"Here it is January 21, I thought I would send you an update on the mandolin. It is a very good sounding mandolin. I love the profile of the neck. It is the most comfortable neck of any mandolin that I have ever played. I also love the Jescar EVO frets. The fit, finish, and workmanship are Awesome. Really enjoying it.
" Well it's going on 5 months now that I've had this Skipper A-style mandolin and let me say first that it is an incredible mandolin. Tone, volume, depth, and playability are all excellent. The tone is bright, clear, and resonant from the low open G all the way up the neck to a G fretted on the 15th fret of the E string. The volume is somewhat deceiving in that I didn't realize just how loud it could get until people at jam sessions came to me from other rooms and complimented on the sound. It's difficult to describe depth other than to say that each string and note has great girth. In terms of playability I am so thankful you put a radiused fretboard on this mando. I had played a flat fretboard for 5 years and the change was like going from driving a Conestoga wagon across a rocky field to driving a BMW on the Autobahn. Terrific!
"Let me also say that it is gorgeous. The sleek lowered pickguard; the curly maple back, sides, and neck; and the headstock overlay adorned only with the name Skipper. All top notch, professional, and 2nd to none. And it's only 5 months old. I may have to give you another report in 7 months at the year mark. That Adirondack top will have opened up even more by then. Truly special.
"I wanted to let you know again that I absolutely LOVE the 000- S guitar that you made me! The sound is clear and resonant. The bass is strong without being overpowering... well balanced and warm. Playability is superb w/ the
custom/ widened neck width and larger string spacing. You also have an incredible set up on the instrument. Fingerpicking and strumming are well suited to the 000-S. I am also enjoying the short scale ... thank you from the bottom
of my heart!"
Exerpts from a lengthy review by the owner of his second Skipper guitar:
"Overall, it looks fantastic yet not too flashy. I like a Martin D-41 & 42, but the 45 takes things too far for my taste. The little touches on this guitar are far more noticeable because there is not a lot of standard flashy inlay taking center stage."
"A beautiful job!"
"The neck, the neck, the neck! What can I say about perfection? I have a Walnut Taylor that is my main amped guitar and that neck felt exactly right from the first grab. This gave me the same sensation. It is great both up and down the neck, but the finger style barre chords I play up the neck felt just right. "
"However, there is no match for the right hand play. The strings are right where I want them to be. I don't know if this is because of your investment in the new bridge/saddle size and the new string spacing or not. I know I originally said that I don't play well enough for it to make any difference, but it felt just right from the first arpeggio. I measured it off my favorite finger style steel string, also a Taylor, when I gave you measurements. This feels even better. Interesting how a fraction of an inch is perceptible to the fingers."
"The set up is right on. Of course, not a buzz or dead place anywhere up and down the board. Great!"
"Love the ringing sustain of the Mids and bell-like clarity of the trebles. The bass is good and will only get richer without boom as it gets played in. I really like the tone as it is played up the neck. It is mellow without being muted even as the bells begin to ring in the third octave trebles."
"Overall sustain is stunning. I would expect this of an older, fine guitar, but nothing this young has this mature sustain. I visited the Martin Factory after my visit with you and played every guitar in their upscale sound room. Nothing sounded as clear and rich as this guitar."
"I found myself plucking a string and just listening until it faded away, without any vibrato added. Then adding another note until I had four strings sounding. Just listening to them ring and fade away gently. I have two fine sets of Corinthian Bells that hang outside my bedroom window. I love to listen to them because no other chime set I have heard has their rich, ringing decay to silence without any harshness at all. When my luck runs out and I have to pack up three things to carry on my bicycle to a trailer down by the river, those two sets of chimes will be strapped to one side and this guitar to the other and I will be a happy man despite it all."
"Thanks, Roger, for this wonderful experience of seeing a pure genius in action and being able to appreciate that genius every time I pick up this guitar.:
"I am always on the lookout for my dream instrument. What guitar player isn't? I play every style but jazz, and every one of them poorly. Mostly I accompany my singing, which is also poor, but not quite so anemic as my fingerboard fumblings. So I have a broad taste in guitars. And I am choosy about only two things: auditory and aesthetic excellence.
"Browsing Gruhn Guitar's website, I had just about made up my mind to sell my car, three guitars and three amps to finance a new Martin with gorgeous Guatemalan Rosewood (yes, Rosewood should always be capitalized in my world) back and sides because it was so beautiful and I have helped build and taught in a mission school in the mountains of Guatemala. That guitar would always remind me of those beautiful children and that rich experience.
"But it is my habit to finish the Gruhn inventory before I make a decision. I am a poor retiree and very cautious, infrequent buyer. I have been lusting after this Martin since I first saw it on the new inventory list in January. As I browsed down the thumbnails, I saw a slotted peghead attached to a sunburst on what looked like a dreadnaught guitar. I clicked twice and there it was, my dream guitar. I am partial to slotted headstock and own a beautiful Taylor short scale that I use for my own pleasure for fingerpicking. Many short-scale guitars have slotted peg heads, but full-size guitars seldom come that way in the catalogue. (I'm telling YOU this? Forgive me!)
"The absolute closer was the most beautiful sunburst I have ever seen on a guitar. The description of the guitar confirmed that this was perfect in every regard, from the tasteful choice of elegant inlay, which is not too much, to the beautiful rosette, the master grade red spruce, close, straight-grained Rosewood, and the... well, the whole thing.
"I researched you on the internet, found your website, saw the nearly step-by-step photo-essay about the building of 42 125, watched all three videos on U-tube, and slept on it all. The next morning, I called Tommy at Gruhn and bought the guitar, unhandled, unseen in person, and, of course, unplayed. Tommy explained that it would also be non-returnable: no 24 hour approval period for new instruments. I gulped, yet coughed up my credit card number. Buying a $4,000.00 guitar unplayed is about as wise as playing the lottery, in my book.
"I just unwrapped the guitar a few minutes ago. It is incredibly beautiful, yet avoids gaudiness.You are an artist as well as an artisan and skilled woodworker. It is powerful, perfectly fretted, carefully finished and it's neck reminds me of my Dad's 1941 Gibson L-00 that George Gruhn appraised for me a few years ago in person. That hefty neck begs for some bluegrass and country picking' but is perfect for some big sounding blues, too.
"It's tone reveals appealing balance across the register. Yet I can't wait for this top to open up. In fifteen years or so, the highs will be so sweet and round that they'll make you cry and the lows deep and rich without the obnoxious boom that can get in the way of the music. I am so pleased. As great as it sounds now, every guitar is richer with age. This guitar shows promise of becoming a multibillionaire with soul!
"Thank you so much for taking such care and putting so much artistry into this guitar. It is, in every respect, my dream strumming guitar. But more than that, this instrument bears witness to an intelligence and, if you will permit me, a soul that no other guitar I have touched has. And I love some of my other guitars for their quality and sound, don't misunderstand. But this guitar is different. It is very special and, along with Dad's guitar and my 1997 D-28, will be one of the heirlooms entrusted to my three daughters. I cannot thank you sufficiently for this work of art I just held in my hands. I promise that there will never be any holes drilled into it for electronics. I have a couple of work guitars for performance, but my heirloom guitars are whole, not holy, guitars.
"I got the mando today. It was delivered yesterday, but no one was home to sign for it, so I went to the post office this morning and got it. One word: WOW!!! You're not getting it back. Beautiful workmanship, tone, playablity and other stuff I can't even think of. Love the way, especially on the g string, the tone stays the same all the way up the neck, unlike most mandos -- they start losing it aroung the 7th fret. With used EXP74s, as good sounding, if not better than my other 2 main mandos with J75s. Give me a few months on it and I'm sure it will open up even more.
"The wood is gorgeous, especially the Adirondack top. I've got a Guild acoustic with an Adirondack top as well and just love the way it looks and the headroom. Love the timepiece, classic look with modern functionality. And the brass accents on the fretboard markers are an elegant piece of Mando bling. You wouldn't know they were there unless you looked, and when you see them you say, 'Whoa, that's so cool.'
"It survived the trip just fine. I play in the Oregon mandolin orchestra where it will get most of its work. Check it out on line. We've got about 30 members with mandolins, mandolas, mandocellos, upright basses and even a couple of mando basses, though they haven't been worked into the act yet. They are fairly recent acquisitions.Once again, thank you. I'm extremely satisfied."
"Let me start by saying thank you for creating such a wonderful instrument for me. I played until my fingers bled on Saturday and I enjoy it more with every strum. I have played guitars that sound good… I have played guitars that look good… and I have played guitars that were easy to play. This guitar is perfect blend of sound, form, and function. It struck me once I took it home that I would not trade my guitar for any other because I got exactly what I wanted. I was blown away by the attention to detail you have put in this guitar. Every square inch is perfect. The complexity of the sound and the way that you can coax so much out of it already has changed the way that I play certain lines.
"Last night I did some A/B comparison with some Martins and my Skipper-dee. Your guitar eats those things for lunch! I know some guitars are equal yet different but from what I've seen your guitars are in a different class all together."
"Thank you so much for the time and care you put into this instrument. I've only played it for a couple of hours, and I am already quite certain that it will be the instrument I play for the rest of my life. It combines a rich, deep tone with significant power in the higher registers, lending each note clarity and articulation. It is also very easy to play -- an added bonus. I also greatly appreciate your candor and honesty throughout this process. You have done a marvelous job; in the future, I will very strongly recommend you to any violinist seeking a new instrument."
"The sound is fat and rich with harmonics and sustain that allows the guitar to ring out a note or chord and dare you to hold your breath until the echoes stop."
[Click here for a more extensive review of this instrument]
"I love the tone of my Skipper mandolin and fiddle. I still take notice when I pick them up to play, how great they sound. The craftsmanship is first rate - they are truly works of art. Andrew Nelson from our band, Aurora Celtic, also plays a Skipper mandolin and guitar. I know he is thrilled with them both and they record wonderfully."
Mike Broderick (Aurora Celtic)
"Roger’s craftsmanship and woodwork is in my opinion, second to none and the banjo that he built for me is truly amazing. The bright sound, tone and punch is far superior to anything that I have played or ever hope to play. I can not begin to explain how it feels to have an instrument of this quality, hanging from a strap. It screams to be played."
Sheriff Rob Corley Garrett County Maryland
"I have performed on many violins throughout my forty-one-year career as a symphony violinist, and I can honestly say none of my so-called 'well-known' violins (modern and vintage) could equal the tone quality of the violin Roger Alan Skipper custom made for me. When it comes to craftsmanship, tone quality, depth, resonance of sound, and quick-and-easy tonal response, Roger Alan Skipper is the master of his art!
"Roger also created for me a magnificent F-style mandolin that mimics all of the above qualities of my violin. I personally witnessed both instruments being conceived from a slab of wood to a superb masterpiece.
"I am proud to own two instruments by a man who will undoubtedly be acknowledged as one of America's great luthiers."
Richard A. DiAdamo, retired violinist
"There are a lot of 'professional' luthiers out there these days . . . they are as common as crane flies in a midwest dust bunny. However, once in a while you'll find an 'up and coming' builder whose work rivals that of craftsmen that command prices that are much higher.
"Roger Skipper is one such fellow
"I recently received an F-5 Skipper mandolin, and I am ecstatic!!! The tone, volume, and playability are impeccable, and the customer service is incredible. The 'gourd' is a work of art!!! Get on the wagon early!!! I heartily
endorse Roger's instruments!"
"When I ordered a guitar from Roger Skipper I didn't expect the wonderful instrument I received. It is so finely crafted it could hang on the wall of the Metropolitan Museum. The sound is rich, warm, vibrant, and reminiscent of
a vintage Martin."
Carlton A. Jones
"I commissioned Roger to craft a very special violin for my father's birthday present. Roger was ingenious in his ideas and truly a master of his craft. The violin brought tears to my father's eyes when it was presented to him and he told me that it was the nicest gift anyone has ever given him. I would recommend Roger to anyone looking for that one of a kind instrument."
Andrew L. Eiswert
"You wrote to Andrew asking about the violin he commissioned from Roger. But, strictly speaking, all he really knows of the Roger Skipper violin he and my other children gave me as a present last Christmas is how very pleased their father was with the gift. (Whatever the shortcomings of the music they have heard produced by the instrument is surely that of the player and not the violin.) I know you are familiar with the instrument having seen and played it. For my part, all I know is that it is a beautifully made violin the playing of which gives me great pleasure and, I am told, renders even my playing enjoyable to others. This is high praise indeed."
Leonard J. Eiswert, Esquire
"Roger Skipper's instruments are high quality one of a kind creations. His craftsmanship gives each of his instruments its uniqueness, and they are truly second to none. I am proud to own one of his instruments."
"When I was asked to write a few words about Roger Skipper's instruments, I wondered how I could convey that the workmanship is of the highest quality and that they produce such beautiful tones. Then I remembered the time, when in his shop, I noticed a mandolin that was near completion. Roger told me that he was not completely satisfied with the tone and that he was going to make a new top for it. I thought it was fine, but Roger's instruments are extensions of who he is. Each instrument he builds is a labor of love. This is obvious by the high standard each has to meet and the attention to detail he gives each one. As a talented musician, as well as a gifted craftsman, Roger draws from both skills to produce some of the finest instruments available today."
"When Roger became aware that I was looking for a new fiddle, he brought out several of his recently made instruments and said "Choose one that you like!" They all sounded so good that it was one of the hardest decisions I've ever had to make. Roger's so easy to work with and his bottom line was making sure I was happy with my new instrument.
"Now, I currently own two of Roger's instruments. A fiddle and a mandolin. Roger knows wood, and he's also a musician who understands tone. Only the best spruce, maple, craftsmanship and materials go into a Skipper instrument and because of that there will never be a price tag on any of my Skippers!
"The new Skipper guitars are incredible. Native red spruce from the Alleghenies, and a tone that resonates through the WHOLE instrument. I don't find many guitars that use the sum of its parts to produce music like that. That doesn't happen by accident."
"Over the last 25 years, I have owned Martin and Gibson Guitars, Stelling, Gibson, Baldwin, and Erickson Banjos, a Givens' Mandolin, and others. For me, the sound of a musical instrument is critical. I've known Roger and have played his hand-made instruments, including several mandolins, a guitar, a banjo, and a fiddle (which I purchased three years ago). Roger's focus on detail and his set-up skills translate into top-sounding instruments. His understanding of the variables (materials, strings, installation techniques, craftsmanship and pride) has resulted in more than sixty handmade "Skipper" instruments.
"For anyone looking for his or her next instrument, do take the time to contact Roger. I have no buyer's remorse."
"The mandolin Roger made for me is my first custom instrument. I have always wanted to learn how to play mandolin, and I decided to invest in a good one. For the last several years, Roger and Bill would come down to play a little for us while we were hunting and always had a great time, and every instrument there was made by Roger. I could not believe the sound and quality. I asked Roger if he would make a mandolin for me and he got this big smile on his face; he and I were both excited as we discussed timing, finishes, and price. We shook hands and made the deal. I can honestly say to anyone interested, as long as Roger Skipper is making custom musical instruments, I know I would buy from him before anyone else because of his excellent products, skills, knowledge, pride and his eagerness to make his cutomers happy. I am very pleased with my mandolin and get many good compliments."
"Roger Skipper is undoubtedly the finest craftsman that I have ever known. He made me a banjo with the airplane that I flew during the Korean War on the back, and Roger's inlaid plane looks exactly like the one I flew. The banjo is absolutely the finest I have ever seen or played."