Located in nearby Mesa, Colo., master luthier Tom Hicks has garnered a strong reputation for building fine mandolin family instruments. This F-5 Black Top Mandolin was completed in March of 2012. It features a hand-carved Colorado Engelmann Spruce top and gorgeous Flamed Maple back, sides and neck. The result is a powerful-sounding F-style mandolin with balanced tone and articulate response. In many ways, its design pays tribute to the master model instruments of the prewar instruments, but a radiused fingerboard and medium-gauge fret wire allow for a more comfortable setup and smooth, easy playability. The black top finish is striking, and it’s a nice accent for the darker sunburst of the back and sides. Because this one has a varnish finish, the ivoroid binding has developed a beautiful patina over the past few years. The fern inlay on the peghead is meticulous and precise, and it provides the aesthetic flair a mandolin of this quality deserves. Please call (970) 728-9592 or e-mail for in-hand description.