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Monthly Update 
March 2009
In This Issue
Product Highlights
Luthier's Tip
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Dear Luthiers,

Just in case...

Last month, I mentioned that we were evaluating two new F5 mandolin cases; a shaped and molded hardshell case and a square case that was styled after the original cases Gibson used for its Loar-signed F5 mandolins.

We've tested these two cases, and I am very comfortable with the construction, design, and how securely the instruments fit, and I am happy to announce that they are now part of our product line. While I will be describing them below, Kali will be working with our web expert, and it may take a few weeks to get them posted to our website (so, if you need one sooner, you can either call or email your order to us).

Along with the square case (when it gets posted to our site), we will also offer custom embroidery of your name and an image of an F5 mandolin on the case's cloth cover. I am especially excited about making the square case available to help fulfill and support the dream and image of the historic F5.

Both of these cases are a great addition to our product line, and I hope you find them to be the perfect way to protect and carry the mandolin you've built.

Thanks for building with us...

Perception, and how great is great?

One thing that has always struck my fancy is the incredible attention to detail most of you apply when building instruments and just how this contrasts to the work done by early luthiers. In fact, it prompts many philosophical questions about how greatness is measured, what is greatness predicated on, where and how the concept of greatness started, and where it will end.

To my mind, there are basically four steps in the art of luthierie: stimulus, conception, execution, and result. "Stimulus" speaks to how and why the luthier is motivated to build. What his or her needs are. What fufills them. Why they have taken up the craft.

"Conception" refers to how well conceived the design is. How accurate it is as a replica, how clever it is in its features that depart from the norm, or how unusual it is as a completely new design. "Execution" is all of the work and attention to detail that begins with the initial selection of wood and continues through every process up to and including the final buffing. And, the "result" is, of course, a combination of how the instrument looks, how it feels, and how it sounds.

Luthiers differ in their approach to each of these aspects, some focus on one phase more than another. And some luthiers, usually those at the top of their craft, balance them all equally and consider no one aspect more or less important than the other.

It is interesting then, that we sometimes surpass what we believe to be excellent. We look to the great work of the masters like Stradivari, Guarnari, Gibson, and Martin with such awe, and hope we can in some small way come close to their great creations.

At IBMA in October 2008, David Harvey, Gibson's manager of the mandolin team, and I shared some ideas about why the work during the period of 1917-1925 was so careless.  "Before that time," David said, "Gibson's attention to detail was excellent, and I think it was because of the distraction of World War I and the fact that many factory managers were pulled away to help with the war effort [as was Lloyd Loar during this period] that things just slipped a bit."
F5 Scroll
As this photo of a Loar-signed F5 scroll reveals, the binding work is not as spectacular as the binding many of you are doing today. Yet, if you did binding like this, it would certainly not be considered to be "like the original." The flip side is that if you do binding - or some other detail - perfectly well, it will most likely be better than the original (assuming we're comparing it to an original F5).

Look closely at the excellent and greatly admired work of early master builders. Their imperfection is marvelous and yet we'd dare not copy it.

It's all about perspective and perception.
Product Highlights

F5 Case and Cover LOAR STYLE F5 CASE AND COVER - Here's a new case that is a wonderful replica of the original case Gibson provided with its F5 mandolins in the 1920s. This case features a rugged canvas moss green cover with zipper and flap. The shell is well built and covered in a durable matte black vinyl and features satin nickel hardware and a strong but comfortable, sewn handle. The inside of the case is covered in dark green velvet and partitioned just like the original case with two large open compartments and a hinged string box. Case weight, without cover, is 9.5 pounds. The part number is #2000, and the price is $299.00 (including a plain dark green canvas cover).

- This is a great case to handle all the rigors of the road. This case features a shiny black durable fiberglass cover with three snap hinges. Steel loops are fitted to the case cover where you can attach the handy shoulder strap (included). The inside of the case is covered in dark green velvet and there is a hinged string compartment. Secure, strong, lockable, and only 6.2 pounds. The part number is #2010, and the price is $199.00.

NOTE: Please consult the Shipping & Returns page on our website for a P&H table.
Luthier's Tip: Knowing the difference between flamed and curly

Some builders say "flamed" when they mean "curly," but if you have a copy of Siminoff's Luthiers Glossary, you would have learned that flamed maple is a technique and curly maple is a figure in the wood.

The curly figure in woods (curl occurs in other woods beside maple) is caused by the tree sagging from its own weight. Typically this happens when the tree's heavy branches have forced the trunk to be drawn to one side causing the vertical section under the branches to buckle.

Flaming is a technique of putting dark lines on wood to make the wood look as if it were figured. Early rifle makers moved their gun stocks over the flame of a candle to create a "flamed" appearance. Some early violin-family luthiers pulled smoldering rope across the backboards and ribs of their instruments (see photo) to give the wood a curly appearance.
Flame vs Curly
To the trained eye (as I hope this Luthier's Tip column helps you be), the curly maple is obvious when you rock the wood back and forth under light. The curly figure will appear to be somewhat translucent and its image will change as you move the wood. Flamed images will be very static and have no translucent attributes.

Product of the Month: Peghead Template Special

Peghead TemplatesOur laser-cut peghead and body templates are perfect forms as can be proven by
laying them over the original instruments they were derived from. Each template is made in easy-to-find translucent green acrylic plastic and includes peg holes, centerlines, and truss rod pocket openings. For the month of March, we have a special $5.00 savings when you buy any three of our nine peghead templates of your choice. Limit one set-of-three offer per customer. Enter peghead5 when ordering online.
Save $5.00
Peghead Template Special
March's Product of the Month: Save $5.00 on your order any three of our nine peghead templates. Limit one discount offer per customer. This discount may not be used with any other offer or discount. Enter peghead5 when ordering online.
Offer Valid: March 5, 2009 through March 31, 2009