My Morris A-5 Mandolin Build - From The Ground Up

Discussion in 'Acoustic Instruments' started by Lawn Jockey, Jan 28, 2008.


  1. Lawn Jockey

    Lawn Jockey Member

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    About mid-December 2007 I began thinking about having an A style mandolin built from a smaller luthier. I contacted three in my search, and ultimately chose Howard Morris.

    Howard builds mandolins (A, F, & 2-point) in Oregon. He has numerous builds, and very satisfied customers. His pricing is NOT astronomical like some of the other builders.

    In this thread I will try to document the build of my A-5 (should be delivered by March 2008) through emails from Howard, pictures, etc.

    So far, all we have are raw specs on what I wanted. They are:

    A-5 Style
    Bear claw spruce top
    Flamed maple B/S
    Radiused ebony fretboard
    .080 fretwire
    Vintage Sunburst finish
    Schaller "A-Style" tuners
    Hardshell Case

    Howard will be emailing me pics of the set(s) of bear claw spruce and maple for me to choose from. I will post these pictures when I receive them.

    Will update as needed, if anyone is remotely interested in watching/following this build from a great American builder.
     
  2. Lawn Jockey

    Lawn Jockey Member

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    Here are some pics of an A-5 that Howard is currently working on. I'll add the pics of the spruce and maple for my A-5 later.

    [​IMG]

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    This should look fantastic when it is completed. He's still got quite a bit of work left on this one.
     
  3. Lawn Jockey

    Lawn Jockey Member

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  4. Lawn Jockey

    Lawn Jockey Member

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    Here are the pics of the raw materials for my Morris A-5.

    Raw Bear Claw Spruce Top
    [​IMG]

    Raw Maple Back & Headstock Overlay
    [​IMG]

    I spoke with Howard at length this morning, and I will use his (standard, handmade) bone nut and his own (standard, handmade) radiused ebony bridge. I did choose to use Schaller A Tuners in nickel, as well as a nickel James Tailpiece. I had these items sent directly to Howard today for use on my mandolin. He'll set it up and string it with J74's.

    He will use the same burst finish as the one pictured above in this post (tobacco), in nitrocellulose lacquer.

    He indicated the actual build will start this weekend.
     
  5. Lawn Jockey

    Lawn Jockey Member

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    The burst pattern will have a larger center of yellow exposing the figure of the sitka and maple.

    The S/N is 118.

    Upgraded to an Eastman CAMD-16 fiberglass hardshell case.
     
  6. texasdave

    texasdave Gold Supporting Member

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    I've had two of Howard's mandolins... The A-style was my personal favorite of the two... enjoy!
     
  7. Lawn Jockey

    Lawn Jockey Member

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    Howard just sent me pictures of the A he was working on when I placed my order. The pictures, in progress, are above dated January 28, 2008.

    Here it is complete:

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    Now I can't wait for mine.
     
  8. Lawn Jockey

    Lawn Jockey Member

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    Here's mine, assembly starts tomorrow:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  9. Lawn Jockey

    Lawn Jockey Member

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    Ready for the back............

    [​IMG]




    ....and a direct quote from the builder.......

    "This is going to be a very nice mandolin."

    I have to concur with Howard.
     
  10. Lawn Jockey

    Lawn Jockey Member

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    Ready for stain.....tomorrow:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  11. Lawn Jockey

    Lawn Jockey Member

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  12. Lawn Jockey

    Lawn Jockey Member

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    Seal coat..front...back...headstock (and inlay):

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  13. MikeB_18

    MikeB_18 Member

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    That's a beautiful mandolin!

    What are the main differences between an A and F style?
     
  14. Lawn Jockey

    Lawn Jockey Member

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    The F style has the scroll, and the fancy peghead. Think Bill Monroe.

    Tonally there is not much difference in an A and an F. You just get more "bang for your buck" when buying a handbuilt A than you do with an F.
     
  15. Lawn Jockey

    Lawn Jockey Member

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    Next update in about ten days. A lot of lacquer between now and then.
     
  16. Lawn Jockey

    Lawn Jockey Member

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    Complete....and will ship Monday:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

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    [​IMG]
     
  17. MikeB_18

    MikeB_18 Member

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    Awesome, I can't believe how much a coat of laquer brought out the burst and flame.
     
  18. Lawn Jockey

    Lawn Jockey Member

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    Thanks Mike. I imagine when I get it in hand (Wednesday), the play of the flame will be better in person.

    He put six coats of lacquer on....OH THE DEPTH!!
     
  19. MikeB_18

    MikeB_18 Member

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    Does he have a website? A quick Google search only turns up some dealers.
     
  20. Lawn Jockey

    Lawn Jockey Member

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    Mike, he doesn't have a website...and only one dealer that I'm aware of (most of his early work, Ozark Mountain Music).

    Mine is S/N 118 so it's fairly limited stuff.

    If you'd like his email address/phone number, let me know and I'll PM you.

    He has a STUNNER of a two-point that is currently for sale (completed about eight weeks ago). Other than that it's an order and wait (about ten weeks).

    He was a JOY to work with.
     

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