Old Wave acoustic/electric mandola, 1991. $2,000.
New Mexico's Bill Bussmann, maker of Old Wave Mandolins, has earned a reputation as a first-rate luthier. He's known not only for the quality of his work, but for using Southwestern-sourced woods and other materials, and for a quirky sense of fun that shines through in some of his more unusual instruments.
     This A-style mandola, serial #91021, is certainly unusual, but Bill disavows having made it so. That is, the Seymour Duncan "Dimebag Darrell" twin-blade humbucker, along with volume control and a pair of switches, were added to the instrument sometime after he built it. A pure acoustic player might not care to have that thing attached to the instrument, but the truth is that this mandola still sounds fine acoustically, with plenty of punch and warmth. Plugged in, you can get tones from "amplified acoustic" to shred-ready, depending on how far you're willing to turn it up. It's strung with nickel-steel strings to take advantage of the pickup. I'd love to try some flatwounds on it, but haven't done so yet. I will include a set of La Bella "JazzDola" flatwounds with it, if you want.
     Spruce top, figured maple back and neck, 17" scale, blond finish, simply gorgeous. Some pickwear on the treble bout, but in really good condition otherwise. If I read the serial number right, this is Bill's 21st instrument, built in 1991. He doesn't make F-hole mandolas any more, and charges $3,200 for a new oval-hole A-style mandola. This one comes in a heavy-duty, super-padded Weber hardshell case. See more photos, or for more information. $2,000 plus shipping. 48-hour approval period.