Special Phoenix Innovations
- Engineered light-string models with specially configured tone bars that produce full volume and tone with light and extra-light strings.
- Designed a jazz model that utilizes both a piezo and a magnetic pickup for creative playing styles.
- Introduced the graphite-epoxy truss bar in mandolin production.
- Pioneered the use of graphite-epoxy laminations in mandolin tone bars.
- Introduced special models that have no plastic bindings.
- Adopted special epoxies for strength and vibration transmission.
- Reformulated top and back graduations for full plate movements.
- Adopted willow, as Stradivari did, for internal blocks and linings.
- Introduced ancient forest maple for bridge bases.
- Created custom tuner parts.
- Established low instrument weight as a major factor in sound projection; the heaviest Phoenix mandolin weighs only 30 ounces!
- Pioneered the waterborne varnish finish for mandolins.
Each mandolin features:
- Fine quarter-sawn, vacuum-dried, red spruce used on most models for superior tonal range and traditional “Loar” tone. European spruce is used on the Jazz and some custom models for its particular mellow tone.
- Full perimeter graduation for maximum top response.
- CNC carved to precise curvatures, then hand graduated to each model’s specifications.
- Tone-bars; graphite-laminated, voiced for each model, with asymmetrical placement. The Neoclassical and Jazz have a radical new tone bar design for full tone and projection with light strings.
- Amati-style “f” holes, area-matched to Lloyd Loar Era specifications.
- Highly figured maple, specially graduated by a new Phoenix formula. Red maple used in most models with hard sugar maple for Bluegrass models, and European sycamore maple and quilted maple used in certain custom models.
- Neck is one-piece, profiled similar to Loar era mandolins. Sycamore maple necks have a second piece grafted on the heel and the end of the headstock.
- Epoxy-graphite bar replacing metal truss rod for better sound and stability.
- Finest ebony used on all models with Macassar used on the Jazz, all are radiused to 7 1/4″ for ease of playing, 13 7/8″ standard scale.
- Front inlays: Select and Bluegrass – snail or abalone dots; Neoclassical – none; Jazz – 2mm snail under the bass strings; Deluxe – hand-cut abalone vine; Ultra – hand-cut abalone flames.
- Binding: Bluegrass – ivoroid; Ultra – black/white; Select, Neoclassical, and Deluxe – ebony with fret slots cut short of the edge of the fingerboard; Jazz – Macassar ebony with fret slots cut short.
- Side position dots: Neoclassical, Jazz, Deluxe, and Ultra – snail; Select and Bluegrass – abalone.
- Scalloped for pick relief above 24th fret.
- The Jazz model has a 22 fret fingerboard to enhance pickup placement and higher and wider frets laying, 13 7/8″ standard scale.
- All fret wire is now EVO “gold”, the new harder, longer-lasting fret wire.
- Overlay is finest ebony on most models, striped Macassar on the Jazz.
- Select and Jazz have Snakehead headstock
- Precision CNC-cut inlays with 3-piece of figured abalone except on the Ultra where a hand-cut full abalone phoenix with flames is done.
- Binding: Bluegrass – ivoroid; Master Model – triple binding on side (ivoroid/black/white).
- Width: 30mm (just under 1 3/16″)
- Material: Select – bone; Bluegrass and Ultra – mother of pearl; Neoclassical, Deluxe, and Jazz – dyed bone or fossil ivory.
- Highly-figured quarter-sawn maple sides
- Blocks and lining strips made from willow, as Stradivari preferred.
- Internal air volume matched to the legendary Lloyd Loar mandolins.
- Ultra model has black bindings with abalone purfling.
- Bluegrass model has ivoroid bindings; the Bluegrass Master Model has triple bindings (ivoroid/black/white) on the sides.
- Select, Neoclassical, Deluxe, and Jazz models are constructed violin style with no plastic bindings and chamfered edges.
- Traditional Lloyd Loar specifications.
- Nickel-plated metal parts on the Select and Bluegrass; black plated on other models.
- The bridge base is made from resonant ancient-forest maple recovered from Moosehead Lake in Maine.
- The saddle is ebony (Macassar on Jazz), radiused and carefully compensated.
- Machine heads: precision Grover machine heads, nickel-plated on the Select and Bluegrass; nickel-plated with custom black-plated string posts and black buttons on the Neoclassical; gold-plated with custom black-plated string posts and black buttons on the Jazz and Deluxe; premium gold-plated Waverly machine heads with mother-of-pearl buttons on the Bluegrass Master Model; and premium gold-plated Waverly machine heads with black-plated string posts and ebony buttons on the Ultra.
- Replacement light-weight machine head bushings on all models, nickel-plated on the Select and Bluegrass model and custom black-plated on all other models.
- Tailpiece: black plated Rigel-style with ebony overlay on the Neoclassical and Deluxe (Macassar overlay on the Jazz); nickel-plated engraved Rigel-style on the Select; nickel-plated engraved James on the Bluegrass; gold-plated engraved James tailpiece on the Bluegrass Master Model; black-plated aluminum Price on the Ultra.
- Strap buttons: top button inside left point, nickel on Select and Bluegrass, black on others; (the end pin at tailpiece is ebony on all models except where an end-pin jack is used).
- Colors: Select and Bluegrass – traditional sunburst amber/red-brown/tobacco brown/black; Neoclassical – violin red-brown with dark shaded edges; Jazz – light violin brown with dark shaded edges; Deluxe – warm dark violin brown with dark shaded edges; Ultra – sunburst from wine-red to black; Bluegrass Master Model – vintage sunburst amber/brown/black similar to some Loar-era finishes.
- The color stains are mixed with the shellac sealer or applied directly to the wood prior to sealing.
- A grain-enhancing shellac is used as a sealer before top-coats are applied.
- Top coats are the finest waterborne varnish, an environmentally-friendly finish that is extremely durable yet flexible for sound enhancement. The coats take significantly longer to apply and polish to produce a final finish that is only .006″ thick.
- Select, Deluxe, and Ultra – made for medium-light to medium-heavy, delivered with .011″/.015″/.026″/.040″ (D’Addario J74).
- Neoclassical – made for extra-light strings, up to .010″/.013″/.022″/.034″, delivered with Dr. Thomastik mittel (mediums).
- Jazz – made for flat-wound strings 011″/.016″/.022″/.034″, delivered with Thomastik stark (heavy).
- Bluegrass and Master Model – made for medium-light to heavy strings, delivered with .011″/.015″/.026″/.040″ (D’Addario J74).