Instruments & Gear: Fine Lutherie

Clark GOM175 Octave Mandolin

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John Mailander demonstrates his archtop guitar–inspired octave mandolin.

by Teja Gerken
April 20, 2017

Over the past decade or so, Boise, Idaho, luthier Austin Clark has established himself as a well-respected builder of mandolin-family instruments. Clark’s A- and F-style mandolins are built in the Gibson tradition (check out our demo of a 2016 Clark F5), but his three octave mandolin models showcase his original designs. Fiddler and mandolinist John Mailander recently stopped by the Peghead Nation studio to demonstrate his archtop guitar–shaped Clark GOM175 octave mandolin.

John’s instrument, which he purchased at the Grass Valley Father’s Day Bluegrass Festival in California a few years ago, has an Adirondack spruce top, red maple back and sides, 20.25-inch scale, compound radius fretboard, and gold Evo fretwire. The instrument also has triple-bound top, back, and sides, bound f-holes, and a varnish finish. “The design was first suggested by Joe Craven when I built one for him, and it has been very popular,” Clark says.

John has used the instrument on various recording projects, including his solo album, Walking Distance, and EP of duets with Molly Tuttle, John Mailander and Molly Tuttle. He also plays it on tour with Darol Anger’s Republic of Strings.

In this video, John talks about the instrument and plays the traditional fiddle tune “St. Anne’s Reel” as well as his original piece “Forecast.”

Category: Instruments & Gear

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