From his shop located in the heart of Colorado's San Juan Mountains, luthier Robb Brophy built Elkhorn Mandolins by hand, one at a time, hoping to capture unique subtleties and character in each instrument. While modern technology can crank out thousands of "perfect" copies of a design, the time and care invested in building an instrument by hand impart qualities that no machine can ever match. According to Brophy, "if wood is carefully chosen, admired, and lovingly worked with patience, respect and gratitude, it vibrates differently. Each specific blending of wood, technique, and time creates a unique sound never before heard."
This Elkhorn Mandolin (#51) was completed in 2017, and it is based on the classic F-5 "Fern" F-style design but with Brophy's own tweaks and innovations. It features a hand-voiced Colorado Engelmann Spruce top and a stunning one-piece Big Leaf Maple back. Its tone is rich with impressive warmth and bottom-end. It is a resonant instrument with sweet projection that cuts without sounding harsh or overly bright thanks to its flexible, well-voiced Engelmann top.
The nut width on this Elkhorn F-5 measures 1-1/8", and its solid ebony fingerboard has a 12" radius. The neck is a traditional V-shaped "boat" neck that is plenty to hang onto. With EVO gold frets, genuine Waverly tuning machines, a Cumberland Acoustics ebony bridge, and a hand-engraved James tailpiece, this Elkhorn is set up with premium components, and its overall build quality far exceeds its price point.
This 2017 Elkhart F-5 shows some cosmetic wear and signs of use, but it has been properly cared for and humidified over the years. No repairs, damages, or issues. The pervious owner added an LR Baggs Radius pickup, so it is ready to go on stage. But if desired, the pickup could easily be removed. The finish on the back of the neck is starting to wear, which makes the mandolin feel seasoned and comfortable. The sound is starting to feel broken-in and nuanced, too—like a prewar relic. This is a nice-sounding F-5 that produces a strong, balanced voice. It includes its original Superior hardshell case, which has collected a few cool stickers over the years.