The new Balsam Range recording “Trains I Missed” exclusively features my JBovier, A-style mandolin. I have used it on other recordings since getting it about 18 months ago but this is the first time I have used it on an entire project. It just sounded amazing. I have a wonderful F-style Gibson that I’ve used in most of my recording and live performances but the JBovier was the one in the studio this time…I loved the tone and the way the chop and rhythm recorded. It was really clean with few overtones.
The Gibson is a beast; great tone but very loud. Sometimes it’s so loud and rings so much that it’s a challenge to record because of the overtones, but the JBovier was perfect. The leads were crystal clear as well. In fact, the entire band was blown away with how well it recorded and sounded! Van Atkins is a wonderful recording engineer and he records a lot of what I do as well as Balsam Range (he works for Crossroads/Mountain Home, our record label). Van was happier than I’ve ever seen him about the mandolin sounds we got. We were all pleasantly surprised.
Here’s a little history about this A-style mandolin…
Jeff Cowherd had a JBovier Instrument booth at SPBGMA in Nashville a few years ago and he and I spoke at length about designing this particular mandolin. I told him exactly what I wanted in a mandolin and he had it built for me. He now has them mass produced and sells this particular model, A5-X The Darren Nicholson Model. It’s a unique looking and sounding instrument. The A-5X has a satin finish, black top, and has a sunburst back and sides. Of course, it has x-bracing (from the name), but also features a slight radius on the ebony fingerboard. In addition, I use a James tailpiece, guitar fret wire, and an L.R. Baggs pickup system. I exclusively use GHS strings. In my opinion, they are the best mandolin strings around.
I hope you enjoy hearing it on the new recording as much as I did playing it! What a cool experience to see and hear one of my own ideas come to life like the launch of this new mandolin. The JBovier A-5X… Check it out!