The Craftsman's Journey: Part VII

 by Midnight Freemasons Contributor
Michael Shirley

The classic form of an F-5 mandolin hasn’t varied much since Lloyd Loar invented it and Bill Monroe made it desirable above all others. Some luthiers have paid homage to it while changing it a good deal, most notably the great John Monteleone, with his elongated scroll and entirely different headstock. But there’s something unexplainable about the standard F-5 that appeals to people like me: it’s just looks right.

That said, the stain colors can vary a lot, and can provide personality to an otherwise standard form. A classic tobacco sunburst looks entirely different than a blonde clearcoat, and a good luthier can match the look to the player’s personality. Joe matched both our personalities: he wanted an old-fashioned look, which wasn’t surprising, given that he’s a pretty old-fashioned guy, despite the fact that he builds computers for fun. I wear a three-piece suit with a pocket watch on a gold chain, so it wasn’t rocket science to figure out my taste. “It’ll be brown,” he said. As I said, we’re friends. But what a brown it turned out to be!

This is the seventh installment of Michael Shirley's Mandolin Series.  To be continued . . .
W.B. Michael H. Shirley is Past Master of Tuscola Lodge No. 332 and Leadership Development Chairman for the Grand Lodge of Illinois. He's also a member of the Illinois Lodge of Research, the Scottish Rite, the York Rite, Eastern Star, and the Tall Cedars of Lebanon. He's also a member of the newly-chartered, Illini High Twelve No. 768 in Urbana-Champaign. The author of several articles on British history, he teaches at Eastern Illinois University.

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