English builder of custom stringed instruments. Hugh is the brother of Andy Manson, and they used to work together as the Manson Bros. This solidbody birdseye maple mandolin is the property of one Dik Thacker of the UK. Dik writes:
"I was at a musical instrument fair and the Manson Brothers had a stall there. I got chatting to Hugh and expressed an interest in a solidbody mandolin. He said that he had some birdseye maple that he would love to use, and so this mandolin was born. We subsequently looked at body shapes and the inlays, which start as a straight bar of abalone between the 18th and 19th frets and morph gradually into a bird up on the headstock. Unusually, for aesthetic reasons, there is inlay at the 9th fret position rather than the 10th. We always referred to it as 'the monster' in correspondence during its build, although it is anything but a monster. It is beautifully shaped and carved in birdseye maple. It has a straight-through neck and gold-plated tuners. It has an adjustable bridge with thumbwheels as found on an acoustic mandolin. The strings are anchored on a block machined from a block of brass. The pickup is handmade, but I don't remember the maker, it has adjustable pole pieces. The fretboard is ebony, and there is a thin strip of ebony between the neck and each of the two sides of the body.
"In terms of playability, even with acoustic-gauge strings it is easy to play and, probably because of the total adjustability. The intonation is spot-on, and it stays in tune. Sustain is remarkable, probably due to the total solidity of it.
"I've been smiling all the while I've been twiddling with it tonight and I really am grateful to you for making me love it all over again. In 1982 it cost me £211, which I guess was around $300. You certainly couldn't buy a custom-made e-mandolin for that kind of money nowadays—but I guess this was right at the start of Hugh's building career."