FRETS.COM New Instrument Review
September 11, 1999

Featured at Gryphon
Red Diamond "F"

© Frank Ford, 1999; Photos by FF

Don MacRostie is one of our favorite luthiers; he specializes in recreating the Gibson mandolins of old. He's particularly interested in the 1920s "Lloyd Loar era" F-5. Working within that design he has brought it "forward" to become a lighter, more responsive instrument than even the classic originals.

He works alone and builds only about a dozen instruments a year, working in his spare time. (Don is the head tool designer for Stewart MacDonald, by day.)

He tells me he stress tests each top and back as he carves it to get precisely the same "deflection under load," for consistent tonal results. Each mandolin is made from eastern hard maple, with an Adirondack spruce top.

Please click the small photos

That's a Gary Price cast brass tailpiece, gold plated to match the tuners.

Traditional tortoise celluloid bound fingerrest.

As you look at the close-up photos, notice the attention to detail on all the bindings. mitered purfling and stained sunburst finish.

One of the most famous Stradivari violins was finished with a striking red-brown varnish, and is known as the "Red Diamond." That's where Don got the idea for the name for his mandolins.

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