I was having a look at some luthier sites the other day and came across Mandolins by Peter Coombe, and thought it would be good to review a local Australian luthier from Canberra.

I’ve seen and admired Peter Coombe’s mandolins at the National Folk Festival – they have a beautiful sound, and look great – making excellent use of Australian timbers, such as Tasmanian myrtle and Queansland maple.

He has an extensive website, and with the high quality sound and finish on his instruments, it is no wonder there is a two year waiting list. He works with his clients to identify what type of sound and what timbers would best suit the individual. You can hear sound samples of his mandolins on the website.

I particularly like the detailed step-by-step construction process he has on the website so you can see how your instrument will be made. It is also a great help for the novice maker such as myself, to see how certain aspects of the construction should be done. And I like the refreshingly honest way he describes how construction doesn’t always go entirely smoothly, and how to adjust things if there are minor mistakes, or flaws in the timber.

I also like the way he deals with the sensitive issue of rare or endangered Australian timbers, such as King Billy pine used on his Goldfinch series – that such timber is not to be wasted even if there are minor flaws – the occasional visual blemish must be tolerated as long as tone isn’t compromised – and after all it is the sound that sets Peter Coombe’s mandolins apart from the Korean factory imports.

If you are looking for a superb instrument with the distinctive look of Australian timber, then I highly recommend checking out Peter Coombe’s mandolins. And check them out at the next National Folk Festival if you are in Canberra around Easter time.