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Building quality, hand-crafted mandolins and fiddles, one at a time.

Building a Pomeroy Pair: Matching F-5 and F-4

In January of 2013 Josh and I were contacted by a gentleman, Randy Knipe, asking for a matching pair of mandolins, specifically an F-5 and F-4. This was a unique order for us and we gratefully took on the project.

Josh has been working with me in the Pomeroy shops now for over 6 years. We typically work on our own projects, rarely working "together" on the same instrument, so this project offered an opportunity to really get together, father and son, designing and building two custom mandolins that would "match" in many regards.

Procedure in our shop for building custom instruments typically involves a great deal of exchange with the customer. And so with this project, before any construction began, we embarked on a long list of specifics that generally start with the customer's expectations regarding tone and playability, his/her ability level and understanding of basic design concepts (that can vary even in mandolins that are regarded as standardized, like the "F-5" and "F-4"). These especially carry with them a lot of pre-conditioned notions that are sometimes true, but not always (like lots of things!). Good communication in this regard up front is critical, setting the groundwork for a successful project.

And so once the project has settled in conceptually, there are many decisions to be made around the details. Occasionally a customer will come to us with an exact list already, but generally not. We encourage and engage in discussion around much of it.

With this project Randy was involved every step of the way, helping to decide on wood type and species; neck width, depth and profile; nut width; string spacing; fingerboard radius; hardware (he chose a James tailpiece, Golden Age Relic tuners), custom inlay on the headstock, coloring and finish and finally the case (He chose a beautiful custom double mandolin case from Cedar Creek in vintage leather). And then toward the end decisions around strings and action took us to completion.

As this was a unique project for us, it took a bit longer for us to complete than it normally would. Randy was kind and patient. We started construction in the Spring and worked through the Summer, into the Fall. The mandolins were complete by October but we had a delay with the custom case from the Cedar Creek shop in West Virginia. This gave Josh and I some extra time to get "acquainted" with the newly created mandolins. We always value this time. On one cold Fall morning we even traveled to Ken Dravis' Aspenleaf Recording Studio in Grand Junction and made a short video that features us playing the mandolins together (as seen above).

On a bitterly cold and icy morning in Dec, I traveled with the completed package to Rifle CO and met Randy there at Starbucks. He seemed quite pleased! We look forward to further exchanges with him as he gets to know his new mandolins.

- Don Paine, Dec. 17 2013

To hear more of their song, Through the Gate, please visit the Pomeroy YouTube page: http://youtu.be/aBEOvP23DLE

About Pomeroy Instruments

The signature Pomeroy sound... Rich, crisp tones that are at once full and resonant but with excellent pop and bark, all the way up the neck... every Bluegrass players dream.

We harvest our own Colorado Engelmann spruce! Learn more about our harvesting efforts...

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Contact us
Call Us Don Paine
   p: (970) 274-0659
   e: don@pomeroyinstruments.com
Josh Paine
   p: (970) 930-2022
   e: josh@pomeroyinstruments.com

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