MONTELEONE BUILT HIS FIRST MANDOLIN, an F-5 copy, in 1974. Always an individualist, John felt uncomfortable trying to duplicate the classic Gibson and in 1977 made a conscious attempt to redesign the F-5, in an effort to improve its playability and sound quality. The result was a new model with an elongated, completely hollow scroll and re-contoured cutaway point, which Monteleone called the “Grand Artist.” Shortly thereafter, David Grisman visited John and was so impressed with the prototype Grand Artist (#12) that he ordered one. David had been struggling with tendinitis in his left hand and asked John to make an arched fingerboard to help increase playing comfort. This feature is now included on all Monteleone mandolins. This example (#25) is the one David ordered in 1978 and may be heard on many recordings. It was the prototype for the Kentucky “Dawg” models built in the 1980s. Monteleone mandolins, mandolas and mandocellos are used by the Modern Mandolin Quartet, Don Stiernberg, Paul Glasse and many other contemporary mandolinists.
(from Tone Poems II CD booklet , used by permission)
Photography by Brent Hauseman