The mandolin reviews database is here to help educate people before they purchase an instrument. Of course, this is not meant to be a substitute for playing the instrument yourself!
89 reviews in the archive.
Where Purchased: directly from builder
This mandolin was built by luthier Eddie Blevins of Blountville Tennessee per my specs and was his 10th build. I'm using no effects or amplification as it's an all acoustic F5 mandolin. The mandolin is very very new and has hardly been played so still sounds a bit "green" and sounds "tight" like most mandolins do when new. However, having said that, I can hear it developing some nice woody sounding mids ( but not overly woody sounding ) and also a good chop. It's too early to tell ultimately how the mandolin will develop seeing that it needs to be played and needs time to open up more. It has good volume already, although could improve, which I suspect will over time. It also has a nice tremolo and responds well to vigorous as well as soft picking.
Sound Rating: 8
Eddie had the mandolin set up well, however he had the action too high on it for my current stage of playing. I lowered the action and straightened the bridge slightly and lowered the action on the "E" string side while keping it slightly higher on the bass string side to keep a nice "thunk" on the chop. Set-up was easy to do and the mandolin notes and intonates well up and down the neck.
Setup Rating: 8
Eddie normally does alot of fancy inlay work and finishes with his builds, however with mine I went with a simple dark "choco-burst" kinda rustic F9 mandolin look. It has only a simple "Blevins" inlay in the peghead and simple fret dot markers. The mandolin has a nice bookmatched, even grained Adirondack Red Spruce top and VERY highly flamed Red Maple back, sides and neck. The fingerboard is Gabon Ebony and so is the peghead veneer and the mandolin also has dark tortoise binding, so very high quality materials were used in this build. Considering that this was only Eddies 10th mandolin that he has built in the short time he has been building, the appointments on his mandolins are very good. There were only a few very minor finish flaws including a few rough spots here and there, but over all very very good work for a new builder as F5 mandolins are difficult to build. I want to note that Eddie uses the Siminoff method of "Tap" tuning the entire instrument when he builds one. This includes tuning the top, back, parallel tone bars and even the F-holes so one will be virtually guaranteed a good sounding mandolin with one of Eddies builds. The scroll and "volute" are also nicely carved and symmetrical, as is the carving and graduation throughout the top, back and the peghead as well. There are a few rough spots along the fingerboard where the binding is but overall acceptable. I wanted a mandolin that looked older and kind of rustic so I chose the True-Oil finish which gives the mandolin a bit of a satin look and it came out very nice.
Appearance Rating: 8
It has a cumberland Acoustics bridge and Schaller tuners. The tailpiece is a "Blevins" engraved James tailpiece and the medium nickel frets are very nice and even.....the hardware is excellent quality
Reliability Rating: 9
Eddies customer service is outstanding, a real Virginia gentlemen. We emailed back and forth daily for months and he always responded in minutes to any of my concerns or questions. I also called him a few times on the phone to discuss the mandolin and he always promptly responded. I have a limited lifetime warranty as the original owner and I know I can call or email Eddie anytime with any concerns.
Customer Service: 10
The materials used in this build were top notch AA and AAA grade Adirondack Red Spruce and highly flamed Red Maple as Eddie uses an excellent source for his tonewood supplier. At this point I can't think of anything that I'd like to upgrade at all on this mandolin as it was built exactly the way I wanted it.
Components Rating: 10
Eddie's price points are very reasonable for a custom mandolin, but will be raising his prices soon due to demand and material costs. I believe he is currently building a backlog of orders as his popularity and name and reputation is getting out into the mandolin world more and more, so purchase one now while they are all under $2000. I am convinced we will be hearing more about Eddie and his builds in the future as long as he continues building.
Overall Rating: 9
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