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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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:
graduated/tuned top and back plates
graphite laminate parallel tone bars
bent solid wood sides \
bridge and fret board
wild game bone
- 15th fret
- Body protector
are available for left-handed players in each line.
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.
Woods- for sides back and neck
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.
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.
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.
The traditional tone wood for string instruments top sound plates.
We have a large supply of Sitka Spruce here in Alaska.
Proven to be an exceptional tone wood and is known to be highly
decay resistant, potentially extending an instruments longevity.
- 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
(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
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.
- 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.
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
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%