Thank you for your interest in Coleson fine stringed instruments. Hopefully in this webpage will be informative enough to answer any questions and help guide you through the options available on my individually made instruments. As a self-taught luthier I've had a chance to do a considerable amount of experimenting with stringed instrument design. Building my first two mandolins and banjo in 1983, I believe I've made some positive changes in arch top instrument construction by adopting the use of carbon graphite in 1992. It is my desire to use old school building technique with new school materials to create instruments that truly stand on their own merit as works of art, with exceptional tone and playability.

I also believe many an investor would like to personalize their instruments with the options I've made available. With a desire to rekindle the fine hand carvings of old. I have settled on two distinct carving patterns on the neck heel and upper back. The shell and the shield. Each has an elaborate vine and leaf pattern boldly cut into the wood. These are each hand drawn, hand cut, no two are alike. I can safely carve the upper back of my mandolins because of my one piece neck blocks that include the first body point. This provides a stable environment for my carvings. It will not sacrifice any structural strength within the instrument.

As it's known, we are only caretakers of any fine string instrument. Properly cared for they will be handed down for many generations. It's an honor to have my name on these instruments.
Dave Coleson


Table of Contents

The Improvements
Two Lines
The Options
Personal Guarantee
Ordering Info


I. The Improvements

Early in my career I learned the importance of the neck and body joint. This area of the string instrument is under extreme stress. Many instruments 10 years and older have tiny cracks in the top, right next to the neck and fingerboard extension. This is where most neck blocks end, creating a potential weak spot. Therefore; all of the mandolins I build have a one-piece neck block that includes the first body point, completely stabilizing that critical area.

Violin builders discovered they could increase instrument's power (more volume and cut ability), by spring loading a tone or bass bar. It is simply a matter of making each end of the bar slightly bent away from the top before gluing. So that upon gluing the bar to the top it will be spring loaded. This effect makes the top considerably more sensitive to string vibrations, increasing the instruments ability to project and carry sound waves.

There's a problem with the use of wood alone as it will lose the spring effect in 5 to 7 years. This is not a problem for violins because they are made to be taken apart. So replacing the old bass bar with a new one is a common task.

I believe I have beaten the problem of losing the spring-loaded effect by using a strip of carbon graphite laminate in the Spruce tone bar. The graphite will never lose the spring effect and will eliminate any top creeping that's so prevalent on many instruments 30 years or older.

I also use a solid graphite neck reinforcement bar to stabilize and prevent neck movement. It's known that adjustable neck are prone to having problems like rusting and dead spots (fretted notes that won't ring clear) and will need adjustment when humidity, temperature, or string gauge change. Solid graphite reinforcement will never rust or need to be adjusted.

II. Two Lines

The Coleson Premium Line:
This deluxe style comes with tri-laminate Ivoroid binding on the top and back, imitation mother of pearl binding on the fret board and peg head, fancy vine and leaf inlay on the fret board and peg head, and gold plated hardware.

The Coleson Standard Line:
Beautiful in its simplicity it comes with white binding on the top only. Nickel plated hardware, standard dot fret board inlay and traditional flowerpot peg head inlay.

Both lines come complete with:


  • Hand graduated/tuned top and back plates
  • Spring-loaded graphite laminate parallel tone bars
  • Hand bent solid wood sides \
  • Ebony bridge and fret board
  • Alaskan wild game bone


  • Nut
  • 15th fret cross piece
  • Body protector points


Instruments are available for left-handed players in each line.


III. Options

In general, wood density levels range from medium to medium hard throughout all three species of wood I use. What truly indicates tone is properly carved and graduated sound plates. Birch, Maple, and Koa can all be brought into equal tonal qualities.

Tone Woods- for sides back and neck
  • Alaskan Birch- My favorite wood to work with. Although it's a less figured wood (curly or tiger striped) than Maple or Koa, it is stable, plentiful and produces great instruments.
  • Maple- The traditional wood for string instrument construction since at least the 1700s. It's highly figured and seems to be in good supply at the present time.
  • Koa- From Hawaii, it is a beautiful highly figured tone wood. Curly grain has been seen from trunk to branch in trees less than 20 years old. State and private reforestation projects will ensure a plentiful supply for future builders worldwide.
Top Plate Material
  • Spruce- The traditional tone wood for string instruments top sound plates. We have a large supply of Sitka Spruce here in Alaska.
  • Redwood- Proven to be an exceptional tone wood and is known to be highly decay resistant, potentially extending an instruments longevity.
Fret Board Surface
  • Flat fret boards are the standard for mandolin construction
  • Some players like a slight 16 inch radius to the fret board surface
  • The choice is individual preference
Fret Wire
  • Fret Wire (fine-medium) - Fine fret wire is the standard mandolin wire. Correct intonation is kept easily with it. Heavy-handed players who wear out frets fast should consider medium fret wire as you will probably be getting them leveled and re-crowned more often.
  • Medium fret wire allows for more fret resurface jobs to be performed before a complete re-fretting job is needed. Tone seems to remain the same with either fine or medium fret wire.
Fret Board Extension
  • The standard fret board extension is the 29th fret Florentine. However, some players don't like the extended fret board preferring a scalloped fret board extension to ease playability.


IV. Personal Guarantee

Limited to the original owner is a guarantee to repair or replace (with another of the same mode) if instruments materials or craftsmanship are found to be faulty. This does not cover natural wear from playing or abnormal abuse (exposure to excessive temperatures, moisture or dropping instrument, etc.)

The warranty covers all cost of labor and materials to restore instrument. All shipping charges are to be paid by client.

V. Ordering Information

1) Complete order form
2) Forward form and 30% of the total price to me or your dealer
3) You will receive a copy of your order form and expected date of completion
4) Balance of total amount due to be paid prior to delivery
5) Client to pay all shipping charges
6) Forfeiture of deposit will result if remaining balance not paid within 90 days of instruments stated date of completion
7) If not satisfied return to dealer within 14 days for full refund
8) Instrument returned scratched or damaged will receive reduced refund of at least 20%


Dave Coleson
610 Attla Way #16 Kenai, Alaska 99611
Phone: 907-252-2599 or 907-776-5226

Last Modified on 03/31/2015
Website created by WrongWayRay (Raymond Choat)

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