In the mandolin world, the name "Nugget" is synonymous with the utmost level of quality. Every "Nugget" mandolin is built entirely by master luthier Mike Kemnitzer, and every effort is taken to assure each aspect of the instrument is of the highest quality. The mandolins speak for themselves! Each Nugget is an inspiring instrument with its own unique character, more than capable of pushing your playing lightyears ahead.
The Nugget design is steeped in tradition. Over the years, Mike has had the great fortunate to study, repair, and learn from Loar-signed mandolins of the 1920s. These iconic instruments are a tremendous influence, and Mike seeks to capture some of their spirit and character in each of his mandolins.
No matter what you're building, the surest way to positive results is to start with the right materials, and Nugget has a reputation for using only the finest aged tonewoods. Over the years, Mike amassed quite the collection of Spruce and Maple, and he only uses old, properly-seasoned wood that is exceptionally resonant and holds up to his exacting standards.
Perhaps the greatest strength of Nugget mandolins is the meticulous care Mike puts into tuning the top and back plates. His goal is to maximize the tone quality, responsiveness, and balance. What he's able to achieve is impressive. Every Nugget rings clear and true all the way down the fingerboard, and each note blooms with complexity and musicality. These are serious mandolins for serious players.
The Nugget A Deluxe is essentially an F5 without the points and curl. The delicate arch and gradation of the top and back—as well as the f-hole placement and scale length—are identical to an F-5. The result is sweet, round tone that still projects and cuts like an F-style.
While Nuggets sound fantastic when they're brand new, mandolins need time to break in, mature, and reach their full sonic potential. Because of that, many Nuggets are still on their way, but this 1998 Nugget A Deluxe (#214) has the nuanced, seasoned tone of a mandolin that has opened up. Although it's only 25 years old, it packs the character and subtlety of a treasured heirloom mandolin. This A Deluxe produces sweet tone with smooth articulation and clarity, and its Maple back and sides show elegant flame.
This 1998 Nugget A Deluxe has been played, and it general playwear, minor dings, and scuffs here and there. The worst is a ding on the treble side right by the pickguard, and the finish is particularly worn along the bass edge where your arm rests on the top (see photos). The finish on the back of the neck is worn thin in all the regular places, but that makes the neck feel comfortable and broken-in. At one point along the way, it was returned to Nugget's shop in Central Lake, Mich. for a tuneup. He refretted it with EVO gold frets, optimized the setup, and rebuffed the finish into a polished gloss (it had been somewhat satin before).
Used Nuggets are hard to find, and good luck trying to secure a new order on Mike's extensive waiting list. Whoever ends up with this mandolin in their hands will be glad they did. Calton case included.