Without wanting to make too bad a judgment on a different guitar, against the Reid Vaultback, a normal price industry guitar would seems as it were the handicraft of a ten-year old child. Extraordinary, unique, far away from any mainstream and artistically valuable. The Vaultback Halo of DAR is a masterpiece of contemporary lutherie – without ifs and buts. Its unbelievable value as a musical instrument competes with its artistic quality. I am honoured to have been allowed to play a guitar that differs so much from anything known and which leaves such an impression. Considering how rare these creations are, how innovative, refined and special, I want to predict that they will also play a prominent role in the future.

Grand Gtrs Magazine

Realwood Headstock

Guitarbench.com - Different Strings takes a look at the Combolin 2013

This month, we present two Different Strings features. This first one is a multi-string instrument combining a guitar and a mandolin. Built by David Antony Reid in his London, UK workshop, it features a lute-like back construction.

_reviews - Guitarbench-Article-2013-Cambolin_icon.jpgDavid says: “Robbie Leask, of the Scottish band, Corran Raa, became the proud owner of one of my VaultBack acoustics in the summer of last year. Soon after his purchase, he spoke to me with great glee about the pleasure it brought him; then, proceeded to ask me of a mythical instrument that was a guitar/ mandolin.”

“Ah, that’s a Combolin”, I told him. “Invented by, Roy Williamson, of the Scottish folk band, The Corries, back in 1969.” The Combolin, since, has been made by a select few of the world’[s finest luthiers. Robbie asked if I could make him such a tool, and I was delighted to help out. Most luthiers have made the Combolin in a fairly traditional style, usually with a mandolin piggybacked onto the guitar like a Siamese twin, but I wanted to have a modern take on this mythical machine. So, working closely with Robbie, I came up with this design, and it is a VaultBack. The materials of choice were: cocobolo for the back and sides, master grade, cross silked Sitka spruce for the top, Macassar ebony for the finger boards and mandolin bridge, layered Indian ebony and cocobolo for the guitar bridge, Brazilian mahogany for the necks, flamed maple for the bindings, and birdseye maple for the head veneers and bevel, the rosette is of cocobolo, Macassar ebony and birdseye maple. Everything is entirely made by hand. No CNC machines, no laser cutters, no routers, no thickness sanders. Just traditional skills, top quality hand tools and lots of patience! For those of you asking “Why?” Well, the structural refinements I employ in these instruments are quite simply not feasible in a production based outfit, and most of these processes quite simply would not be practical in a machine-based outfit.

Imagine setting up a jig for a router that has to fit tantelons to an individual curve for each one of them on a vaulted back, for just one example - that’s 86 per side on average! When you use machines you also disregard the constant touch and feel understanding of the materials being used. Simply handling the parts constantly as you construct them by hand helps massively to hear, and feel the end result. As they say: the proof of the pudding is in the eating. Tonally I am very proud of my achievements with this instrument. The guitars’ bass is fat and rounded, and the mandolins’ trebles are sweet and crisp. And the mids sit perfectly balanced in- between. Quite simply, the mandolin sounds like a quality mandolin, and the guitar sounds like a quality guitar - something I have never found in any double necked instrument! So, what you get here is the absolute best for your money.