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Handmade With Care

Thank you for your interest in Coleson fine stringed 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 archtop 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.

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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.

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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.

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.


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.

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As it's known, we are 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

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