Smakula

Fretted

Instruments

PO Box 882, Elkins, West Virginia 26241

304-636-6710

Phone Hours; 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM, Eastern Time, Monday through Friday and occasionally on Saturday.

Mandolins, contact us...

Page Updated 8-15-2017

Please Visit our Home Page for links to our banjos, guitars, fiddles and more.


Mandolins:

Just In; 1919 Gibson A-2. Nice, with original case; $1,800. More information coming soon.

2012 Doug Unger Artist. Undoubtedly one of the more fanciful mandolins this shop has ever had. With its black top and bountiful pearl inlay, it looks sharper than James Bond holding a machete. This mandolin is really a work of art to behold. It has a black Sitka spruce top, and mahogany stained curly maple back, sides, with a 14 1/4" scale length ebony fingerboard on the neck. Speaking of the neck, if you're like me and love a substantial, huge mandolin neck, this one has a great 1 1/4" nut width and the feel of an old F-4. The headstock overlay and pickguard is modern epoxy based faux tortoiseshell, and it looks terrific. So does the pearl and faux-tortoise rope purfling. The body shape, which was inspired by a 1920s Bacon mandolin, really ties the look together. So yes, I've been gushing about the looks like a 14-year-old girl at a One Direction concert (if that doesn't mean anything to you, count your blessings). How does it sound? It has a strong, crystalline high end with a mellower low end reminiscent of a great sounding vintage Gibson A style instrument. You could be wearing a Kid Rock T-shirt with more cigarette burns than sleeves and you'd still be the classiest person in the room if you were also playing this mandolin. $5,000 with hard shell case. Sorry, Sold. Photos

1991 Flatiron A-5 Artist. This instrument, made by Gibson during the "Mandolins in Montana" years contains the highest quality curly maple and spruce. The bound peghead overlay is inlaid with The Flatiron and a tasteful floral design. The 13-15/16" scale ebony fretboard has 3/16" dots and medium (.080") fretwire. Tone is superb. Full across all the strings with a bright bark to cut through the sound of a 3.5 pound flat head five string. One of the most magical combinations of spruce, curly maple, ebony and lacquer to be signed by Bruce Webber. With it's original Harptone case, this hard to find model is $3,000. Photos

New Kentucky KM-1050 The importers of Kentucky mandolins, Saga Musical Instruments, has an eye for the vintage look and modern practicality. The KM-1050 is exactly that sort of mandolin. The Michigan curly maple back, sides, and neck are complemented by an Adirondack red spruce top. The nitrocellulose lacquer finish is an excelent recreation of the Cemona brown sunburst of the 1920's. The radiused ebony fretboard has the traditional 13-7/8" scale, but the nut is a full 1-1/8" wide to give a more comfortable feel to us humans with bigger hands than they had in 1923. The fretboard is also scooped after the 22nd fret for pick clearance. Hardware includes silver plated reverse gear Gotoh tuners with pearloid knobs. The tailpiece has also silver plated to match. A lot of tone comes out of this instrument. The closed chording has the chop you expect and the single string full clarity that doesn't break up with aggressive playing. All in all a bluegrass mandolin you would be proud to own and not be intimidated by any instrument in the jam. The current retail price of this mando and hard tweed case combination is $2624.95. Our competitive discount price is $1,850. Photos

New Kentucky KM-250. Here Is a mandolin with many appealing features. Carved top and back, thin nitrocellulose finish, attractive inlay, and amazing sound. One construction detail that is an issue is, in my opinion, the factory fretting is not up to the quality of the rest of the instrument. So, here are SFI we take care of that problem with a profesional refret. The best of all worlds in a good looking, superior sounding mandolin for $500. Comes with a gigbag, Sorry, Sold. Photos

New Kentucky KM-252. The same construction details as the KM-250, but with an attractive amber finish. This model constantly has very wonderful figured maple for the back and sides. Just like the KM-250, we reworked the fretboard and frets to make them play with precision. The one we have available had some minor finish flaws on the neck, so we stripped the neck finish and transformed it to a "speed neck" as endorsed by Karl Smakula. It is a superior sounding and precise playing instrument for price far less than similar instruments. Price is $450 including a gigbag. Sorry, Sold. Photos

New Kentucky KM-150. An entry-level mandolin that has impressed the heck out of me at the annual misic industry, trade show. The KM-150 is an A shape with F-holes. The neck, back, & sides are solid maple. The top is solid carved spruce. Sunburst finished in a dark Cremona brown for the vintage look. Things I like about this instrument is the great tone for a modest price and the slightly larger neck that fits my hand as well as the 1918 A & F model Gibson instruments I grew up playing. For the $400 price you will receive the mandolin, a Superior Trailpak gigbag and complete set up in our shop to make the mando play it's best. Sorry, Sold. Photos

1914 Weymann Mandolute. Likely March 10, 1913 was cause for great celebration at 1010 Chestnut St, Philadelphia, PA. Harry W. Weymann was granted a patent a week earlier for his Mandolute. Though essentially a mandolin, the Mandolute has it's own thing going on (I'm sure that's exactly how Mr. Weyman described it at the yearly music industry trade shows) with a tensioned top and back and a slightly long 14-5/16" scale. Our example is in very nice condition with vivid curly maple back and sides and a natural spruce top. The patent number label and gold peghead decal are both as crisp as a factory fresh bag of Herr's potato chips.Tone is similar to a Martin flat instrument, but with more clarity and volume. With a gigbag this kinda odd, very cool and ultimately playable mando is $750 Photos

1918 Gibson F-4 Top & Peghead Overlay with Doug Unger Back, Sides & Neck. There are a few things in this world I just don't get. Like the amateur painter in Borja, Spain "restoring" a fresco in her local church, or our neighbor that likes to take his dog out for rides on secondary country roads so the dog can enjoy barking at deer. And how about pepperoni rolls where the internal meat product is ground rather than sliced and that time in the 1960's when Gibson F-4 mandolins were so inexpensive that mandolin builders were removing the tops and necks from one of that Kalamazoo, Michigan company's highest grade instruments to convert them to the more popular for bluegrass F-5 style. That infraction of sensibility still has me scratching my head and left a few necks and tops kicking around the dusty workshops of certain craftsmen. About a dozen years ago master inlay artist and instrument maker Doug Unger found a nest of these cast-offs and thought to make new back and sides and a new neck to bring the new top back to life. The premium grade maple of the new parts are amazing to behold and the tone is full and bell-like. The new maple neck is even a little bit bigger than the Gibson originals of the pre-Loar era, but much more comfortable to those of us that dislike the tiny F-5 necks. Set up is precise and sweet enough to play Grey Eagle without a single flub. An original F-4 would cost you about $6,000. This combination of new and old (with a properly intonated fretboard) will set you back $3,700 and a vintage hard case is included. Sorry, Sold. Photos

1918 Gibson F-2. 1918 had it's share of scary news. World War I, Spanish influenza epidemic raging around the world, and the deaths of two instrument making icons; Cleveland banjo maker J. Lafayette French and carved top mandolin pattentor Orville H. Gibson. But all was not doom and despair. In the musical instrument world Lloyd A. Loar first signed a contract to work for Gibson Mandolin & Guitar Co. and this sweet F-2 was manufactured in Gibson's Kalamazoo, Michigan factory. OK, we at least think this F-2 was made in 1918. As is common, the penciled serial number on the label is faded and it does not look like a factory order number was ever stamped on the neck block., but from all indications 1918 is the year. In addition to the normal Gibson specifications of a red sunburst top, the birch back and sides are the dark ox blood red, and the neck is natural mahogany with mother of pearl peghead inlay that lets you know this is not just any Gibson, but "The Gibson"! As this instrument needed a refret on arrival to our shop, we chose to replace the original poorly intonated fretboard with a new ebony board that does play in tune. Also a new reproduction pickguard was installed. Tone is warm with great sustain. This is a very nice example of a well played, but not abused 99 year old mandolin. With the original case the price is $3,700 Photos

1917 Gibson H-1 Mandola. It's been raining Gibson mandolas here lately. This is the third to pop up in the shop in the last 4 months and there is one other in the repair queue waiting their turn. In 1917 Gibson offered their H-1 mandolas with a natural spruce top and dyed red birch back and sides, mahogany neck and an ebony fretboard. This instrument has all those proper original appointments and includes the original pickguard and tailpiece cover, though the actual tailpiece is a replacement. Neck width is 1-9/32" wide, 15-3/4" scale length and body width of 11-1/2". Notable repairs; this mandola has been refretted and the top has additional bracing in the top to combat the somewhat common (for this era) top sinkage. Holding up quite well, thank you. The tone is exactly as you would expect with a strong C string and a great balance across the others. In very good condition and includes the original hard case but not an umbrella. Price is $1,900 Photos

1921 Gibson H-1 Mandola. Low C. That's what you get when you buy a vintage Gibson mandola. OK, you can go lower with a Gibson mando-cello, but we don't have any of those for sale currently. In 1921 Gibson was upgrading their instruments to make their instruments easier to assemble. The most notable is the adjustable bridge. This example has the PAT'D JAN 18-21 (not shouting, it's just stamped in all caps) stamp on the bridge base. Also the pickguard attachment hardware added a little metal. As with all nearly 100 year old instruments we go through them for optimum construction and playability. What's new on this mandola? A properly intenerated ebony fretboard bound with grained ivoroid like the original. New Stewart-MacDonald Golden Age tuners for tuning ease. And a few minor attachment parts on the pickguard. This solidly excellent Sheraton brown H-1 is $2,600 and we include a hard case. Sorry, Sold. Photos

1936 Gibson A-2. As played by Bobby Osborne during his brief yet incredible stint with Jimmy Martin, King of Bluegrass. While this mandolin won't help you hit the tenor line on "Dog Bite Your Hide," you can at least look right trying, Its got a spruce top, maple back and sides, and a mahogany neck. The neck has a very comfortable 1 1/4" width and C shaped profile, though the 14 1/8" scale length of the non-elevated radiused rosewood fretboard takes a little getting used to. SFI added wood to the shrinking back and refretted it, but otherwise this is an original F-hole equipped Gibson mandolin from the '30s for a price that isn't higher than 20 year old Bobby Osborne's vocal range. $1,500 with original chipboard case. Photos

1918 Gibson A. Looks rougher than James Brown after a DUI arrest, but like the Godfather of Soul, sounds fantastic even at an advanced age. You know, on classic hits like "It's a Man(dolin)'s World" and "Papa's Got a Brand New (Gig)bag". This one features a new 13-7/8" scale properly intonating fretboard and new Golden Age tuners, so it is far more user friendly than many of these early Gibson mandolins. The neck is a comfortable 1 1/4" width with a pronounced v-shape. The spruce top has a few gouges and patches of missing finish, and the back, while securely attached, shows signs of shrinkage. But if you want a great sounding and playing oval-hole mandolin, this is cheaper, cooler, and likely better sounding than anything you could get new. Snap it up now because deals this great don't last longer than the time it takes to watch the interview James Brown gave to CNN while really high. $1,100 with hardshell case. Photos

1959 Gibson A-40. This model Gibson mandolin was rather popular from its introduction in 1948 until it's discontinuance in 1970. Gibson did an amazing job in producing a high quality, modest priced instrument in this time period. Back and sides are laminated mahogany and the top is solid carved Sitka spruce. This one has a re-glued peghead ear and new tuners. We also decided that it was worth having a new ebony fretboard for good intonation and precision playing. And you have no worries about being stopped at international borders for a few ounces of Brazilian rosewood. Plenty of wear, finish checks, and player dings, but a bargain for a US made mando that plays superbly. $650 and we include a gigbag. Photos

Circa 1918 Gibson F model mandolin Tuners with inlaid Handel knobs. A rare offering for a very desirable and hard to find part. Make your Gibson F-4 or F-2 100% again with these tuners. They are almost 100 year old and there is a certain amount of slop in the gearing, but they will hold tune as well as any. of a similar vintage Pictures are exactly what you will get. There are no peghead bushings or attachment screws included or available. Price is $500. Photos

1920s Washburn Banjo-Mandolin. Yes, its loud. But there is a surprising warmth and nuance to this banjo mandolin that is rare in any eight stringed, banjo head equipped instrument. The 10 3/4" maple rim has a donut style tonering, which would be responsible for any trace of tonal subtlety this instrument has. The well-worn neck has a 13 1/16" scale fingerboard and a 1 3/16" nut width. This would probably make a really nice five-string conversion with some help from your favorite neck craftsman, but if you want your neighbors to "enjoy" your version of "Daybreak in Dixie" too, its perfect as it is. $600 with original hardshell case. Pictures coming Soon.

1920's Weymann Style 40 Mandolin-Banjo. Like Will Smith's character in "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air," this banjo mandolin was West Philadelphia born and raised. While significantly older than Mr. Smith, this well preserved instrument has retained it's freshness through the decades just as he has. Anyway, the 10 1/2" rim and neck are both maple, and all hardware is original. The nut width is 1 1/4", and the scale length of the original refretted ebony fretboard is 14 3/16". And yes, it's loud, but it's a banjo mandolin so you knew that. $700 with original hardshell case. Photos

1925 Weymann Style 35 Mandolin-Banjo. This is a clean and interesting piece of Weyman's ingenuity. A 9" maple rim, with it's likely original calf skin head and the Weyman patented neck adjuster coupled with a one piece hard maple neck with a 13-7/8" scale fretboard. The big bonus with this instrument is the slip on resonator. Sure it's louder, but you also don't have to feel the neck adjuster dig into your belly when you stand up to play. The straight neck and recently dressed frets make this instrument play like a dream. We also made a custom compensated bridge so it plays in tune. Hmm The best of both worlds? Probably not, but this puppy has the punch to be heard in any jam session. From Jug band to alt rock this one will fit. In excelent condition and the price of $950 includes a boulder alpine gigbag. Photos

Late 1980s-Early 1990s Gibson F-5 case. If your late 80's-early 90's Gibson F-5L is minus its original Gibson branded hard case, look no further. This case is in excellent condition, with the only issues being a missing rivet on one of the corner stops, a couple small nicks and marks, and a torn tab on the bass side accessory compartment. The interior is a lush, fluffy red that brings to mind the wall carpet of a late 80s-early 90s casino in Atlantic City, though without the smell of years of absorbed cigarette smoke, spilled cosmopolitans, and sin. This maadolin luggage proudly retains the authentic smell of a late 1980's-early 1990's instrument case. $300. Photos

 

Shipping

We ship most of our instruments via UPS. Cost to ship a mandolin is $20 to $40. Cost to ship a guitar or banjo is $25 to $60. The cost of insurance is extra. We will be happy to quote before shipping.

Small goods like banjo heads and other parts cost $7 per order for Priority Mail shipping in the contenental US no matter what the order size. The cost of orders headed out of the contenental US will be quoted before they are shipped.

Sales Tax

We are legally obligated to charge 6% West Virginia sales tax on anything purchased here at the shop, or shipped within the state of West Virginia. We do not charge sales tax on orders sent out of state.

To Order
Please call us at 304-636-6710. For payment we accept checks and MasterCard and Visa. We also accept Paypal

Email; Occasionally a customer will let us know that the "Contact Us" button will not work on their computer. If you have that problem, please use sfi<at>smakula<dot>com You will have to change the <at> and <dot> to @ and .