Phoenix Jazz
Phoenix Jazz 8-string. $4,500.
Phoenix mandolins were made in Maine, first by Rolfe Gerhardt, who retired in 2015 and handed the business over to Jenny Warner. Warner built Phoenixes for three years before closing up shop. Phoenixes were always a rare commodity, and will just get rarer—they're not building any more of them.
     The Jazz model was Phoenix's entry into the e-mando market; this one is numbered 650 and was built during Warner's tenure. These mandolins were carefully voiced for acoustic jazz tone, with the sustain and playability of Phoenix's Neoclassical model but more bass and more “punch.” It's designed to be played with Thomastik "Stark" (heavy) flatwound strings. Currently this one has D'Addario roundwound strings, but I will supply a set of flatwounds with it if you want them.
     The finest grade of Bosnian spruce was used in the top. For the sides, back and neck, the softer red maple, while still highly figured, was used to keep the tone warm and “dark.” Higher and wider frets were also needed to allow the jazz player to bend strings and chord quickly and cleanly.
     Then, to emphasize the distinction of the Jazz model from the rest of the Phoenix line, striped Macassar ebony was used for the headstock overlay, fretboard, saddle, tailpiece overlay, and finger rest. Fretboard has micro snail-dot position markers offset under the G strings, as well as matching side markers. To harmonize with the Macassar ebony, a lighter Deluxe stain was used under the varnish finish. Black and gold hardware complete the elegant appearance.
     A McIntyre Feather piezo pickup provides the wood sound amplification, while a suspended magnetic pickup custom created by Kent Armstrong provides the electronic sound. The pickups are wired to a stereo endpin jack; use a mono cable and you'll get only the Armstrong, while a stereo cable and dual preamp will allow you to blend or split the tones. This instrument has seen some use and is in good although not pristine condition. There are a few pick scratches on the top and some minor wear on the edges of the headstock, the treble point, and the treble side. It comes in a Hiscox hardshell case. See more photos, call 425/772-0231, or for more information. $4,500 plus shipping.