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Lefty's Custom Instruments

There are many who wish a unique instrument built to their exact specification. Over the years I have built a good many one-of-a-kind stringed instruments from tiny to massive to fulfill a customer's dreams. Such things as 10-string mandolins, instruments to allow certain physical limitations and certainly personalized solid body guitars have been my pleasure to build. Also things as gold leaf inlays, rinestone topped guitars, etc. come along occasionally.

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Others have attempted to build an instrument from a kit and found it more challenging than advertised. There is a lot more to building a quality instrument than just glueing the parts together and slapping on finish. Such things as correct instrument tuning, fitting bridges, setting intonation and installing components require both the proper tools and a bit of experience to do correctly.

Unfinished Instruments

Let Lefty do the skilled work of building and tuning and provide a ready to play but unfinished instrument. Putting on a fine finish is very time consuming and thus adds considerably to the price of a custom instrument but with my written instructions and a lot of patience, you can do a professional job and save a ton of money.

 

Shown above is an F5 mandolin built from master grade Red Spruce and Birdseye Maple that is structuraly complete, properly tuned with single color binding and is ready to finish. Depending on materials selected, inlays and the degree of customization, prices vary from $600 to $1,200. Supply and fitting of nut, tuners, tailpiece and bridge can be added for a modest extra charge. Since most pre-fabricated mandolin kits cost from $400 to $600 and you do all the labor, this option is very cost competitive.

 

Custom Unique Instruments

I build unique one of a kind  stringed instruments when given the opportunity.

 

 This is a very custom octave mandolin (that can also be tuned as a tenor guitar) built on a enlarged A-style mandola body. It has 4 strings, one each G-D-A-E tuned one octave lower than a mandolin. When played in a mandolin ensemble, it blends perfectly and provides a serious bass. It has a Sitka Spruce top and Curly Red Maple back and neck. The fretboard, bridge and peghead veneers are Rosewood. The tuning machines are black Steinbergers. The binding is Rosewood with 3 mm pearl perflings and a pearl heel cap.

Peghead Options

The sky is the limit when selecting a peghead design. As long as there is room for the tuning machines and, if equipped, the truss rod nut anything is possible. Below are a few of both traditional and unique pegheads that I have built in just the past 5 years.

 

 

Bridges & Tails

 

The two most popular bridges, Lefty built Ebony lightweight on left and Lefty built Red Henry Maple mandola on right. Both have ivory string contacts.

Custom bridges. On the left a Lefty high response Ebony bridge with a Lefty built fossil ivory saddle for a very high mandola string set on the right a Lefty high response Ebony mandolin bridge with the standard ivory saddle.

Gold, Nickel, Bronze and lacquered Custom Lefty tailpieces with optional decorative disks. My trademarked leaping Orca is the most popular followed by the customized name disk. The Swarovski crystal star on an Ebony disk is but one of dozens of crystals and patterns available. The Sacconi tailpieces for violins and archtop guitars can be made from Ebony, Rosewood or Maple and trimmed or finished in a variety of ways.


 

Boomers

Lefty's Boomer Lefty's Boomer

The Boomer was invented by Lefty to fill a missing niche for stage entertainers. It has a perfectly round 11.0-inch diameter soundboard arched in a unique manner that generates exceptional response to string excitation. There is a secondary amplification chamber, similar to a megaphone, connected to the sound chamber via a tuned orifice. I offer two scale lengths, 18.60 for those most interested in Mandola tuning and 26.19 for banjo or octave mandolin. Contrary to mandolin family design standards, soundboards made from Alaskan Yellow Cedar provide superior excitation response when compared to the spruces. The backboard, while made from Red Maple, is significantly more flexible than a mandola, which dramatically alters the cavity’s resonance. The Boomer has four full-length strings plus a short fifth string at the fifth fret. With the correct string set, the Boomer can be tuned D3-G3-B3-D4 with the 5th string g4 like a banjo or G2-D3-A3-E4 with the short 5th string a4. With a heavier string set on the long scale version, you can achieve a lower register sound, similar to the mandocello, by tuning to C2-G2-D3-A3 with the short 5th string e4. Though an appreciable portion of the sound exits through the visible holes, the entire round portion of the soundboard and backboard also generate sound. The Boomer feels alive in your hands when played. The output volume of the acoustic Boomer is greater than a mandola, equal to that of a banjo or acoustic guitar but with its' own unique timbre. The removable fretboard extension is designed to enable humbucker pickup coils to be embedded with only the screw heads visible and in the tailpiece a Fishman endpin jack doubles as a strap button. The pickup is optimized for the Marshall MG series of amplifiers, which can cause ear bleed when desired. I also offer the Boomer with the K&K three sensor guitar piezoelectric pickup mounted under the bridge.

The Boomer is currently available in two configurations, the Signature grade Eagle and the Orca grade Blade. The Blade is finished in either white, green or black stain with the wood grain visible and the Eagle is finished with a unique stain set dubbed "Arizona Sunset"or any solid lacquer color. Preliminary pricing is posted below my mandolin family. This instrument is still evolving so minor changes in shape and tone may happen.

Lefty's Boomer Eye

The Eagle peghead is a stacked laminate of Maple/Padauk/Ebony with an Ebony fretboard. The Eagle's head is cut from Carera Marble. The Eagle is designed to accept a small battery and switch that lights a red diode in the Eagle's eye as an option.

Below is Blade Boomer number 1. It has an Alaska Yellow Cedar soundboard stained very dark green with a Curly Red Maple back also stained very dark green. The fretboard, peghead and tailpiece are cut from a single piece of very unique Birdseye Maple with the logo and fret markers done in Jade.

The optional battery that powers the Eagle's eye is on the left and the on/off switch is on the right. Note the Golden Age fifth string tuner with a pearl knob.

boomer tail

The Eagle's tailpiece is cut from solid Ebony with nickel fillister head screws securing looped strings. The Fishman Endpin Jack doubles as a strap button.

A closeup of the Blade peghead