About Rigel Mandolins
Pete Langdell first engaged in mandolin building in the 1960s. Taking fundamental but astute acoustical theories, he formulated a totally radical process of attacking mandolin building. For the next two decades, he mulled, tinkered, and eventually refined this revolutionary method that would become the development of the Rigel concept in the late 1980s.
Simple in inception, but astounding in fruition, he took his machinist skills and invented a process by which a solid block of wood could be crafted and carved into a mandolin's sides, and a bottom and top skillfully attached without the need to brutally bend sides as tradition once dictated. Not only a whole new dimension of control in the end result of mandolin's sound, this allowed a less tedious, less materially stressful, and ultimately more economical approach to building. (Less time putting wood together, more time developing the individual intricacies of internal tone chamber, and aesthetically pleasing finish!)
The first full-scale prototype of the Rigel mandolin would be built in 1990. Breaking the barrier of the intensely traditional mandolin market would be a challenge for the young Langdell, as to accomplish this groundbreaking process resulted in a totally different look. Committed to build off tradition rather than replace it, he developed models that would play homage to a century of mandolin building, despite the visual difference of radiused (curved) sides and visual tamper in a unique wedge-shaped body silhouette. (The 'A' body became the 'A+', the 'G' & 'CT' series similar to the Florentine, and later the 2-point would become the 'R' series.)
The proof was in the pudding, as his indefatigable personal appearances at small festivals (and later large ones) paid off; reputable players simply could not deny the world-class playability and gutsy sound these instruments were capable of. Rigel instruments (named after the star in the Orion Constellation) turned heads and won the respect of those astute enough to give the mandolins full opportunity to demonstrate their professional viability.
In inception Langdell's clear vision was about the sound, and a better process to achieve total tone control; it was his unwavering standards and attention to detail that would demand the best instruments be complete with the finest in hand-rubbed lacquer finish, quality tuners, efficient tailpiece, comfortable and exacting fingerboard. For the plugged-in player, it was critical that the electronics be efficient and built-in from the inside out.
Working with a team of expert craftsman and talented repair technicians, Rigel Instruments expanded through the rest of the 90s, eventually outgrowing their Cambridge, Vermont facilities to a large building in 2004.
Good tone and playability are certainly a universal desire, no matter what playing style. The versatility of Rigel mandolins makes them suitable for a wide range of music, from bluegrass, jazz, country, old time, and Irish, to the more classical stringed arrangements. You'll find these amazing instruments used today in ALL these genres.
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