Local Anderson Valley redwood & cherry A-5 mandolin

Here’s the second mandolin from the last batch: another A-5, made with local Anderson Valley redwood & cherry. The redwood is from an old Navarro sheep barn, which was located not far from David’s shop, and the cherry is from an old Philo orchard. Some folks have described its tone as earthy and bell-like.

This unique A-5 is for sale & available to demo at the Dart Instruments showroom in Navarro. Contact David if you’re interested in this instrument or another similar custom one!

“Songbird” – maple & spruce A-5 mandolin

This gorgeous mandolin was custom-built for the talented Sarah Larkin of local favorites The Real Sarahs. It’s a classic A-5, with eastern sugar maple (Massachusetts) sides/back/neck, Sitka spruce top, ebony fingerboard/overlay/pickguard/bridge, and ivoroid binding, as well as a hand-rubbed sunburst & nitrocellulose lacquer finish. The inlay was Sarah’s idea and David’s design & was hand-cut from abalone, mother-of-pearl, and Sterling silver.

Contact David if you’re interested in a custom mandolin like this one!

“The Cardinal” F-5 Mandolin

Wow! This spectacular mandolin is now at home in Georgia. Check out that inlay – abalone/mother-of-pearl cardinal & dogwood flowers on the peghead, fingerboard, and finger-rest. It’s got a Sitka spruce top, curly English sycamore sides & back, ivoroid binding, Waverly tuners, ebony fingerboard/overlay/bridge/finger-rest, as well as a nitrocellulose lacquer over a hand-rubbed sunburst finish.

“Four-leaf clover” curly spalted maple & rosewood baritone ukulele

Back in 1971, David saved some chunks of this curly maple from a friend’s burn pile in Olympia, Washington & had been waiting for the right instrument to cut it up. Turns out it’s perfectly sized for a baritone ukulele! This one was for a friend who lost her Dart baritone uke in a structure fire towards the end of 2019.

In addition to the curly western maple top/back/sides, this instrument has a western maple neck, rosewood fingerboard/binding/bridge/peghead overlay, Waverly tuners, hand-cut abalone four-leaf clover peghead & fingerboard inlay, mother-of-pearl side dots, bone nut & saddle, and a K&K pickup.

A pair of koa six-string tenor ukuleles

A customer in Florida who owns one of David’s koa concert ukuleles recently ordered a fun custom instrument: a six-string tenor ukulele, with double-strung first & third courses (high to low: AA E Cc G, where the double A is tuned in unison and the double C is tuned to an octave).

We built two of these beauties. Both have solid koa top/back/sides & a black acacia neck, Waverly tuners, bone nut & saddle, abalone fingerboard markers, mother-of-pearl side dots, polyurethane matte finish, and fluorocarbon strings. The custom ordered one has an ebony fingerboard/bridge & an abalone daisy peghead inlay, and the second one has rosewood & an old-timey abalone vine peghead inlay.

These instruments have big presence & projection, with a prominent chorus effect from the doubled strings – perfect for a ukulele player looking for a fuller ukulele sound to keep up with a band, or to add another element to their solo playing.

Rare & unique vintage Epiphone repair

Here’s a rare one – an Epiphone Electar guitar, circa 1935-1939. There’s not too much information about these out there, but Fretted Americana Inc. had some detailed information about this model, which was Epiphone’s first electric guitar and notable for its Miessner pickup. There’s easy access to the pickup through a cavity on the back, which was covered by a screwed-on padded plate. Lots of information on the peghead: the plate on the back of the displays several patent numbers, and the four-digit serial number is stamped atop.

This guitar badly needed a neck reset & good setup, but otherwise it’s in great condition & it played well once the strings were back on.

According to Fretted Americana, this guitar is what attracted none other than Les Paul to the Epiphone company & later Gibson. If you’re interested in modern/electric guitar history, the article is linked above, and here’s the url as well, just in case:


Work in progress: a special F-5 Mandolin

Over the past couple of months, David’s been busy with a custom F-5 mandolin. This one has the works: a Sitka spruce top, stunning curly English sycamore back & sides, ebony fingerboard/peghead overlay and underlay/bridge/finger-rest, and – last but not least – inlaid cardinals and dogwood flowers. It’s almost ready for its sunburst finish, so check back soon for more photos.

There’s another pair of A-5 mandolins in progress, too – get in touch if you’re interested in one.

To see other examples of David’s mandolins, click here.

Custom acacia tenor ukulele

A customer liked our recent run of tenor ukuleles, especially the X-braced acacia one, but he was interested in a few upgrades: a tie block, Waverly tuners, ebony binding, and an iris inlay on the peghead. These northern California black acacia instruments sound fantastic, and it looks a lot like koa; in fact, koa is in the acacia family.

There are three tenor ukuleles at the showroom, looking for a good home for the holidays. Get in touch with David if you’re interested in one!

Mahogany & spruce 0-size parlor guitar

This is a sweet guitar, with big sound for a small-bodied instrument. The other three from the batch didn’t stay around long, but you can try this one out at the showroom. More info & specs here.

Repair work on a ’54 Tele

There was a real gem on the bench recently – a 1954 Fender Telecaster. Owned by the same guy since the ’60s, this Tele needed some serious fretwork & a little cleanup on the input jack contacts; otherwise, it’s in fine well-played condition, with a stage-ready three-level boost built into the pickup selector plate.

This one has a good home already – just sharing a cool classic.