Welcome to the Apitius Mandolin Co. website where I take great pride in being 100 years behind the times!
Apitius mandolins are entirely hand made, by me alone, in a climate controlled workshop, using only traditional materials and methods. I believe that hand-crafting gives my instruments a quality and “soul” that just isn’t there in modern production line instruments. For example, all of my pearl shell inlays are sawn by hand and though modern computer controlled processes are very precise, they lack the human element of slight variations that make each instrument truly unique, just like the original F-5s. As well, the sunburst staining is applied by hand rubbing, not sprayed like the vast majority of modern mandolins are. This results in an authentic vintage look and gives each instrument a truly unique character.
The "Apitius Sound" comes from decades of research and development. Meticulous note taking and careful experimentation has resulted in a sound that is rich in desirable overtones, even note to note balance and an incredible dynamic range. The Apitius sound can be coaxed out with the lightest touch or driven to volumes limited only by the musician's attack.
My approach is to 'see further by standing on the shoulders of giants'. The Lloyd Loar signed instruments of the 1920s set a very high bar indeed. In my mandolins, I endeavor to re-create the hand made, outward aesthetics of the vintage F-5s while using my patent pending technique for graduating the top plates to even further refine the sound. My motivation comes from a desire to produce the best mandolins that I possibly can. I am not interested in mediocrity or second best.
In keeping with this philosophy, I have also moved to traditional finishing methods. Employing only natural resins, Apitius mandolins are now finished in the traditional “French polish” method which is not only environment friendly and sustainable but also results in a finish that is highly repairable, and improves with age. Best of all, this finishing method allows for a very thin film thickness that is crucial in achieving the best sound possible. Traditional hot hide glue is still the very best glue for fine musical instruments and for that reason is used on all wood to wood joints on my mandolins. It's not the easiest glue to work with but it's never been about easy.
In 2015 I built a brand new workshop and completely re-tooled, making new forms molds and fixtures. I have made refinements to the body, headstock and fingerboard shapes to more closely capture the look and feel of the 1920s F-5s. As always, the sound is the result of decades of dedicated research and development which has resulted in my unique, patent pending, method of graduating and tuning the plates. I also offer a "Loar Spec." voicing for those desiring the ultimate in a traditional, Monroe style, bluegrass instrument.
Feel free to look around and contact me if you have any questions. I will respond as quickly as I can. Some areas of this website are frequently updated, so check back periodically as I will be adding more photos and information as time allows.
"Apitius"......... uh - PIT - tee - us (Much like the last four syllables of "Strad ivarius")
Here's what a group of incredibly talented musicians are saying about Apitius Mandolins.
In alphabetical order
Performer, composer, instructor David Benedict with his Apitius Mandolin.
Multi-instrumentalist and composer, Ashley Broder and her Apitius mandolin.
Composer and Multi-instrumentalist Jefferson Louvat with his custom left handed, Apitius mandolin.
Award Winning Mandolinist Elijah Moore and his Classic model Apitius.
Singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and Grammy winner Forrest O'Connor
Don Stiernberg is regarded as a leading exponent of the jazz mandolin style, and a respected teacher.
Called “the Groucho of the violin” by Tony Bennett and “a perfect musician” by jazz guitar legend, Bucky Pizzarelli, Aaron Weinstein is a jazz virtuoso on mandolin as well as the violin.
"This mandolin plays like a dream! It has the most extraordinarily warm, round acoustic tone that is virtually unchanged when plugged in. It's the perfect jazz mandolin sound, the sound that I've been searching for. This instrument is a game changer!"
New York, NY
Forrest O'Connor comenting on the first ever "LS" model. A Rosine LS #13119
"I did get to spend some time playing it today though, and it only took about 10 or 15 seconds to realize that you accomplished your goal with this one! To be honest, it may be my favorite directly Loar-inspired mandolin I've ever played. I would say that my Grand Classic has a little more depth (which makes sense given the design differences), but there are other things about the Rosine that are just inspiring. Whether it's because of the design or because you just keep getting even better with each mandolin, I feel like it may have the edge in projection, acceleration, and perhaps even midrange magic. It actually reminds me of Crusher, Grisman's Loar (the best Loar I've ever played)."
"I got to spend a little more time playing the Rosine LS at Carter's over the weekend, and man I can't get that sound out of my head! I think I'd regret it if I didn't jump on the chance to get it."
"Oliver Apitius is making some of the best mandolins on the planet. The sound is rich and warm without being tubby. They are powerful and clear with a brightness that is never tinny or thin. Whether I'm playing blues, swing, bluegrass or accompanying contemporary songwriters, Oliver's mandolins come through with shining colours. From vintage ######s to #########s, I've played lot's of excellent mandolins but an Apitius stands proudly beside the best of the best."
I received the mandolin this morning. It was BETTER than I remembered. I have named her Patricia after my mother. She likewise had an amazing voice.
This is one of the finest examples of an ultra high quality instrument I have played and I will be proud to watch your eminent success as I believe people will absolutely notice!
I am blessed and proud to be linked to the Apitius brand.
"just now I taught a lesson and we worked on chord melody arrangements. Man this mandolin is made for that! The sustain makes more things possible."
I finally got to play the mandolin after returning to Nashville this evening -- wow!! What a fantastic instrument! It's making me not want to pick up my #### anymore."
I got to spend more time with the mandolin yesterday, and I have to say -- this is a magical instrument! I absolutely love the mandolin. I haven't had an instrument inspire me to just sit around and play for a pretty long time, and this one does just that. I was playing along with some recordings in my home studio -- I had my speakers blaring, and somehow I could still hear my own playing. I can't believe how much the mandolin can be driven. And yet it has the sustain of a softer, sweeter wood that opens up so many other musical possibilities.
So, in short, I am definitely keeping it!!"
It arrived safe and sound yesterday. I'm very pleased with the instrument. I look forward to spending more time really getting to know it and opening it up, but my initial impression is that it has exactly the tone I was hoping for, perhaps even better than I could have imagined. Thank you for your unparalleled craftsmanship and outstanding communication throughout this process.
"Greetings Oliver, It’s been about 2 years since I purchased the Club Jazz. The more I play it the more I accomplish. It is wonderful. Therefore I would like to be placed on your list for a Rosine model with white tuners and your flower pot (just like what is on my Club Jazz). I could elaborate more about my decision to buy another one of your mandolins but I wont at this time. Please consider me as being serious.
Very best regards to you,
Salt Lake City, UT
The mandolin you built for me is something. All else is, well, suffice it to say, left wanting. I may have already said thanks but this is THANKS
I love the Yorkville. The tone and timbre are beautiful. Your workmanship is meticulous. It really is pleasant to look at. Thank you for building me such a beautiful and unique instrument.
Best of luck to you. Thanks Again Mike"
Michael Klein (repeat customer)
Orchard Park, NY
Well I finally opened the case and my first thought was one of Awe. The pictures do not show all the subtle lines that add to the visual.
I was amazed at the depth of tone once I turned it up was smooth and mellow and at the same time loud and boisterous. This is the first time playing a radius fret board and my fingers just went where they needed to go with ease.
I must say that the wait and anticipation were worth the wait."
"I was so damned excited about my Mando, I forgot to tell you how thrilled I am about the Hoffee case and cover, the fit and finish are amazing. You made a great choice when you decided to start using the Hoffee case’s. "
"Hey Buddy! OH Brother I really am in love-maybe a tad of lust with my new mandolin! It has it going on! I haven't put my favorite strings on yet but the ones you put on are still pretty bright and work, I love the whole package, the feel of the neck is perfect as is the intonation, playability, clarity, note separation and so on is all there! It'll only get better the more I play her!
Yep, its fair to say you hit a home run and nailed it! I'm so happy I had you do this for me."
Sugar Grove, PA
"She's absolutely amazing - I can't put it down. I've really missed having one of your instruments. Makes my ******* feel and sound like a toy. Thank you so much for this."
J. Mondick (repeat customer)
First off, let me say, you should be very proud of your work.....The GBH* is a gorgeous piece, and its voice is so loud and clear and responsive. From A/B’ing it with my regular axe, it seems to have a very cool, vintage-y vibe, especially the G string.
Yeah, loud, vintagey, responsive, and sustain for days…!
Long Beach CA
(*Editor's note: Thomas has named his Club Jazz model the "GBH" because he had me inlay a Great Blue Heron, of his own design, on the peghead.)
“Oliver - Vanguard received, and WOW!! Every expectation exceeded!!! No time to explain further! Can’t stop playing!!! THANK YOU SO SO MUCH!!!!.....................
........ Don’t think I’ve ever had such a fantastic experience with a mandolin, especially brand new like this. Just cannot believe the tone. Every note I hit, my mind says “no way...really? I mean...No way!!”
.........I will also report that the Apitius is becoming increasingly magical every single day. I've been simply, hopelessly, enraptured. You are nothing less than a brilliant artist. My highest respect....
I did not start playing the mandolin until my late 50's and I'm early 60's now. I only wish my talents could do justice to this wonderful instrument. I have "taste tested" many great mandolins and, even though I'm not a great player, I know what I like....both in terms of tone and aesthetics. This Rosine pretty much ticks all the boxes for me...feel, tone, aesthetics...truly a wonderful work of art ........
HI Oliver...hope you are enjoying life today. Sitting here with my beautiful and wonderful sounding Apitius F5. What a great mandolin. It continues to open up and it plays so very well throughout its range. I was playing last night and came to the realization that it may be my all time favorite for soloing up the neck. Great clarity, specific and unique Apitius sweetness of tone. I woke up this morning wondering why your name/work doesn't jump up immediately when people start naming the top three builders in the world. Don't get me wrong, I know you are very well known but seriously you deserve to be in that classification of the very best in the world. I would think if folks were naming the top 10 builders in the world you would definitely make that list. From my experience you should be held in even higher regard.
Sorry for my rambling Oliver....i just keep falling in love with my Apitius F5.
Wish you and yours well throughout the season.
I just last night had the privilege of hearing Forrest O'Conner play the mandolin you built for him and I must say, on every level , it is an absolutely astounding instrument . Although I'm not a player, I felt like I should thank you as a listener for producing such incredible sounding works of art. There were 4 of us at our table and everybody remarked about how his mandolin sparkled. No telling how good it's gonna' sound as it gets played in . Forrest is certainly happy with it and was eager for me to get a close look at it . It was like holding the Mona Lisa.
I am writing to share my initial impressions of my new Apitius F5 Rosine model. I could not be happier with a new instrument. The immediate aspect that jumps out to me is "The Tone". Exceptionally warm, rich and haunting. Your mandolin has that special something that all players dream about in my humble opinion. Top shelf craftsmanship, fast, gliding play-ability. I could not put the instrument down. I love the strong fundamentals and the balance across the board. A low end that growls upon command or punches in equal measure when providing backing for others. A truly special F5.
I Love it, thanks so much!
I have had the above for about a week now and thought I should set it down long enough to tell you how much I like it!
Visually it is just beautiful. Your instagram posts show us how much painstaking work goes into the making of your mandolins. Very impressive.
It is a very different creature from my ####### ############. ........... It feels like we're having a conversation. It's a very personable instrument. It also can speak in a much louder voice than the #######.
Great dynamics, excellent clarity and sustain. One could play any kind of music on this mandolin. I am so very happy with it.
Just wanted you to know.
When I first played the Grand Classic I could not believe the sound that came out of it. I thought it was too good to be true. Each day I have been savoring the sound knowing it will only get better as the mandolin matures.
The tone is so crisp and clear. The high end is bell-like. On other mandolins I have owned, I have felt the E strings were always a little on the harsh side. Not on the Grand Classic. The high end is infinitely more smooth and pleasing than any of my other mandolins. The sustain is unmatched as well.
Your workmanship is beautiful.
Thank you for building such a fine instrument for me.
Orchard Park, NY
Superb instrument. Love it.
I received the masterpiece today (Wednesday) at 12:30 .........I let it warm up in the box for 2 hours then finally opened it.
After checking everything out, I tuned it up and jammed for an hour. It is now about 9:00 p.m. and I could not be happier.
It is one great sounding mando (and it does'nt look to bad either). Chalk up another satisfied customer Oliver. The neck is better than what I expected and you really got that honey stain to come out. it is amazing. 'cant thank you enough and I like the logo on the case. I'm going to be busy for the next few days playing this thing. if anything else just let me know. Happy trails.
Just wanted to reach out to you - I have recently purchased an Apitius Rosine (#10715) from Music Emporium.
I've only had it for few days, but have fallen deeply in love with it. Such an incredible instrument. I'm so happy that I took the leap of faith and purchased it. It has a deep, rich voice that really speaks to me and I haven't been able to put it down - it's truly a work of art.
I am really enjoying my new mandolin. The sound simply blows me away. It sounds very similar to Dave Benedict’s video. The difference between the Apitius and my other mandolin is that while the ###### may be just a hair louder, the Apitius is way ahead on midrange clarity. It’s hard for me to describe, but the midrange is more bell like, instead of being muddy. That was what impressed me the most about Dave Benedict’s video, and this one has it in spades. And of course this is while it’s still brand spanking new and not even settled yet. I’m sure it will improve with age. I wish I had the means to record it to give it justice. I don’t, but it sounds just as good, if not better than Dave’s. But I can definitely say I’m a happy guy.” Bob
Great sounding mandolin! Exceeded my expectations in sound and craftsmanship! It's got great resonant low tones and real 'bell'-like highs in the upper register. Thanks very much.
I have to say, I'm super impressed with your work. Right when I opened the case it just gave off the feeling of a fine, classic instrument. And it plays and sounds like a dream.
just wanted to let you know that the mandolin is amazing !!! best i have ever had, the tone is incredible and i suspect its only beginning as the instrument gets broken in, you really know how to make them !! I have two other mandolins which i will be selling in due time, yours is incomparable, thank you so much.
Hi again Oliver,
I can't say enough about the mandolin. Again, it's probably the best sounding mandolin I've played! For perspective, I've played several well-made mandolins, including ######, ##########, #####, #######,... Yours has an amazing dynamic range.
I just got word from a friend that you are building again. I'm excited for you and hope you enjoy much success--Congratulations!
The Apitius mandolin I owned almost 10 years ago remains to this day the finest mandolin I've ever played.
I have one of your Grand Classic F style mandolins at home on a trial period. I have to say I'm loving the sound. I thought I had a pretty decent mandolin but now it sounds dull and plunky after playing your instrument for a day.
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