John Sullivan F5 Mandolin for Larry Berger, December 2001

Audio Clips (mp3) of Radim Zenkl
Audio Clip 1 chord melody with blazing rhythmic accents followed by some scales
Audio Clip 2 brief chord melody, then brief single note melody, followed by a chorus of Radim's composition Twin Peaks
Radim tried out this mandolin at my lesson with him 12/13/01. The instrument was first strung up about ten days earlier and had been played at most a total of about twenty hours. The recording was made informally with a Sharp MT90 MD recorder and two Shure MX100 omni-directional mics placed on a desk two or three feet from Radim. Radim subsequently told me that if he knew I had started recording, he would have been more careful about the tuning. Each clip is about 1:30 in length.


Photos of Completed Mandolin
Click each image below to display low res photos (50k to 100k each) or click each "high res" link to display higher res photos (100k to 400k each). [Photos by Jon Sievert]

  Photos During Construction
Click each image below to display photos (photos are generally less than 35k each). [Photos by John Sullivan]
Full view  low res   high res
"The Lamp" (Explanation of name.)
Top  low res   high res
The re-curve "rim" is fairly steep; it starts less than a half inch from the edge--you can see the grain changes there. John makes the bridge himself, and the saddle is tipped slightly toward the tailpiece, like on a violin.
Scroll/fingerboard  low res   high res
Slightly wider neck width; back of neck is thinner and rounded instead of V-shaped; medium-sized frets; scooped fingerboard extension with removable pickguard (two screws)
One-piece back  low res   high res
One-piece big-leaf Oregon Maple
Side view  low res   high res
Sides are cut from the same wood as the back
Peghead  low res   high res
Note the discreet "Sullivan" in the ebony truss rod cover
Inlay  low res   high res
See construction photos for details
Peghead back  low res   high res
Waverly tuners (gold, MOP buttons)
Larry Berger  low res   high res
Thrilled new owner
Wood for one-piece back  low res
Big-leaf Oregon Maple. Actual mandolin back is the reverse side of this piece. Sides come from same wood.
Wood for Red Spruce top  low res
Top wood has been joined
Close-up of wood for Red Spruce top  low res
Close-up of wood
Wood for neck  low res
Neck is a one-piece
Carved top  low res
Red Spruce carved top
Carved back  low res
Big-leaf Oregon Maple
Assembled sides and reinforcements  low res
Including scroll block
Side view of assembled sides and reinforcements  low res
Sides are cut on quarter so they will be more stable and will show a bit more figure; they are cut from same wood as the back
Carved top, assembled carved back and sides, raw neck wood  low res
Last view like this of the inside of the back!
Stained top  low res
Top before finishing
Stained back  low res
Back before finishing
Stained side  low res
Side before finishing. Note late taper of neck to body (thanks Radim for this idea) and fairly thin and rounded-back contour of neck--I find this easier to play.
Custom inlay line drawing (left) and inlay before installation (right)  low res
Co-designed Larry and Pam Kelly with input from John, Larry Robinson, and others; research and all artwork by Pam Kelly; cut and assembled by Larry Robinson, master inlay artist, using about a half dozen different types of abalone and MOP including black pearl. John does not inlay his name at the top of the peghead a la "The Gibson" but instead etches it discreet, black on black, in the ebony truss rod cover. That leaves more room for an inlay than usual. John typically places a single flowerpot higher up the peghead than it's usually found. We decided to try to come up with a design that evoked the historic Gibson double flowerpot while personalizing the instrument by incorporating three designs from three different Persian rugs (the flower, the vase, and the hanging lamp as found in a mosque at the bottom). John often names his mandolins and he called this one "The Lamp." Pam, Larry R. and John did an incredible job!
Regular double flowerpot inlay design line drawing  low res
For reference, regular Gibson-style double flowerpot used before the advent of truss rod covers
Vase detail in Persian rug  low res
Inlay vase was based upon this design