Don Stiernberg, renowned jazz master of the mandolin, kindly sent me this video of him and Jim Cox playing "Lullaby of the Leaves" in Don's living room.
Don is playing his Apitius "Yorkville" model mandolin.
Don also sent me two other video gems from what he termed his "casual living room sessions. You can see them on the Apitius Mandolins Vimeo Channel. Enjoy!
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 the 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.
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 the very best glue for fine musical instruments and for that reason is used on all wood to wood joints on my mandolins. It is not the easiest glue to work with but its 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. Several of my innovations regarding improved tone and volume are described in further detail here.*
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")
P.S. As part of the process of re-tooling I drew up a completely new set of blueprints for my mandolins. I have decided to make the top sheet only, available for purchase to those who would enjoy them. They are available with or without a slightly distressed look which makes them great for framing and displaying at home or office. The signed and numbered prints are printed on 24lb. Bond paper and are supplied rolled in a mailing tube. (The top sheet makes great artwork for your wall but does not include all the info needed to build a mandolin.)
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Last post January 5, 2018
Performer, composer, instructor David Benedict with his Apitius Mandolin.
Multi-instrumentalist and composer, Ashley Broder and her Apitius mandolin.
Don Stiernberg is regarded as a leading exponent of jazz mandolin style, and a respected teacher.
Multi-instrumentalist, vocalist and 14 time Grammy winner, Dan Tyminski and his Apitius mandolin.
Singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer and Canadian roots music legend, Ken Whiteley renews his 30 year endorsement of Apitius mandolins with a new "Rosine" model mandolin!
What others are saying:
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.
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
'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 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.
Superb instrument. Love it.
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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