All instruments


Note that all instruments come with a case, but the actual case supplied will depend on availability.  Presto cases has closed down, so a high quality shaped flight case for a reasonable price is impossible to source.  Quality costs money, and with custom cases made in the USA, a lot of money.  Cases have always been a problem, most of the Chinese made plywood cases are way too big and the quality is poor.  There may be some price adjustments from time to time to take into account the cost of the case.

Update 1 - The cost of the custom made Cedar Creek mandola case has escalated into the ridiculous, but there is really no alternative for mandola cases, so the price of the mandola (and the deposit) has had to be increased to help cover the cost.  Beautiful cases, but the cost is now more than 3 times what a Presto case was costing.  However, I can supply a mandola with no case if you want to save on the case.  Contact me for a quote.  I have been searching for an alternative, but no luck.  Mandola cases are not made as a standard off the shelf commercial item.

Update 2 - I have decided to use TKL cases for all the archtop mandolins until further notice.  These are made in Canada, superior quality than the Chinese cases, and the dimensions are a reasonably good fit for my mandolins and don't cost an arm and a leg.  They are made by the same company that makes Cedar Creek cases.
Made from native or imported solid wood
You choose what woods you want on custom made instruments, but I can advise you on what i think best suits requirements.
Wooden bindings.
Radiused fingerboards.
Bone nut.
Paua Abalone shell, or opal fingerboard inlays.  Paua Abalone or wooden (European Maple) headstock logo inlay.
Varnish finish.  I believe varnish gives a slightly looser and warmer sound that I prefer over nitro lacquer finishes.
Hard shell case is included at no additional cost.

All instruments are tuned using Chladni plate tuning techniques to get the best and most consistent sound.  These techniques were developed by Peter Coombe for mandolins and the guitar tuning techniques were developed by Alan Carruth.  Thank you Alan.

Mandolins and Mandola

Carbon fiber neck reinforcement.
Dovetail neck joint.
Fingerboards radiused to 12".
Crosspiece at the 12th fret for the oval hole mandolins, at the 15th fret for the A5 mandolin.
Fingerboards are Ebony (usually quarter sawn Macassar Ebony) except for the Goldfinch models which may have an Australian native hardwood fingerboard.
Modified Ebony Brekke bridge (the saddle is modified), except for the two point Classical model which has a one piece Ebony bridge.
Engraved gold James tailpiece.  The classical models have a custom made tailpiece and the Pancake mandolins have a nickel cloud tailpiece
High quality Schaller GrandTune tuners with Ebony knobs for all new archtop mandolins.  Rubner tuners for the flattop mandolins.
Nut width 30mm, except for the Pancake mandolin which is 29mm, and the mandola which is 32mm.  I can do 28mm nut width on any custom mandolin if required.
Wooden pick guards, except for the flattop mandolins which have a clear Mylar pick guard.
Pickups are not included.  Pickups can be installed as extra, but some mandolins cannot have a pickup internally installed once the box is closed (e.g. Classical).  I install McIntyre feather pickups, but for best sound recommend Schertler.  Note that McIntyre feather pickups require a preamp.  Schertler are less convenient and a lot more expensive, but in my opinion have the best sound on the market.  Note that the Schertler can be used on mandolins that cannot have the McIntyre pickup installed.

Octave mandolin

Flat top X braced with carbon fiber reinforcement on the X brace.
Top and back with 15" radius.
Body depth (internal) 65mm, 57mm for the 2 point OM.
21 inch scale length.
34mm wide nut.
Two way truss rod in the neck.
Dovetail neck joint.
Custom made Ebony Brekke bridge.
Schertler GrandTune tuners.
Nickel plated Allen tailpiece.
Clear Mylar pick guard.
Pickup is not included, but can be installed as an extra.


Two way truss rod in the neck.
44mm nut width for the guitars, 32mm nut width for the tenor guitars.
Bolt on neck joint (greatly simplifies neck resets).
Mahogany neck, either African or Honduras mahogany.  Queensland Maple is another option.  Australain Red Cedar for the classical guitar.
Quarter sawn Macassar Ebony fingerboards radiused to 16".
Top radiused to 25", back radiused to 15".
Steel string guitars the top is X braced, but bracing is symmetrical similar (but different) to Larrivee.  The classical guitar is traditionally fan braced similar to the Houser guitars
Wooden rosette.
A frame brace in the upper bout to stop movement of the neck block (reduces need for neck resets).
Tuning of the top is adjusted with side weights if necessary as per Trevor Gore and Gerard Gilet.
Tasmanian Blackwood bridge (lighter than Ebony or Rosewood bridges), Ebony bridge pins, and bone saddle.  Classical guitar has a rosewood bridge.
Superb quality (Swiss made, very smooth and accurate) Schertler tuners with Ebony knobs for the OM guitars, Schaller GrandTune tuners for the small guitar, and gold Gotoh tuners on the Tenor guitars.
McIntyre Feather pickup is installed as standard on all guitars (except the classical guitar).  Note that this pickup does require a preamp.  I do not install active electronics in my guitars.  Over the long life of a guitar, any active electronics are very likely to fail and cannot be repaired because of changing technology.  The McIntyre feather can be easily removed if it ever needs to be replaced (unlikely because it is a passive device).

I have pretty much settled on Adirondack Spruce (i.e. Red Spruce) for the top wood of my guitars, although I can use other species of Spruce, Redwood or King Billy Pine on request.  Most customers like the bigger headroom of Adirondack, and I am getting excellent results with it.  After all, it is the same topwood that Martin used in their pre war guitars that are so highly regarded.

My main influences have been Martin (of course), Gibson, Jean Larrivee, Alan Carruth, Jim Williams, Trevor Gore, Gerard Gilet, and others.  I also do repairs which has given me a good idea on what can go wrong over the life of a guitar and how to avoid most of the problems.

I make guitars that will sound great for many years into the future, not guitars that sound great when brand new but then  later develop structural issues or the bass starts to sound flabby.  That creates a marketing problem in that my guitars do tend to feel and sound a bit "stiff" when new, and that can put uninformed customers off.  Adirondack Spruce is the stiffest of all the Spruce species so brand new instruments do tend to feel stiffer than with other Spruce species. However, don't believe the rubbish you can read on the Internet about how Adirondack Spruce takes 20 or 50 years to "open up".  If it takes that long then the guitar is too heavily built.  My guitars will "open up" in as little as 6-12 months of solid playing and will improve for around 5 years afterwards and continue to give many years of enjoyment.