Just thought that I would touch base with you. I have just played a Gibson A model from 1923. Same shape as your one. #129. All I ever hear is just how great the Gibsons are: Fantastic. The ultimate. Best sounding mandolins ever made, etc, etc. I have to say that your one would leave it for dead both in sound and finish. There is a lot of codswallop written and spoken about the old Gibsons. They are very good without a doubt but they have been surpassed by many outstanding instrument makers throughout the world. I would certainly place you in that category.
Many thanks for such a wonderful mandolin.
Best regards, Dale
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My new mandola is wonderful - every bit as gorgeous in person as it appears in your photos, solidly built yet graceful, and virtually impossible to walk past without strumming a tune or two. Or ten.
Thank you for your dedication to customer service; I could not have negotiated the paperwork labyrinth without you. I am very grateful for your thoroughness and persistence in the face of all that bureaucracy; without it, I would not have come out the other side with such a stunning instrument.
You have provided me with a source of pride and sweet music that I will treasure and play for the rest of my life. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
Subject: Re: Mandolin
Package arrived all intact, thanks to your secure packing and the bullet-proof Presto case. What an absolutely stunning instrument! I've played it in every spare moment I've had and am so impressed with the beautiful tone, incredible sustain and powerful volume. It rings like a bell with an almost angelic sound. I have a collection of over 10 other quality mandolins that I've purchased over the years from all around the world - this one makes them sound like toys. Thank you so much.
From: Carl Dickey
About a week ago, I received Peter Coombe's latest effort. It's an A5 with a Swiss Pine top. Back, sides, neck and fingerest are highly figured Tasmanian Blackwood. Rock Maple is used for the body binding. Fingerboard binding, tuner knobs and peghead overlay are in Ebony. A Brekke bridge, and a Price tailpiece were included as was a Presto case.
How we came to select this particular combination of timbers is a fairly long story, but suffice to say that we put a fair amount of thought into it. The selection of the Brekke bridge was also a calculated decision. The process we went through to specify my mandolin was interesting, educational and left me with the feeling that I contributed to the creation of a unique instrument.
The instrument is an extraordinary piece of work in my opinion. The Tasmanian Blackwood back is beautifully matched with great figure. Peter finishes his mandolins with French polish which in my opinion brings out the best in the timbers. The Ebony fingerboard, fingerboard binding, peghead overlay, and tuner knobs are in striking contrast to the gold hardware and red/gold coloration of the Blackwood. Needless to say, it looks damned nice and I'll put some photos up of it in the near future. It's the best sounding, best playing mandolin that I've ever experienced. The intonation is just superb. Peter says that this is the loudest mandolin that he has ever built. It is certainly theloudest mandolin I've played. All strings are very balanced. The G string is rich. The E string sings brightly. D & A strings sound just as good. This evening, the instrument really opened up. It sounds incredible.
Peter Coombe builds great mandolins. I feel that his prices are very reasonable. Last I heard, his waiting list was surprisinglyshort. I highly recommend him to anyone looking for a very high quality, custom built mandolin.
Thank you Peter!
Disclaimer - any individuals suffering from MAS read the rest of this mail at their own risk!
The day arrived. It started like any other - I got up, had coffee and breakfast and went to work. Then it all changed.
I got paged from the office at 10:45 - there was a parcel waiting for me, "and its damn big". With great trepidation, I went to the office, and there was a big box there, with the wonderful words "Fragile: musical instrument" written by hand on the side. This was it!
I carried the box back to my office, and carefully pulled off the case. Inside, packed in foam, foam balls and plastic was a white Presto case. Inside a mandolin. A Coombe mandolin. Number 83.
This mandolin is AWESOME! Its an A style, oval hole mandolin. Top is Engelmann, the back and sides gorgeous flamed rock maple. Ebony fingerboard and trims. A spectacular Birdseye maple pickguard. Gold hardware, Brekke bridge, Abalone inlays. The construction is fantastic, and it looks like it shouldn't be played! I will take more photos soon, but for now there is a photo here:
Now I said it looks like it shouldn't be played. But it should. And it will. And it has! And the sound? Like it looks - FANTASTIC!
It is very clear, and has great sustain - as my wife puts it "Its heaps louder and sounds nicer than your old mandolin". It is very strong in the base, and I can get the G strings to distort slightly if I hit them *really* hard. The treble doesn't have the same strength, but rings like a bell. The tone is not as rich as some mandolins I have heard, but it is up there - and I expect this to develop with time. This is a keeper, I love it, its not going anywhere!
I replaced my Washburn mandolin with this - its definitely a big step up. I got it to play, and to have as a reference mandolin for the ones I am/going to build. This sets the bar high! Anyway, too much typing - I have playing to do! I will try for some sound files in the next week or so.
To Peter - a big thanks! This is the mandolin I wanted! To anyone considering a mandolin from Peter - do it! You won't be disappointed!
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|From: "Marcus C. Tate"
Subject: Peter Coombe mandos - glowing review! (longish)
Date: Thu Jan 9 10:33:25 1997
Before I get stuck in, let me state that the stuff below is unusolicited, and my only relationship to Peter is as a satisfied customer.
OK, my mando is made from Australian tonewoods (King Billy Pine top and Queensland Blackwood back, sides, and neck), and so is not totally comparable with spruce-maple combos. However, the quality of workmanship is extremely high, and the mando looks very classy. it's all wood (including the pickguard, bindings, and ebony tuning pegs) with a French polish finish.
You wouldn't believe the degree of flaming on the back, sides, and neck - lovely.
Most importantly to me, it has the most beautifully mellow tone than I've ever heard in an A mando. It is much louder than my Gibson F5 (probably because of the X-bracing), and has fabulous projection. The action is very low, and the neck comfortable (it's a wider neck similar to those on early Gibsons). It easily beats 20's gendre Gibson A-1's in price, construction, and sound. Also, the tuning appears to be very stable, even given the humidity fluctuations here in Sydney, Aus.
Peter recently also showed me some other mandos that he's made. Although I like mine best, he has used maple-spruce combinations, and has experimented with f-holes on A-style mandos. All are loud, fine instruments. The f-hole beast I heard had less projection and a brighter tone relative to the oval hole equivalents, and sounded more similar to F-style models (despite identical construction in all other respects; who says that the scroll contributes considerably to F-types? In my opinion, these would be great bluegrass/OT instruments.
In short, this is the best mando that I have ever heard or played (and I've played more than a few in both N. America and Oz). In a way, the fact that I only payed $1300 Australian dollars for it makes me feel that I short-changed Peter, especially because the price also included $300 worth of custom work and a flight case!
He has a website with a picture of my mandolin (I think), and I would be happy to provide more details via email to anybody interested. Hopefully by doing this I am helping to promote the great work of small mando makers, particularly here in Australia where the quality is high but the choices are few!
Anyway, this has gone on too long, but suffice to say that anybody looking for a professional-quality celtic, classical, or bluegrass mando at an introductory price, should definitely talk to Peter.