Rick Vartian
Mandolinist and lead vocalist for Seattle's now-defunct Puddle Jumpers, plays mandolin and octave mandolin. Back when the band was still together, he wrote: "The main axe that I use in the band is a 1994 Flatiron 3MB Octave Mandolin/Bouzouki. It is equipped with a Highlander active bridge pickup system that was modified for mandolin use and installed by Dusty Strings of Seattle, Washington. I run the instrument through either a Trace Elliot TA 100 concert or Roland AC 100 acoustic guitar amp to compete with our two electric guitarists on stage.
     "In addition to the above, I also occasionally play a Buscarino custom-built Les Paul–style electric mandolin. This one-of-a-kind solidbody was custom built for me by John Buscarino of Buscarino Guitars in 1992, and is an exact miniature reproduction of the famed '59 Les Paul Standard Flame Top. It features John's own internal piezo bridge pickup system (the body has been hollowed out under the bridge to give the acoustic section a more realistic sound), and the electric side is achieved using a single-coil EMG electric guitar pickup. The output is run through a custom 4-pin XLR jack to a breakout box that separates the acoustic and electric signals into two separate feeds that I run to the acoustic and electric guitar amps or a mixer. The sound is really incredible and reminiscent of the eerie high tones of Queen guitarist Brian May's own home-built electric guitar.
     "All of the non-octave mandolin work on our debut album Out of the Shadows was actually this instrument's acoustic side in action. ... "Remembering You" is an unreleased Puddle Jumpers song that I used this instrument on extensively. It handled all the electric guitar parts you will hear. There were no guitars used on this song. Everything is either my octave mando or the Buscarino. I think the solo I did with it will make you smile."