c.2009 Gypsy's Music Teardrop Mandolin

This mando was recently traded-in by a customer looking for an entirely different instrument. I think, if I'm guessing the serial number pattern right, that this was made in 2009. It's an interesting build in that it has an x-braced, induced-arched spruce top over Indian rosewood back and sides. The neck is mahogany and has a truss rod and the fretboard is compound-radiused and ebony. The tone is wonderful -- sweet and mellow but with significant volume and sustain. It's very similar to a good Martin A-style instrument in tone, to my ears, but with a bit more of an authoritative crisp overtone sequence and a lot more lingering warmth. I'm sure a lot of that has to do with the generous body depth.

When it came in, it had a nice aftermarket single-piece ebony bridge installed, but the compensation was for a mandola-style instrument so it didn't really make since to retain it. I fitted a standard-issue rosewood adjustable bridge to it and that improved the intonation and edged the tone a bit more forward and punchy.

These Gypsy's Music instruments are made by Walt Kuhlman, now in Maryland. This instrument was made when Walt was out in Arizona, though.

The accents on this instrument are in flamed Hawaiian koa: the pickguard and top and back binding are both made from it. I can't tell you enough how modern this feels despite the sweet, old tone: the neck joins at the 14th fret for enormous access, it has a long-scale board (13 7/8"), the fretboard extension is raised over the top, and the proportions actually remind me a lot of modern Portuguese mandolins (or "bandolims" in Brazil).

The headstock veneer and truss rod cover are rosewood and it has a bone nut.

Micro pearl dots... and that compound-radiused fretboard feels wonderful for melody playing! It's very, very slick. The frets are all in good order.

The pickguard is lightly unglued at its top and bottom edges but still securely on. Action is spot on at a hair under 1/16" both sides at the 12th fret.

I'm not sure if the Allen tailpiece is original but they're definitely tone-enhancers and easy to string. The instrument itself is in good shape but does show a minor scratch here and there.

Get a load of that rosewood... and the koa binding!

The tuners are replacements. A buddy borrowed this from me to try it out for a couple days and said, "Hey, it won't stay in tune!" -- turns out the set-screws on the rear were just very loose and they're just fine, now (yes, folks, they should be tightened once in a while... heh heh).

Pretty classy.

Here you can see the light "induced arch" to the top.

Yup... and it has a case.

...and there's that ebony bridge with the curious compensation. Sounds good, looks great, but it's certainly not going to fly with standard mandolin string sets (like the light, 34w-10 set on it right now). And just for reference... this had what felt like 40w to 11 on it and the neck and body were just fine for that. I preferred the feel and timbre of a light set on it, though.

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