photo: Gruhn Guitars
The Unicorn brand was established in San Antonio, Texas, by Rolfe Gerhardt, who currently makes Phoenix mandolins. It was known primarily for standard A-style acoustic mandolins. In the early 1980s, Rolfe sold the business to his apprentice, Dave Sinko.
Sergio Lara joined Sinko in 1984 as a partner and co-owner. He writes: "I am not a builder; I took care of management and sales, and as a player I had input with designs and ideas. ... I started working on an electric mandolin design, and there were a few prototypes, including two solidbody double cutaways, two or three Fender-style solidbodies [below], and the F-5 roundback style [above]." This instrument features a composite back, similar to an Ovation. Sergio continues: "There were only about 12 made. All of them were F styles, some with F holes and some with round holes. There were many colors: red, green, sunburst, pink, natural and a blue one I gave to Sam Bush."
As for the Mandocaster-style instrument, it's Unicorn No. 184, dated June 1986, in birdseye maple, sporting a Barcus-Berry pickup.