New Instrument Review
November 27, 1999
Petersen Octave Mandolin
© Frank Ford, 1999; Photos by FF
Here's an individual luthier who's on an interesting track. He specializes in Irish bouzoukis, or octave mandolins. Claiming he gets bored making the same thing each time, Bill Petersen has found a way around the problem of having standard models. Instead of having a standard materials list and a regular set of decorations, he has "levels" of decoration. The octave mandolin in these pictures is made of fancy curly koa, with elegant matching "spalted" veneers on the peghead and around the soundhole. A few tasteful inlays bring this one up to "Level 3" by Bill's reckoning.
By assigning levels of decoration, he leaves everything wide open, and he often uses different exotic woods, and totally different soundhole rings or rosettes, bindings and inlays. Some instruments require intermediate numbers, such as 1-1/2, or 2-1/2. Best of all, we get a little surprise each time we see one.
Oh, yes, these are fine performers, too!
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