- Type: People Who Play
Here's a picture of me with my Bighorn. My wife took it and I'm kind of surprised she didn't make me smile but then it's the way I usually face the camera. It's probably where my Scotch-Irish shows the most, other than my taste in music. You can see I've got my Tonegard, my McClung armrest and my Bailey strap in place. While functional in their own right, each is also a memento of my mandolin journey. I also chose to wear my 2008 Camp Bluegrass shirt. That is where my transition from a guitar player that dabbled in mandolin to a mandolin player began.
Every day my Bighorn gets better. I read somewhere, maybe on your site, that a maple/sitka mandolin takes about 50 hours to come in. If that's true I might have to get a seatbelt. When I play if something isn't right I know it's me. Adjust my focus and bingo there it is, just what I expected. Like my standard practice I won't do anything to the setup for at least a month. Right now I'm thinking I might want to lower the nut action just a hair to reduce the force required for those first fret fingerings but I want everything settled in first.
This my first mandolin with a fully fretted extension. I know some people have them scooped out but I don't want to do that. I notice with the superior volume of the Bighorn I don't have to pick as hard. With less force, and relaxation of tenseness, comes more control and I can dance the pick right over the extension without clacking. I note that scooping is not common among the top players so that suggests it's a control issue not a mandolin issue. I have considered a slight increase in bridge action on the treble side.
One evening, during this last week, I read through the introductions to the people who work at Sound to Earth. As I read about the parts for which each is responsible and considered my mandolin I was very pleased to make that human connection. The level of care you describe shows up in every Weber mandolin I've seen. Sure some are fancier but each is well served on its own. And a special note to Vern Brekke: Thank you so much for designing a traditional bridge that does not cut into the ball of my thumb on my picking hand.
In my Mandolin Cafe discussions, I note that I buy off the rack. The primary reason being I can hear what I'm getting. The second reason but just as important is that I am getting the luthier's best work toward his concept. That is what I want, to know that Bruce Weber has laid his hands on this wood and shaped it to be the best representation of his vision as possible. It is "The Weber". I would like to know more. Hints on the website and elsewhere suggest that the Bighorn design is very special and maybe his favorite. It's a little bigger - how so? It uses the same wood as the Fern - what's the impact of that? Is it his favorite and why? Gearheads like me like to know these things. I know Christian modesty argues against boasting but the honest truth made available to those who care is not boasting, it's sharing your vision.
I hope you're weathering this economic storm. Things may be tight but I think future is reasonably bright for the music business. I know many baby boomers, myself included, who are just loosing interest in the things we used to care about, like sports and travel and stress. I think personal hobbies and avocations, like music making, will take more hold with time (and encouragement). We see our local jams getting more popular ever month. Musicianship is a skill that's built to last beyond your ability, the memory of which will be more comforting than stuffing in one more football game. I hope that you do not worry that what you make is inappropriate in times of need. It is always a time of need, you can't change that but you can lift the burden off the common man. Playing music makes me function better in all aspects of my life, it refreshes me.
I wrote my long tale of acquisition as a cathartic process to deal with my feelings from the effort. I hope Tony has shared my journey with you and I would welcome your comments, on the Mandolin Cafe thread or by e-mail. Feel free to reference the thread to anyone you think might be aided by the process examination, maybe they just need to know that it is tough but logically approachable. If my travels carry me anywhere near, I would love to visit you factory. You're also welcome to reference my comments as you would like.
Thank you so much for building this magical instrument (I promise I'm smiling on the inside),