Northfield's "Big Mon" is of course named after a famous Bill Monroe tune, and like his iconic Lloyd Loar F-5 from July of 1923 it has the black-white purfling lines next to the ivoroid binding on the sides (instead of on the top and back). But you don't have play like Monroe to get what this model is about, that becomes clear with just few chord chops and a quick run with your flat pick across, and up and down, the fretboard. It's hard to believe this is a brand new mandolin, and when those brassy-sounding new strings are broken in a bit the tone will be even more convincing.

The Northfield workshop has pulled out all the stops for this model, even to the point of giving it a hybrid varnish finish instead of the more standard nitrocellulose lacquer. Thankfully it's also not a slavish copy of Monroe's mandolin, or of any Gibson mandolin for that matter. The list of little differences goes on and on, such as the pearl dots on the fingerboard being graduated in size, and the delicate headstock inlay bears little resemblance to the classic "flower pot" inlay found on all those Gibsons. The finish has a satin sheen, and the back of the neck has the look of a carefully worn fiddle neck. In a nod to function for the contemporary player, the fingerboard extension is shortened and slightly scooped, giving your flatpick better access to that "sweet spot" just past the 20th fret where an F-hole mandolin yields the warmest, most bubbly, tone. You won't be picking in that spot when you try playing "Big Mon," but when backing vocals the singer(s) will appreciate the different tone you can achieve by picking that far away from the bridge.

Northfield is also offering the new Airloom case, and that's included with this Big Mon. Check the photos, it's a handsome addition.

stock no. 55326

ModelBig Mon, F style, Sunburst Mandolin
TopSpecial Grade Spruce
Back and sidesMaple
Frets to body14
Nut width1 3/16"
Scale length13 7/8"
Bridge materialEbony
Fretboard MaterialEbony
Neck materialMaple
Bracingtone bar
Neck profilerounded V
NotesEbony pickguard
Total frets20
TunersGotoh tuners with removable black buttons
FinishVarnish Hybrid Finish
CaseOrig. Hard
Serial NoB180122
BindingGrained ivoroid multi-ply bound body