Stephen Holst jazz mandolin, acoustic/electric, 2003. $2,800.
Luthier Stephen Holst has developed a small but fiercely dedicated following for his forward-looking designs for handcrafted mandolins and archtop jazz guitars. This F-style Holst mandolin, crafted in April 2003, reminds one of a Monteleone Radio Flyer with its wide-open sound holes, futuristic headstock, and carved ebony tailpiece (but without the $30,000 price tag). It's an ideal mandolin for swing, Brazilian choro, or jazz, favoring sweetness and clarity in its exceptionally voiced tone. And it's pluggable: an onboard K&K Twin pickup reproduces its tone faithfully. These days, Stephen's F-style instruments start at $4,000, but this one can be yours for significantly less.
     Very good condition, except for one repaired crack along the lower portion of the bass soundhole. This never went all the way through the top wood. It has been inspected and glued and is solid, if cosmetically undesirable. Also, some well-meaning but misguided soul evidently used a fine-tipped black marker to make tiny positioning marks for the bridge. Apart from that, there are just a couple of barely perceptible nicks in the finish. Includes rectangular TKL hardshell case. See more photos, or for more information. Used. $2,800 plus shipping. 48-hour approval period.
     It's a wonderful player: amazingly responsive with a fast neck and tremendous dynamic range. Want to know what it sounds like? Fortunately, Holst owner Terry Lewis has posted a number of YouTube clips featuring his Holst mandolins. Here's just one of those: