Features include: quilted maple back and sides, Engelmann spruce top, moose bone nut and saddle, 18 moose hoof print markers, custom inlays of 3 meese, and a leafless tree some of whose branches are covered with snow, surrounded by a dark, glowing sunburst finish. Inside it harbors, for sheer versatility, a McIntyre Feather pickup.
Rolfe Gerhardt of South Thomaston, Maine makes every instrument with an eye toward perfection in both artisanship and sound and he does so by combining consummate ability, whimsy and humor not seen often enough in these apprehensive times. The most recent mandolin he sent us is titled "Moose T(h)ree." On it, using wood and inlay, he depicts on the pickguard a moose couple spooning under a tall tree and a moose calf over there on the tailpiece; there are moose prints on the fingerboard. Moose T(h)ree! It's a triple pun - get it? Triple because you see three meese on the pickguard and tailpiece, you see mooses and a tree (Moose Tree) and thirdly because you will remember that Phoenix had earlier made the original Moose Model Mandolin, and then Moosie II, both of which we sold. The nut and saddle are carved, of course, of moose bone; the sound is as haunting as a mating call at midnight.
The three-dimensional quilting of the maple on the two-piece back and the back of the neck is memorable and an image to be savored. Said neck is a comfortable 1 3/16th” (the perfect sized neck for a mandolin in our opinion), the scale length is nominally 14”, and the width of the two-point body at the widest part is 10 1/8”. The slightly scooped (at bottom end) ebony fingerboard is radiused for easier access to the learned hand. The moose prints we spoke of start on the headstock at the first string and then meander their way through the forest first to the bass (while still on the ‘stock) then to the treble at the 7th fret, then to the bass at the 12th fret and finally off the bass side with one print at the 15th. The 12th fret is the only fret with a double hoof print (in keeping with tradition). Another lovely touch is that the branches of that tall tree extend onto the lower treble edge of the fingerboard at frets 21 and 22. The bridge bass appears to be made from highly figured flamed maple that matches the wood on the side, and the carved saddle is a work of artistic majesty about which any moose would be proud, though he may limp from the generous donation. The tailpiece is Rolfe’s unique style – an amalgam of ebony and black chrome plated steel; the Engelmann top is perfectly parallel grained and the sound is colossally clean and clear while retaining a rich rumbling radiance. Playing even the most rudimentary chords on it may bring tears to the player’s eyes. “Ah, sweet Moose T(h)ree of Life, at last I’ve found thee. . . . “
This is one of the finest and most beautiful mandolins we are presently offering.