Rono Mandonator
Rono "Mandonator" 8-string resophonic acoustic/electric mandola by Ron Oates. $2,500.
This instrument bears a serial number of 012009, indicating a completion date of Jan. 20, 2009. Ron Oates' instruments are played by Michael Kang of the String Cheese Incident, and are highly sought after by jazz and jam band players. They're also notoriously hard to get, with the exception of this one.
     Triple-bound mahogany body with flame maple top and back in honey sunburst. Flame maple neck. Rosewood headstock overlay and fretboard with jumbo frets and MOP inlays. Truss rod cover inlaid with lightning bolt. Nickel tuners and Randy Allen tailpiece. "Rono" banner on headstock. Scale length is just short of 19 inches. It has a 10-inch resonator cone with biscuit bridge. Single soundhole—don't worry, it's plenty loud. Onboard pickup: plug in and it's even louder. Fantastic crisp resophonic tone with a bit of a metallic edge, tempered by the warmth of the wood.
     Some folks would call this a "baritone mandolin." I prefer to think of it as either a long-scale tenor mandola or a short-scale, double-strung tenor guitar. It sounds fantastic in CGDA or even DAEB tuning. I've also tried it as an octave mandolin in GDAE, but to my ears it's a little muddy there. Anyway, a resophonic mandolin is a joy forever, and a big one is a joy for even longer than that. It's perfect for blues, alt-country or just about any kind of acoustic-based string music where a little twang is permitted. It has been lovingly used and has a repaired headstock/neck crack (otherwise it would cost a lot more); I've included a couple of photos of it but it's not easy to spot. Comes with a handmade hardshell case by the late Kirkland, Wash., luthier Dick Linke. See more photos, hear a demo clip, or for more information. $2,500 plus shipping.