Limited edition Ellis F-5 Tradition mandolin

Since 1977, Tom Ellis has been cranking out quality mandolins in Austin, TX. Bluegrass fans and mandolin gurus may recognize the name in the hands of Ricky Skaggs, Buck White, Steve Smith, and many more professional mandolinists throughout their careers, respectively. Starting out very traditionally, and then experimenting a bit in the past 40+ years, Tom and the Ellis Mandolin family have decided to look back to the past for inspiration on a new limited number F style mandolin.

Tom felt it was a good time to give tribute to his early years that laid the foundation for his success today. Enter the Ellis F-5 Tradition, making its public debut just a few short weeks ago at IBMA 2018 in Raleigh, NC. Throwing back to 1977, Cathy Pelosi of Ellis & Pava Mandolins gives us an insight into what Tom Ellis has in mind for these brand new Traditions.

“Tom is voicing the Tradition slightly more along the line of David Grisman’s famous 1922 Lloyd Loar signed F-5, nicknamed ‘Crusher.’ He has always voiced his mandolins to replicate ‘The Smashed Loar’ he was in possession of.

The inspiration for the Tradition came from Tom’s desire to make a more ‘traditional’ mandolin. He has wanted to make a side bound model for a few years.

The Tradition features a vintage style logo as used from 1977 to 1980, and distinctive pearl inlay unique to this model. The logo and the mother of pearl peghead inlay is the same as the one on the first Ricky Skaggs mandolin Tom built in 1981.”

Other features in addition to the vintage style peghead inlay and side bound ivoroid binding include:

  • hot hide glue construction
  • 2-piece figured sugar maple back and maple sides
  • red spruce top
  • shellac finish
  • elongated tortoise pickguard
  • gold hardware: James tailpiece and Waverly tuners
  • Calton fiberglass case
  • 24 fret fingerboard

The limited run of Ellis F-5 Tradition also come with an option of a torrified or non-torrified red spruce top. Price point of $12,550-$12,700.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.