome. However, other machine heads can be had. Sometimes folks want diecast, permanently lubricated, and sealed machine heads. They can be had for about $25 more than the covered machine heads. I can get gold machine heads and they're not much more than the chrome sealed machine heads. At present, the most expensive machine heads I use are black, three to the side. There's just not many people making them right now and the cost is particularly high. I keep strap buttons in stock and put them on both ends of the body. I make every effort to match the buttons with the machine heads. There are times when that is just not possible. When a person gets gold machine heads and wants their instrument wired, the jack that goes in the tail block can be had in any color as long as it's chrome. When one is not wired, then I can match the buttons with the machine heads. Also, for the price that is stated on my instruments, the instrument will come in a very nice, thick, padded gig bag. Sometimes folks want a hard case. When a hard case is available for my instruments, they can be had and, upon request, I can give you the cost of the difference between the gig bag and the case.
Do you ship outside of the United States?
I ship anywhere in the world that the postal system deems it to be safe. I always insure my instruments and there are some places in the world that the postal system says they will not insure. Seems that the economy, the government, and the overall conditions in certain countries makes it very unlikely that an instrument will ever arrive at it's destination. Other than those unsafe areas of the world, I do ship. It costs me about $50 to ship an instrument anywhere in the United States. When someone needs an instrument shipped elsewhere, I find out the location and give the destination and approximate weight to the folks at the post office, and they give me a very close estimate on the cost.
Do you make reproductions?
I always feel it's not in anybody's interest to have a look-alike. If a person wants the sound of a Martin, then they should buy a Martin. If somebody wants the quality of a Taylor, then they need to buy a Taylor. Bob Taylor has put a lot of work into developing his guitars and I am sure my attempts at reproducing his work would just be a poor reflection. So I have a policy. I don't build what I think I would not be good at building. I don't build reproductions, imitations, or forgeries. And I don't build anything that has that Adams Family look about it and appears that it needs to have demons cast out of it. I've developed a pretty big line of acoustic and electric instruments, and I do build originals that are from the mind of the person who is getting me to build.
How do your guitars sound compared to Martin, Gibson, and Taylor?
All of us builders have in mind the way that we want to build. The way that we build gives them their unique sound. The same is true of my guitars. Mine sound exactly like an Elloree Guitar. Click here to hear music clips from various sources played on Elloree instruments.