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Your Weber Mandolin

Your Weber Mandolin

By Michael Eck

Bend, Oregon. It’s a growing city of 90,000, nestled in the shadow of the snow-capped Cascade Mountains. Juniper trees line the streets, scenting the air with cedar and gin. A sense of community, communion even, is evident everywhere, with nature and with people.

Small, simple, beautiful homes reflect the region’s past as a logging town; modern sculpture dots the roundabouts that direct traffic flow. It’s a place of craft breweries, live music, outdoor sports of all stripes and deep connections to the land.

The high desert climate—cool nights and sunny days—suits the lifestyle. It’s a place where driven people can work hard, and earn their relaxation.

It’s the perfect place to build the traditional mandolin.

Weber Mandolins is proud to do so, in a dedicated facility on the east-side of Bend, which, while state of the art, feels just like home. Weber’s six luthiers combine enthusiasm and experience, making every instrument a precise, functional musical tool and a visual work of art. They are of a piece with Bend, sportsmen, fishermen, musicians … And each—Ryan, Eric, Mike, Marty, Dalton, Scott—is a committed craftsman, passionate, innovative, caring and ready to make your mandolin.

The great mandolins of Weber’s first decades were named for the powerful western rivers that course through Montana—Gallatin, Bitterroot, Yellowstone … Those names retain their might today, and form the backbone of the current Weber line, each boasting improvements in sound quality, fit and finish. Right now, Weber, in Bend, is making the premium mandolin, the best traditional mandolin available anywhere.

The Weber sound is unique, classic and rich. Building on the woody, fundamental chop of the classic F Style mandolin, Weber introduces a sweetness that broadens the palette while never straying from the iconic mode. Warm, round, bright—it’s all there in your hands. Bluegrass, yes, but jazz, pop, klezmer and Brazilian choro feel right at home on a Weber, too.

Each Weber instrument—your mandolin—begins the same way, with quality wood, sustainably sourced. Owner Tom Bedell is an outspoken advocate for the forest, and no clear-cut timber is found in any Weber made in Bend. Bedell and his team have many partners, always searching for the best available maple, spruce, mahogany and other fine tonewoods, while working to maintain the woodlands for future generations. Stewardship is key.

The clean lines of the Gallatin hark back to the original Logan, Montana shop. The unbound body is player friendly, comfortable and encourages hours of enjoyment on the couch or on stage. It’s the entry point to the Weber line and a great place for young musicians to begin their journey. It is also built with the same keen eye and ear for detail as every instrument in the line.

Is it your first Weber?

Like the Gallatin, the Bitterroot is available in a variety of shapes and sound hole configurations. The classic F style, with F holes, speaks directly to Lloyd Loar’s archetypal Florentine design, defined by its beautiful scroll, body points and stylized headstock. Even more traditional is the same body shape with a Vintage oval sound hole and modified x-bracing—an instrument that was the ne plus ultra of the early 19th century mandolin orchestra.

For many players, A style mandolins are just as aesthetically pleasing, combining remarkable playability, a simpler body shape and a nuanced sound in both oval hole and F hole variations.

Weber even offers stunning two- and three-point models for discerning patrons looking for something just a little bit different. And Weber has long been known for its own tradition of pioneering large body instruments like the mandola, octave mandolin and mandocello.

Beginning in 2018, double-bound, full gloss Yellowstone models, and those that follow it in the line, will benefit from, in addition to advanced finishes across the board, a newly developed dovetail neck joint. A foundational element of classic mandolins, the dovetail rewards the player with a resonance that sings throughout the length of the instrument. Looking forward by looking back, head luthier Ryan Fish and his team have studied the classic instruments of the past and found modern ways to improve them, resulting in mandolins that will be considered the absolute benchmark in years to come.

With its tone bar bracing and rich, full sound, Yellowstone F style mandolins are bluegrass favorites, found at festivals, workshops and mainstages across the country. And the Diamondback, with a speed neck, quintessential sunburst and distressed thin finish is as ‘grass as it gets. If you want to be Bill Monroe, this is your Weber.

At the top of the line, The Heritage Series: Diamondback, Vintage and Fern models ascend to dreamy heights. If you play the mandolin, this is the goal. Remarkable in every way, embracing all the care that makes the Weber line so special throughout, but taking it to the highest level, the Heritage Series will make you one with your instrument; with your mandolin.

As we move into our third decade, we at Weber have a simple goal—to make the best traditional mandolin available anywhere. We want to make your mandolin.