Mike McNelly must like the instruments I build – he’s recently taken delivery of his third, a Mandolin. Mike hails from California and first got in touch back in June 2013 to enquire about a large body bouzouki. This instrument was delivered mid 2014. Then a few years later, Mike was back in touch to enquire about a smaller, more melody-based instrument to complement the LBB, which is more suited to rhythm and accompaniment. We settled on a small body mandola with a 490mm scale length and tuning CGDA. This one was finished in August 2015 and Mike flew over from the States to collect it. I remember this one – it had a lovely clear, bright and punchy tone, great for playing the tunes!

Then in the Spring of 2021 Mike was back in touch asking about mandolins. He saw a Facebook post about one I was building for a customer in Ireland and got in touch to talk about whether it was possible to customise one for his particular style of playing as he hadn’t had much luck finding one that suited anywhere else. We made the instrument with a slightly longer scale length than standard and also changed the geometry of the instrument, making the neck a wee bit longer. Also a small change to the side profile and slightly altered top bracing helped to emphasise the mids and lower register.

August this year and DHL collected the instrument from me, and astonishingly delivered it into Mike’s hands just 4 days later – still in tune! He loves the instrument and here‘s a photo of it at its first session just a few days later, and another photo of all three Tobins together.