Weber, Weber, and Weber (A Tale of Three Mandolins)
No, this is not a post on a law firm. (Most Docs are scared of lawyers, but I have several good friends in that profession.) This Weber is a luthier, and in particular is Bruce Weber, a mandolin specialist. He also builds mandolas, arch top guitars, and a variety of related instruments. I have three of his mandolins from three different eras. After a quarter century as a semiprofessional performer I know mandolins almost as well as know anti-hypertensives.
I own one of his 2008 Weber Yellowstone “F” style mandolins. It is as fine an example of the instrument I have ever played, and I have had the good fortune to try quite a few over the years. Mine is the honey colored one with tortoise binding. (It is imitation tortoise for the environmentalists out there.) I have looked it over a number of times and there is not a single flaw in the craftsmanship.
Of course how it sounds and plays is far more important than how it looks. It has a crisp, clear tone, and notes with ease. The old joke about mandolin as Italian for “out of tune” does not apply here. The intonation is perfect all the way up the neck, and the slight radius to the neck makes it easier to play for old Docs with arthritic hands, though radius is a personal preference thing- he also makes plenty of them with a flat fret board.
As far as professional quality mandolins go, the Yellowstone is moderate in price. I find it equal to or better than instruments that cost tens of thousands of dollars more. This mandolin was closure for me- cure of a disease known as mandolin acquisition syndrome- the endless search for the holy grail. I have given up even my old daily habit of perusal of the classified ads. The hunt is over.
I have another Bruce Weber instrument from the 1990s, and I have even more emotional attachment to it, because my wife gave it to me. It does not say Weber on the headstock, but it was also built by Bruce Weber. It is from a famous company, but for legal reasons I do not wish to disclose the name. I have several lawyer friends, but I have no interest to test their skills in any legal battles. Back in those days even though Mr. Weber was building for another company, the mandolins were also excellent. My daughter is learning to play and has this one right now.
Then from the 1980s, I have yet another one from yet another company, but again built by the same Mr. Bruce Weber. Again I cannot name the company. This mandolin is an “A” style, and was retrofitted with a McIntyre pick-up. At this time, it is out on loan to Darrell for a series of gospel performances. I believe Mr. Weber uses McIntyre as his standard pick-up when he installs one at the factory.
Mr. Weber has built fine mandolins for several decades, but as he says, now that his name is on them they are better than ever. It is unsolicited, and I am a doctor, not a touring mandolinist, but IMHO (bluegrass for in my humble opinion) there are none better. As far as my mandolin, I don’t leave home without it.
If some of you mandolin aficionados out there want to guess the name of the corporations I will tell you if you are correct, but I won’t print the full names of the companies he built for before he started Weber Mandolins. I have been successful to avoid legal trouble for all these years as a Doc, and I sure ain’t gonna get in trouble over my little mandolin. But it is sure enough a good’un- the best in my book. Y’all go check out Mr. Weber’s web site- Weber Fine Acoustic Instruments. I think I’ll go practice, his mandolins sure are fun to play.