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The Weber Yellowstone Series and Up!

By Michael Eck

You’ll know when you’re ready for a Yellowstone, a Diamondback, a Vintage or a Fern. These mandolins represent a standard of excellence unparalleled in the world of stringed instruments.

In 2018, as Weber is celebrating 21 years of perfecting tradition, these distinctive high end models have only gotten better, building on the legend with new finishes, new body sizes and classic dovetail neck joints that make the player feel like an extension of the instrument.

The Yellowstone has long been the benchmark for Weber—existing at once as an affordable, professional grade musical tool and an object of rare beauty. Form and function are defined by the Yellowstone, whether in A or F configurations.

Triple A Sitka tops provide the classic mandolin sound. Defined, sparkling highs; rich, throaty mids; and a barking bottom end that supports every chop, pushing through the spectrum of a bluegrass combo just as easily as offering a string-driven snare drum for an old timey duo.

Across the line, and what a line, Yellowstones sport a new Burnt Amber burst finish conceptualized and created by luthier Dalton Bell. The gloss lacquer is durable, but thin enough to let not only the wood grain come through, but also all the sound your hands care to coax out.

Yellowstone mandolins, as always, are available in both A and F styles, with oval or f-holes. That’s enough variety, sonically and visually, to please any Weber player.

But, as introduced at NAMM this summer, the exquisite line has expanded to include the entire mandolin family—a trait unique to the Yellowstone.

Want a deeper sound than your mandolin can offer? That’s easy, there’s a Yellowstone mandola. Tuned like a viola, it has a buttery throb. All the fingerings are the same, and you’ll sort out the different chord names by the end of your first jam, gig or Irish seisun.

The octave mandolin keeps not only the chord fingerings, but the chord names, too. You may need to update your approach to a few favorite fiddle tunes, but you’ll be rewarded by the unique growl and guitar-like sustain.

The Yellowstone mandocello is the big daddy of the clan, dropping that mandola tuning (CGDA) an octave lower, with a sound that can move a mountain or a heart.

The F-style f-hole bodies on these larger Yellowstones are visually stunning, proving every bit as much the conversation piece as the enormous tones themselves. And, of course, each of these Yellowstones also sport the newly-developed Weber dovetail neck joint.

Do be careful. Try one and you’ll likely want the whole lot!

Look at the trademark Weber swallowtail scrollwork on the mandocello, for example. We dare you to stop!

A Yellowstone instantly sets you apart from the pack. Take it out of the case at a festival and listen to the hush, then the ooh. Play it onstage and your audience knows they are in for something special. More than that, at the end of the workday, treat yourself to a sound and feel that will take you away to exactly where you want to be.

If you’re already a Yellowstone owner, but still have the itch—because what mandolin player doesn’t—Weber can serve you, too.

The Heritage series has been updated with dovetail construction as well, the final element in a trio of instruments that dreams are made on. Hand-voicing goes a step further on these models, with delicate adjustments made even after the finish goes on. And the highly flamed maple backs on these babies are just as pretty as the front.

There really is nothing like a Weber Diamondback. It’s sleek, simple and beautiful, and, distressed, if you like, too. A thin satin finish over the spruce top, lets every note shine. But this isn’t just any spruce top. All Heritage series mandolins feature 3A red spruce, yes, the legendary Adirondack, known for its power, tone and depth.

The combination of the top and the tone bar bracing means your Weber Diamondback needs to be played to show its true voice, but it will sing like a siren to you as it develops and matures.

The Diamondback also boasts several features that are unique in the Weber line, including a scooped fingerboard extension that will absolve any pick click as you fly across the strings during a hot version of “Theme Time,” and a speed neck that allows you to fret every note of “Tennessee Blues” on the fly.

The latter means that the finish has been spared from the back of the neck, which is left raw and treated carefully with oil for an impossibly smooth, natural feel.

The Vintage may be Weber’s secret weapon, an ultra deluxe take on the classic F2, with an oval hole gracing a lovely Vintage Burst lacquer finish. It’s fully bound, right down to the headstock and the ebony pickguard. Wow. Unlike the Diamondback, it hides X-bracing under its 3A Adirondack top, giving it an immediate open and airy sound that loves lush jazzy chords as much as it does the crisp single lines of a classical score.

Finally, the Weber Fern. The sine qua non. The … well … the mandolin.

This is what Weber’s RA Beattie means when he talks about, as noted above, “perfecting tradition.”

The Fern is beauty personified. It is sound made sublime. A new gloss Fern Burst finish for 2018, Waverly F-style satin gold tuners, a James tailpiece, and, like the Vintage, an ebony pickguard bound with white-black-white purfling take the Fern to an entirely new level all its own.

There is nothing that can’t be done with a Fern in your hands.

You may know when your ready for a Yellowstone. The Fern, truth be told, will tell you when you’re ready for it.