Hey Guys! Olin Davis here. I haven't updated the site in a while so here it is. It has now been 20 years since I started building and after more than 75 mandolins I think I have finally begun to get a handle on what to do to get consistent tone out of a piece of wood. I am not saying that I know it all and if anyone tells you that they do then run away - not even Stradavarius knew everything. With that being said, every mandolin has its own voice. I hear people talk about the Loar sound. Well, every Loar signed mandolin sounds different than every other. They all have their own voice as do my mandolins and all other high grade handbuilt mandolins. What I strive for is to have as few imperfections as possible, a pleasing look to the eye, a pleasing sound to the ear, and a friendly feel for the person holding it. What I turn out is a close approximation to the mandolins that Lloyd Loar was signing in the early 20's.
A mandolin needs to be able to hold it's own in a group. Volume is important so I try to build so that the mandolin can sing as loudly as possible. Tone is something that is difficult to describe using words so I am not going to try, just know that I try to build a mandolin with "great" tone. I could get into a discussion of the relationship of the note of the plates influencing the tonal aspects of the instrument but that should be reserved for another time and place. To put it simply what I have learned over the years is an understanding of the tuning of the top and back. That is the single most important aspect contributing to the tone of a good mandolin. Fit and finish, attention to detail, and an overall desire to provide you with the absolute best mandolin I can build, is what I strive for. I like to think that I am building heirlooms and as far as I know the vast majority of my mandolins have stayed with their original owners - hopefully to be passed down to future players.
I have recently moved my shop back home to North Carolina which is about a mile from Boones Cave in Churchland. While my shop is small it is perfect for me, and I have plenty of room to expand if I want to in the future. It is great to get back to the state where so many bluegrass legends were born and where so many great players live today.
I hope you enjoy the rest of the site. Make sure to check out the build. That series of pictures shows the way I do things. As much done by hand as possible. I will be posting more pictures so watch for them. Most important Play often and Enjoy the music.
Feel free to call, text anytime, or email me if you have any questions. I'll try to respond in a timely manner but be aware that I much prefer the shop to this email box. If you want to get me quickly, text is the best. (803) 730-1475 Thanks and I look forward to hearing from you.
I was born and raised in the great state of North Carolina. I have been playing music since 1966 when I started playing clarinet in the school band. In 1978 I picked up a guitar for the first time and then the mandolin in 1985.The mandolin just seemed to fit my hand so that was my primary instrument. I passed up several opportunities to buy a Loar mando back when you could still afford them. By the time I started building, the Loar had appreciated way out of my price range. I decided to build an instrument that was as close as possible to those old pre-war Loars. After researching for several years, I finally built my first mandolin in 1994. Although my primary focus is the mandolin, I have built several guitars, a mandocello, and a dobro. I am a Christian and give God all the Glory for my talents.
My Newest "Snake" #74