Just an update...
These guitars are now very full and loud sounding as the nitro dries...I mean, they sounded really good when I got them, but now they sound great!
The walnut guitar is big and fat, plenty of bottom but with all the punchy midrange and dry treble I wanted....nothing slight or tinny there.
The maple guitar is lively and very woody, full and and quite bright, but not tinny or shrill...lots of punch and presence, a really a focused resonant tone.
So, thanks again...These guitars are everything I had hoped for and more!! You've spoiled me with these...
I'll get back soon when I'm nailed down on what's next...
Happy New Year to you! Hope 2011 shapes up to be a great one as you create in your workshop.
It has been quite some time since I last wrote you and I noticed the picture of me in your t-shirt at the fiddler's convention is still up on your webpage. Who knows, I may get to Merle fest this year and if I do, you can be sure I will send another shameless plug your way.
I wanted to share with you one of those "small world" moments I thought you would appreciate. My wife and I relocated from Charleston SC to Greenville SC and in doing so had to find a new church home which we did. In doing so, we have met quite a few new families and in getting to know one young couple in our church a bit better, it turns out that he works as a violin repairman and also builds his own custom bows for the violin family of instruments. But here is where the world gets small. A few weeks ago he joins our worship band playing this funky stringed instrument so I naturally go up to him after church and he tells me it is a 10 string Bouzouki (or some might say Cittern). Anyway, as you may have guessed, it was built by none other than Rick of Elloree guitar fame! We both got a kick out of the fact that two people in our church own instruments built by you and I thought you would too.
Have a blessed week!
After I wrote you I had been experimenting with different amps, etc. I finally got a real good, low sound from this:
I connected the board into an old Marantz Stereo amplifier I have had for a long time. It has 30 Watts. I got some cables from a local computer/electronic store with plug on one end for the board and RCA on the other. I connected to the auxiliary in the back of the amp and switch it to mono. Then I connected a bass tube from a car stereo application to the speaker terminals. It gives a nice low bass thump to play along with. I think it sounds pretty good. I am still tweaking the controls on the Marantz amp but so far this is the best sound I have got from the board. Thanks and I will keep in touch.
I got the guitar today.
I have to tell you off the bat that this guitar is an EXCELLENT instrument. I've owned dozens of quality guitars during the past 27 years I've been playing. I've also played and serviced dozens-more high end acoustics when I previously managed a busy guitar shop in NYC. Let me tell you, this Elloree is special. Professional quality, professional tone, but also a truly unique and charming handmade instrument...HANDMADE. That's unheard of nowadays.
As far as the tone, it is exactly what I was hoping for. It's bright, clear and has that elusive midrangey-crunchy-growling tone I've been after. It is spot-on for fingerstyle blues, just PERFECT! I cannot find any new guitars like this in places like Guitar Center and certainly couldn't get anything close to this Elloree from a custom builder for less than $2500 and endless months of waiting, if they'd even want to build a ladder braced instrument at all. And speaking of the braces,I noticed you really spent some time shaping them to be neat and slight yet still very strong. Although this guitar is solid, you really didn't overbuild it, and the loud, crisp tone is proof of that.
The guitar rings with lots of sustain, as much sustain as any dovetail joint acoustic, but you knew that already didn't you? Plus, not having the heel in the way makes for easy access and helps keep the slide straight over the frets as I go past the 12th fret. Overall. a smart, sleek design, particularly useful for my purposes.
By the way, the neck is absolute butter, the intonation is right on, and the guitar is very responsive to extreme dynamic playing--something which overbuilt assembly line guitars just don't provide. The guitar is light as a feather, and visually it is quite striking, looking like a custom hand-made old parlor guitar from the turn of the century. The wood you chose is all really beautiful, very rustic, very earthy. The finish is light and perfectly satin, just like a mellowed old finish, waaay better than a thick, glistening polyeurethane shell!
Despite the reams of questions and suggestions I gave you, you were able to distill it all down and you captured the essence of what I was after--and you did a bang up job of making it a reality. Even when I look at the crude picture I drew up of the guitar as a reference sketch, you really "got it" and managed to capture the "vibe" of it so very well!
As far as the business side of the transaction, I appreciate your very rare ethic of "honesty and integrity FIRST / money second" which you've practiced since the first discussion we had. It is a delight to be able to deal with someone who is bound by their word, and who really puts a bit of heart into what he creates. Your good spirit radiates from your handiwork, and it's refreshing to be able to own something that was lovingly created, that has such a soulful quality, Rick.
Please feel free to use this as testimony of your abilities for any who wish to know. and if you'd like to privately provide my email address to anyone who wants to speak with someone who owns one of your guitars, please feel free, I'd love to correspond with them. Thank you very much for all you've done in providing me with an instrument I just couldn't otherwise obtain. I'll be calling you soon to talk about "The next one"...
All the best,
This is number 4 for me- I have a regular mandolin, an octave mandolin and a great big herald body guitar. Rick's instruments are top notch, that's all there is to it. The only way to make them sound better is to get someone else to play them. ~Steve
I have been a banjo picker for 25 years and I happened to have an opportunity to try one of the first prototypes. I can tell you this is a very sweet playing and sounding instrument. It has a very good feel and the action is low and easy and it has a unique sound that to me is like a cross between a banjo and a drobro. It would be at home in any country or bluegrass band or just enjoying at home.
This is an original concept as far as I know and I guarantee that there is nothing else like it out there that looks like it or sounds the same.
Rick has been making instruments for many years and knows what it takes to build in the kind of durability needed for professional applications at an affordable price.
I own a few guitars and banjos and I can tell you that this instrument is of a quality that you can take on the road and play it night after night and it would hold up. To be honest the easy playability and sweet sound has gotten me playing again."
As the owner of Rick Felkel's first two lap steel guitars, I can say with absolute confidence that this guitar is a deal, really a steal ;), at the price; in fact, it plays as beautifully as comparable lap steels that sell for between $1500-$2500. The more "acoustic" version of the Elloree lap steel, 'Mr.Echo', has a tone as nice as any Weissenborn style lap guitar I've heard. Not quite a Weissenborn tone, but just as sweet, it has a little more top end, and alot of sustain, and decent volume unplugged. The more fully "electric" version of the guitar, Mr.Steel, has the kind of deep, warm, hollow body lap steel sound you hear in early western swing or old Hawaiian music. I have another good lap steel, but I don't touch it anymore. There's no point now that I've got my Elloree Echo and Steel. Over the past decade, I've purchased something like 10 instruments from Rick Felkel for myself and my family, including chromatic dulcimers, guitars, and a solid body electric mandolin. I've come back to Rick over and again because he sticks by honorable and ecologically sustainable business principles, because his instruments are the best value in the U.S., but most of all because he makes instruments that sound beautiful regardless of price. And the fact is that with Mr.Steel and Mr. Echo, Rick Felkel gave me his finest work. I cannot recommend these instruments, and Elloree guitars, highly enough. Graham Cassano, Blue Pontiac. http://www.myspace.com/bluepontiac
"Hey Rick! Here's a photo of myself and one of you fine creations. It has been a solid instrument and people always ask where I got it. I still love it."
Man I love this ambassador mando guitar. It really adds to the service and everyone loves the sound of it but that dynamic look gets attention too. People come up and ask what is that????? Thanks....if you ever want to do a missions trip or know anyone who would like to come sing for us send them on.
My name is Andrew Osenga. I used to play for a band called the Normals, and this year I will be playing guitar with Caedmon's Call, while Derek is doing his solo stuff. We've been talking about different ideas for the Spring tour and the thought of using a mandolin came up, and then Christie (our manager) mentioned she just got an e-mail from you about you building us one. Well, we are very interested. As I'm just starting to play with them, I'm not sure where the old one is. They loaned the old mandolin to Andrew Peterson, they think, but aren't sure, and he's on vacation, so we have no clue. It might be in Josh's closet somewhere, probably growing to life under some old laundry. Anyway, the point is, I've looked at your page, and I really dig the Ambassador. I don't know where you're at with production, but we start rehearsal for the tour on the 20th of this month, and we start the tour on Feb. 8th. If you are still interested, give me a call and we can talk about the specifics. My number, here in Nashville, is ----------. I should say, also, that I'll be the guy to mainly play it. Josh may a little, as well, but primarily he'll do more keys stuff and I'll do more folk-string stuff. Also, I was really interested in your child's guitar. You said, however, that an adult couldn't play it. I have been looking at getting a Baby taylor or a Martin backpacker, but the Taylors feel really cheap and the Martin is really hard to hold. I am working on writing stuff for a new record and want a little guitar to be able to carry around and fit on the bus and whatnot. I didn't know if you had anything like that, or would be interested in building one. I couldn't pay much, I'm a newly-wed, and the afore-mentioned "new guy" to the band, but if you're interested, again, we could talk. So there's my spiel, sorry it's so long. Give me a call this week, tomorrow or Friday would both be fine. The instruments look beautiful and we'd be very honored to play them this year. Thanks for wanting to support us this way. Take care and talk to you soon.
Grace and Peace
Yeah, that won't be a problem at all. Just come to the will-call ticket line. Maybe give me a call earlier that day so I can let you know our exact schedule that day, but you're welcome to come anytime, maybe an hour or so before the show. Thanks, and the mandolin rocks, play it every night!! Take care and I'll see you soon.
I'm using all over the place, now that the tour is over, anyway! This summer I'm producing a couple of records, one of which has a pretty heavy bluegrass influence, and you can be sure that mandolin will be on every one of them. Thanks again, have a great Summer, and tell everybody hi for me.
I am very thankful, proud and appreciative of the hybrid Quinto Guitar you built for me. First of all the sound, action and intonation on this instrument are just great so is the choice of wood used. I especially liked your Seraph model design it suits this instrument perfectly. I know that you go to great lengths to suit the needs of your clients. I will recommend Elloree Guitars to anyone in need of a great custom built instrument at a very decent price. Thanks again Rick. I hope to enjoy this guitar for years to come.
Well I finally got to play my guitar and sing in church tonight. I told this story.
Isaiah 64:8 But Now, O LORD thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand.
Today we learned about consequences in church and we also studied actions do have consequences in our Sunday school class. I told about Roy my father in law and that he was going to build a new house and that he had an ash tree sawn up maybe to use for a mantel. I also asked this question to the congregation. Did you ever try to live your life through your children? I always wanted to play a guitar. So I bought my sons Christopher and Jason guitars. Maybe they would learn how to play. Chris got married to Shannon and Shannon was cleaning the house and knocked over his guitar and broke it. Now a broken guitar is not very useful. Last Christmas Chris decided to get his guitar repaired. I went with him just to keep him company as I don’t get to see him very often. We arrived at Rick Felkel’s shop “Elloree Guitars” and Rick began to access the damage. Then I opened my mouth and asked Mr. Felkel what he built guitars out of? He said ash. I said oh I have a barn full of ash and Rick promptly said I will build you a guitar for some of it. I said oh no just build Chris one.
In a few days we went back to Rick’s shop and took a picture of the stack of lumber. Rick said I will build you both a guitar for that stack of lumber. Rick seemed to know that I needed a guitar. We are both left-handed and left-handed stuff is hard to find.
This is scrap piece of the ash lumber. It doesn’t look like anything special. Aren’t we the same way, kind of plain and ordinary but not to God. If we make ourselves available he can use us in ways we never thought possible.
The song I am going to sing is “The Potter’s Hand”. My prayer is Lord let me see the world through your eyes.
John Sistrunk <><
I wanted to let you know that both guitars came today in perfect condition. The writing on the box gave the mailman a good laugh and he HAD to know what was in them. I tested them both out and they work perfectly through the amp.
Now about the classical, all I can say is "Wow!" The new finish is perfect and the wood, action, fit of the pieces is all immaculate. I would put this guitar up against any nylon I've ever played... at any price. Pictures just don't do the beauty justice. The sound is very nice out of the box and, judging from my other guitars, will grow even sweeter. I want to tell you that I cleared out my entire acoustic guitar collection over the past few months so that I could have just three "go to" guitars. The ones remaining had to meet these standards: able to withstand high humidity every summer, sound good through a PA or amp, impeccable playability, and sound so good unplugged that I felt inspired. My final guitars are a Rainsong AWS (that I almost returned due to my high playability standards), Elloree 9 sting custom guitar, and Elloree custom nylon classical guitar.
I don't know how you've never been asked to make a classical before. One of the things that plagues nylon guitars is the tone of the G sting. On most classicals it just seems anemic but not on my Elloree. The feel of the neck is like that of an old friend's hand, it just fits. I could go on and on but then it would just sound like I was blowing smoke. I just want to say thank you. That is why I'm writing on a break from work and not at my normal e-mail address.
I received the mandolin of Saturday morning. I only had enough time to tune it and play Amazing Grace on it before we were out the door on our way to an eagle scout ceremony for my nephew. I didn't really get to play it until Sunday night when the boys were in bed.
I love everything about this instrument. I had high expectations for it and they were all exceeded. My biggest worry was that a 22" scale and a mandolin tuning would be too much for my small stature. The mandolin was a little smaller than I had envisioned and it fit may hands like it was made for them (and actually it was!).
· The extra string length also allows me to vibrato as well as tremolo, which in combination with the cedar top creates a classical guitar sound.
· The lower tone allows me to play rhythm while the double strings allow me to transition to a smooth, reverent lead sound when I need to and during breaks. It provides an optimization of guitar and mandolin- very nice!
· The overall tone of the instrument is fantastic- deep, reverent, yet still crisp and clean. If it's going to sound better in 3 months while the finish cures then I can hardly wait.
· I appreciate the free T-shirt. The printer did a nice job on it. I'll wear it with joy.
· I like the shape and design of the mandolin- it's unique yet stately. It's not as fancy as an F-model which is a good thing to me, yet it is graceful, simple and humble.
· I like the pickup- it's so well hidden that no one will know it's electric unless I plug it in.
· The flaming maple is absolutely gorgeous.
· The soft case you chose I actually prefer to a hard-shell case. This instrument will not have a hard shell because it doesn't need it with this case. I looked at it very closely and I couldn't help but wonder how you can offer it for so low a price.
· I like the pre-amp and look forward to figuring out how to get the most out of.
· Thanks for putting new strings on it. It can be a killjoy to get a new instrument and then have to change the strings. I wanted to see it before buying strings and wouldn't have been able to play it if you hadn't included them.
· I kept wanted to ask if you'd put a truss rod in so I could set it up again when the weather changes or if I use a heavier strings- I like the sound of heavier strings more. You put one in and even included a spare Allen wrench- Thanks!
· You packed the mandolin well and it arrived in great shape- Thanks!
· You signed it and even put my name in the side making it all the more special. Mom used to sign her work, too. It shows you are willing to stand behind it.
I felt very good about asking you to make an instrument for me now I couldn't be happier about it. Now you're resurrecting my old mandolins as well. I have truly been blessed. I haven't shown it to Mom yet, but will keep you posted on her reaction when she sees it. I'm certain she'll love it, though- she appreciates good craftsmanship. She'll probably notice more of your excellent craftsmanship features than I have.
To top it off, you are a brother in Christ and actually care about me and my family. I can't imagine how you could have treated me better than you have. You keep surpassing my expectations. If God has made people like you, I can't imagine how great the fellowship will be in Heaven. You just totally rock, dude. It's pure grace to me that I even get to talk to a person of your character and ability.
My words here may sound complimentary, but they do not begin to reflect my appreciation for you and your work. I don't think the English language could do you justice.
So I've had my guitar a year and a half and i figured i should send you a picture... I had a few pictures from gigs, but they were always fuzzy, so I finally got a decent one from a wedding last weekend. Don't I look fancy in my borrowed tie with my pretty wife? You shoulda heard that thing through their megachurch sound system; amazing. Anyway, I still love the guitar. Been using it with a Baggs para DI and it sounds awesome. People ask about it whenever i get it out; I always give them your website, don't know if any of them actually end up getting one from you. I think at least one kid from Arkansas did last year. lucky boy... I don't have any current projects i need done (gotta get my grandpa's mando restored one of these days), but I miss keeping in touch with you. I do check in with the diary every so often. You're a good man and i brag about you all over the place. I think you make God smile. I smile whenever i get that guitar out. Talk to you sooner or later. -- Grace&Peace, Lucas
Mike Swinford - (email)
Yesterday I received your photo album on the building of my dulcimer guitar. It is a very nice gesture on your behalf and I get a good picture of how the instrument was put together. I would also like to thank you for all the complimentary things you said about my music. It's always a joy when someone appreciates the fruits of your labor. Right now I'm already in the process of recording an all instrumental album using the dulcimer guitar you built for me. I've already completed 6 tunes. The CD is going to contain about half traditional Public Domain music and half material of my own. I plan to call the album "Drone Axe". I'll make it a priority to send you a copy as soon as the work is complete. Oh and Rick, thanks again for a superb instrument.
On Christmas day, my wife, Ros, gave me an Elloree electric dulcimer. I don't know what sort of praise I can offer your workmanship that hasn't already been said by others on your website. But this is a sweet instrument. I'm primarily a jazz musician (chromatic harmonica) and was just 'fooling around' with the dulcimer; but this chromatically fretted model opens new vistas that I could not have imagined before. And that tone! I can play everything from Bakersfield to the blues, from the rhythm changes to gospel, and it all sounds so beautifully perfect. Thank you so much for your work.
Yours most sincerely,
Graham - (email)
I got the photo albums today and it was a perfect way to wind up the purchase of the guitar. I've tried hard to come up with words describing how I feel about the guitar and the closest that I can come is to say that I can feel the love you have for what you do in the finished product. The action and set-up is perfect and the sound is already great (and I know it will only get better).
It is a unique instrument. I've played custom instruments costing thousands of dollars and while they may be more elaborate, they do not have the hand-made feel of your instruments. It's almost as if many of the custom built guitars have approached the consistency of mass produced instruments. Your instruments each have a distinct personality and feel.
This was all meant to be a compliment. I hope I was able to get across my feelings. It may be awhile, but I will be back in touch about a mandolin in the future.
God bless you and your family,
Jim - (email)
Hi Rick, the guitar arrived today at noon. It is just beautiful. It has a brighter tone than your Herald model. Very nice. I am very happy. I will never sell any of your guitars. What is the little square with tiny screws for on the back? Is that to adjust the neck? Also, what type of strings are on it? I like them. I am interested in having a solid body electric made. Do you stain them or can you spray paint a color on them? My son would like a blue metal flake electric solid body. Let me know what you think. You are a talented and kind man. It must make you feel very happy that your beautiful instruments are making music all over the world. Thank you very much for your professional craftsmanship. I will put a review in for you at Harmony Central.
Jane - (email)
She's great, Rick. Arrived in fine shape and sounds terrific. Will keep your truss rod instructions close by and now begin to really enjoy the instrument. As I've said to you before, you are a man of sincerity and warmth. Thanks again.
Alan - (email)
Thanks, Rick! I have meaning to write you and tell again how much I love the guitar. I've been playing it like crazy, and I swear it sounds better every day! I love the size, and it sure seems to get a lot of volume out of its small size. And to my ear it sounds better than either the Gibson or Martin tenor guitars I have owned. And of course the wood you selected for the top, back and sides is gorgeous!
Scott - (email)
Rick, I received the photo album. Thanks very much. It'really a nice touch. My wife and I both think the guitar is beautiful and it sounds better every time I play it. If I can send some business your way, I sure will. Thanks again and best of luck.
Guy - (email)
Rick, Received dulcimer yesterday, wow!!!! I love it. it is a thing of beauty and sounds great too!!!! I am very happy and thank you for making me an instrument. As for the case, it's not bad but I want to put it in a soft padded case to protect the new finish.
thanks again, Walter - (email)
My mandolin arrived about two hours ago but I had to force myself to quit playing to email you. I absolutely love it. Fact is, if it had been in the sale room with the other 50 at the bluegrass fest, it would have been the ONE to come home with me! THANK YOU for making such a wonderful mandolin.
I thought I'd pass on a few initial comments on the guitar. Although I spent most of my evening feeding the kids and cleaning, I did have a chance to play a bit. The guitar is just great. It has a great bright sound without harshness, and it's very even but has its own personality and plenty of depth. Thanks for the handwritten "custom-made" plaque on the inside. My kids were really wild about that, and I admit I enjoyed that, too. It's an odd feeling to get something that I know will be with me for years, and hopefully will pass to my boys in the future. Thank you for a wonderful instrument.
Price Paid: US $550
Purchased from: N/A
Rick Felkel of Elloree Guitars
This review is of a custom-made acoustic guitar, made for me in June 2002 by Rick Felkel of Elloree Guitars in West Monroe, Louisiana.
Rick made me a dreadnought guitar with a florentine cutaway. All Rick's instruments are made with straight-grained woods. The sides, back and neck are all black walnut (3 piece back, and the sides are made of one continuous piece). The top is western red cedar. Rick makes the fretboard and truss rod himself. Neck has a slight V to the shape. Guitar came with a very nice gig bag. I can't really put a numeric rating on features because I asked Rick to make me a very simple instrument -- I wanted playability and sound, and no frills. He obliged. "Features" is not what defines this guitar.
This guitar sounds great. I can't really liken its sound to a Taylor, Collings or Gibson -- it has a voice of its own. It has great low end, punchy mid-range and good high end, but the real beauty of the sound is something I can't describe well -- it's kind of breathy and deep. The fact that this guitar sounds different from other acoustics I've played is part of its charm. I had Rick make it with no pickup -- I'm recording it with an AKG 414 and it records magnificently. Great for a variety of playing styles.
Action, Fit, & Finish: 10
Here's where Rick Felkel is one-of-a-kind. The guitar arrived in perfect condition, with obvious meticulous attention to every detail, and I knew it would. Rick sends e-mails as he's building the guitar, keeping you apprised of progress. It's obvious that he loves building instruments, and his attention to detail is great. When I got the guitar, I already knew how much of himself Rick had put into the guitar. He even mounted a small, signed plaque inside the guitar saying it was custom-built (gives my name, his name and location and date). Rick even sent me a little photo album showing photos from different stages of the construction.
I've only owned the guitar a month so I can't really speak to its durability, but it holds its tuning well despite my abusive style of playing and the bizarre humidity swings here in Baltimore. Construction looks very solid.
Customer Support: 10
Rick may well be the friendliest man in America. Two year warranty, I think (check the website at http://www.angelfire.com/la2/elloree -- I think Rick gives the details there).
Overall Rating: 10
I've been playing 35 years. This guitar replaced my Taylor Dan Crary, and I also play a Rainsong acoustic, several PRS guitars, Bunker Bass, Fender P-bass, Bill Lawrence Les Paul and a bunch of other stuff.
I love this guitar. When you've owned many guitars (I've probably owned 100 through the years), it's very hard to find one that has a voice of its own. This guitar definitely has its own voice. It feels like it was made by a human (that's a good thing), and although it's not the shiniest or fanciest guitar I've ever had (actually, it may be the least fancy guitar I've ever had), I think this guitar is the real thing -- a KEEPER! I hope Rick is able to continue making instruments for a long time.
- Paul Margolis (email)
This "completely unsolicited endorsement" is sent to you because I noticed you're bidding on a Rick Felkel (Elloree Guitars) octave mando. In 2000 and early 2001 I was constantly bidding on Octaves without success. I'm not much good at this bidding game. I finally gave up and bought an Octave from Rick last March. I am extremely pleased with it. It looks and sounds fantastic. I'm playing it in Irish and Old Timey sessions all over my area. Rick is an amazing craftsman and human being whom I'd like to meet some day. If you like, check his web site and you'll see my endorsement (Bruce Holmquist) along with the rest. Don't let the bolt on neck detur you. Good luck (better than mine) on your bidding. I've played a Trinity O.M. There is no comparison. The closest I've found (and it is of similar shape and size) is a Flatiron O.M. at more than twice the price.
- Bruce Holmquist (email)
- Darren Bush (email)
I immediately phoned Aunt Lou and told her all about it. She's very excited. And during my phone call, my special lad Jeff told me to tell her he agreed, that the dulcimer is absolutely beautiful, and that he was totally amazed (as am I) by all the skills this endeavor required: the knowledge of electrical wiring, the artful eye, and amazing dexterity with woodworking. The dulcimer is wonderful. It's such a simple outline, just so right. And it sounds like a dream! Later in the evening, after a day of ogling it, I finally got an opportunity to hook it up to an amp, and it simply took the roof off. The sound was perfect, with the nice high timbre of the dulcimer coupled with just the most wonderful amount of scratch and texture -- a tone perfect for elegantly rockin out. The instrument's weight is perfect, I love how raised the fretboard is, and I am so excited by the sheer breadth of notes! There are so many new songs and sounds to tap into. I just can't believe it.
So, the words you wanted to hear: I don't know how I ever lived without this thing!
Additionally, thank you for the photo album. It feels a little bit, in a weird way, like a baby book. I showed it to my lad Jeff and to my friend Mike with all the pride of a new mother (I assume this is what a mother's pride feels like).
Most of all, Rick, I am touched by the thought and care you put into this. The fretboard was a wonderful surprise, and the photo book and handwritten panel on the back of the dulcimer both were just somehow so touching.
You have such a gift. In a huge way, I'm really just floored and humbled by the whole process. This object is just such a beautiful thing. Thank you so much for doing this for me. I fear I've completely run out of words to express the complexity of my gratitude and admiration.
Thank you so much! God bless! And keep in touch, too!!
Jennifer Frank (email)
Mike Swinford - (email)
I received the bass on Saturday and spent Saturday evening shielding, wiring, and setting the action and intonation. Your repairs and finish are great. The bass came out lighter (in weight) than I thought. When I was tuning it, I noticed that it was pretty hard for me to turn the new aluminum knobs. The problem seemed to be that the knobs were too smooth to grab onto. I decided to try coating them with "Plati-dip", which is a tool coating for plier handles and such from the hardware store. After coating them they were a lot easier to turn.
This bass has a very unique voice. It seems to tend to be bright but with a big bass presence as well. The other thing about the sound is the great "bloom" it has on all the strings. When you pluck a string medium to hard, its sound gets louder before it begins to decay, and it sustains for a long time. It also has that great "mmmmwwaaaah" sound that bassists look for.
I have one more change to make to the electronics inside. It seems that Steve left out one resistor in wiring the "Q-filter" and I need to find one in my junk box and install it.
I'll be playing it tonight at rehearsal with "Distant Voices" to see how it sits in the mix with a band.
Overall I'm very pleased with the bass and especially with your work on it.
Thanks for finding solutions to several difficult problems and executing the fixes so well.
stay in touch,
- Vincent Calcaterra (email)
- Bill Donathan (email)
I had a chance to drive to Madison (the university town where my son lives) to give him the mandolin this weekend. As I had anticipated, he was in awe of the instrument. It was wonderful to see him admire it and play it. (this is the cedar and cherry round sound hole instrument). As you said in the ebay posting, the sound really is exceptional. Matthew has sent you an email which should express how he feels about it.
Keep up the quality work. Its been a pleasure to deal with you, and an even greater pleasure to bring an example of your fine craftsmanship into the family.
I'm Matt Mihlbauer. My father Mike recently purchased a mandolin from you for a gift for me. He brought it to me today, and I'm very impressed. I have never played an instrument that sounds and feels that nice. I played a super nice Breedlove custom mandolin earlier this summer in Portland, OR, and couldn't stop thinking about how good it felt to strum a chord and feel it. The mandolin I recieved today is significantly nicer than that Breedlove. I can't quite get over how great it sounds. Tonight, I picked it up and played "Wild Horses". It sounded so great I actually had tears in my eyes.
So, I found it necessary to send you an email to say that you do beautiful work, and that this is probably the best gift I've ever recieved.
Thank you very much, Matt Mihlbauer
I am terribly sorry for being out of touch so long. No excuse, just life... We are pretty much settled up here in Alaska, getting ready for the long winter. It is more beautiful than words can describe. This is truly God's country.
Anyway, I love the mandolin. I have not had many opportunities to play with other people, but the few that I've played with are very impressed with the sound. My next door neighbor is a music producer, has a professional recording studio in his home and his own record label. I have been able to play with him a couple of times and he has made the comment, I quote; "I have never heard an acoustic instrument sound so pure through an amplifier." A compliment to your excellent workmanship! We put it through an acoustic amp one day and it sounds amazing. He wants to record this instrument on a couple of the projects he is working on. It will probably be played by a professional musician instead of me, but I'll send you a sample if all that actually happens.
Over the past month or so I have noticed the improvement in tone that you told me about. It is hard to believe that it could sound any better, but every time I pick it up I am amazed. It puts out such a rich tone, unlike anything I have ever played. I am very proud of it's uniqueness. Thanks again for "stepping out" and customizing it like I requested. I love the sound holes you came up with, looks like lion teeth. I look at the front of it and immediately think of a lion, so you were able to incorporate LLBD in a positive and somewhat abstract sense whether you meant to or not. It is more than I could ever ask for.
I will eventually get around to taking some good pictures of it in the mountains or by a stream or something like that, and promise to send you a sample if the recording thing pans out. I hope everything is going well in your life and look forward to hearing from you again.
The photo album came in today and I have to say, it's great...something I will keep and treasure while I'm on this earth...The pictures are fantastic, and you're right, they look better in person than online...It definately looks like lots of care and love went into this Sojourner...I appreciate you writing all those kind words at the end...all of this is for God's glory, and I'm so happy I was able to find you to build my guitar...Well I look forward to maybe talking to you about building another hehe...maybe not right now, but in time...Thank you again! I don't know what else to say because everytime I look at the guitar, I am speechless...Many people don't understand that getting a guitar built is stressful, especially when you've never met the guitar builder or seen or even heard any of his guitars...All I can say is that you made this entire process go smoothly and from the moment I talked to you on the phone, I knew you were the right person...And as I waited, I felt at ease because I knew that it was in your hands...
God bless you Rick! You rock!!!
I'll keep in touch through email and give you a call when I have enough money for maybe a solid body stage acoustic guitar!
In Christ Alone,
Sounds great. Everyone really loves it. I've been parading it around. Very cool. My friend kate said that it was one of her most favorite instrument sounds when i played it for her.
I'll send you pictures of me playing it as well as a copy of my newest cd- I'm sure I'll find somewhere for it!
here is some of my music, rick!
MR. RICK I JUST RECEIVED THIS BEAUTIFUL WORK OF ART. I REALLY LOOKS GOOD. I WANT LET ANY ONE TOUCH, I KNOW THAT'S BAD! BUT MAN THAT LOOKS GOOD! I CAN'T WAIT TO PLAY ON STAGE FOR THE LORD. ONCE AGAIN THANK YOU FOR YOUR HARD AND EXCELLENT CRAFT.
BE BLESSED AND CONTINUE TO WALK IN THE FAVOUR OF GOD
Hey Rick -
All right, it's official. I love this 12-string. And Cason is loving his 6. They're really great, man. You outdid yourself on these. I hope you're getting some more business now. I've been playing that 12-string out with Caedmon's and Bebo Norman this past couple of weeks and I've let a few curious folks play it and gave them your info. Just wanted to let you know that, as usual, I'm really happy with the guitar and I'm already using it all over the place. It was good to see you, your son and Lindsey a couple weeks ago. Thanks so much to all of you for making the trek out to see us. The guys loved meeting you as well. It was a rough week and our time with you guys was one of the saving graces. Hope you're doing well and the weather's not too rough on you these days. Talk to you soon.