Phil Davidson Instruments

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Phil Davidson Instruments

Postby Barry » Tue May 03, 2005 11:52 am

Review Davidson Instruments
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Postby Fliss » Sun Mar 04, 2007 8:34 pm

I've just bought a Phil Davidson flat top mandolin, so I thought I'd contribute a review!

I visited Phil's workshop near Bristol a fortnight ago, and although I wasn't going to buy a mandolin just yet, and wasn't looking for a flat top at all, this mandolin just "spoke" to me and I had to have it.

If you look on Phil's website (http://www.davidsoninstruments.com/) you can see his current range of mandolins, including the flat top, and in the gallery section there's a photo of one with an oval hole, like mine.

My first impresssion of this mandolin was that it looked rather plain in appearance next to some of this others. The top and back are not completely flat, but slightly arched. It's got a sitka spruce top and maple back and sides - not the curly maple of the one on his website, but what Phil calls "interesting maple"! The bridge, headstock veneer, and bindings are rosewood. It was next to the art deco Celtic archtop (which is pictured on his website) which is absolutely stunning, even more so in reality than it looks in the photos, so the flat top looked particularly plain next to that.

The art deco Celtic was beautiful to play, and had sustain that went on forever. I picked it up and played it and couldn't help but smile. But then I came to the flat top, and discovered it had the same light, responsive feel, and the same huge sustain, but the tone had more complexity, more fullness. I kept on playing it and just liked it more and more. It rewards you with a sweet tone when you play it gently, and tons of volume when you ask for it. It's quite a bright tone, but not harsh or thin in any way. For want of a better way to describe it, it seems to me to have "presence".

Although I'd been looking for a carved top mandolin, I have come to the conclusion that I just like the complexity of the flat top tone better.

I asked Phil to change the tailpiece, as I wanted one of the hand made ones (shown on the art deco Celtic) rather than the Gibson-style one it comes with, so he did that for an additional cost, and added a pick up as well.

I have to say, I love everything about it, and once it's not sitting next to the art deco Celtic, it doesn't look plain, just simple and elegant :grin: The finish is superb, it feels very smooth in my hands. It sounds great already, and it can only get better over the years of being played.

A mandolin-playing friend tried it, and liked it a lot, although he did comment that it would be a good mandolin for either Jazz or Choro music. Although it's also great for Celtic, and I rather think it will be good for the traditional / classical Italian music we play in the ensemble, where everyone plays bowlbacks. It just feels like such a versatile mandolin, as if it would do pretty much anything you ask it to.

I would also say that Phil is a great person to deal with, very patient when I was trying out mandolins, and very helpful in responding to all my questions.

Fliss
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Postby Dave Hanson » Mon Mar 05, 2007 8:18 am

That sounds like one good mandolin Fliss, personally I have always prefered plain looking instruments, being fancy looking doesn't make it sound or play any better.

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Postby Fliss » Mon Mar 05, 2007 8:48 pm

Thanks Dave! Yes, I must admit I'm not one for a lot of "bling" on my instruments either, but this one's very simple even by my standards!

I should mention, having talked about different music types, that my preference is for Celtic music, and that's what I'll mainly be playing on this mando.

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Postby Barry » Wed Mar 07, 2007 11:00 pm

Sometimes a bit of style can go a long way! :lol:
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Postby Dave Hanson » Thu Mar 08, 2007 2:33 pm

Style but not flash eh !

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Postby Barry » Thu Mar 08, 2007 4:37 pm

Agreed.
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