Rigel
Rigel G110 ca. 1997, tobacco sunburst. $3,000.
Sweet-sounding acoustic/electric mandolin, plays very smoothly like all Rigels. Tremendously responsive and fast, with an enormous open voice.
     This Rigel bears serial number 1286 on a green label marked Jeffersonville, Vermont. Thus it dates from late 1997 or so, the initial chapter of Rigel history, when G110s were being built one at a time by hand in luthier Pete Langdell's one-man shop. It has the electric guitar–style back plate with four screws holding the bolt-on neck in place. (On later Rigels, there's no back plate; the screws were driven in the opposite direction, from underneath the fretboard.)
     It's been well cared for; there's some minor tarnishing on the tailpiece, moderate player wear, and only a few inconsequential light finish scratches. Features a flamed maple back of strong narrow curl, Vermont rock maple sides, Adirondack spruce top, flame maple neck with graphite reinforced rod, compound-radiused ebony fretboard with abalone diamond-pattern inlays, Loar-style adjustable bridge, and proprietary Rigel internal piezo pickup. Gold-plated hardware including Grover tuners and 1-piece downhook tailpiece. 3-ply abbreviated pickguard. The rectangular tweed hardshell case with green lining is heavily scuffed and has some tears in the fabric, having taken quite a beating over the years while sparing the mandolin from a similar fate.
     These days, the MSRP on a new G110 is $5,495, and they're available only by custom order. Secondhand ones are getting harder to find. I still esteem Rigels as the finest acoustic/electric mandolins ever built. For such a wonderful instrument, the asking price is really quite modest. See more photos, or for more information. $3,000 plus shipping.