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Although many fans of electric-guitar god Jimmy Page only know the mandolin as the high-pitched, plucky sounding background instrument in Led Zeppelin’s “The Battle of Evermore,” the mandolin was largely responsible for the spread of the guitar in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and was itself a major musical phenomenon.

The craze began in the 1880s, when a group of Spanish musicians took Boston and New York by storm playing...

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Neapolitan mandolins feature prominently in European classical music and traditional music.There is usually one or more sound holes in the soundboard, either round, oval, or shaped like a calligraphic In 1787 Luigi Bassi played the role of Don Giovanni in Mozart's opera, serenading a woman with a mandolin.This used to be the common picture of the mandolin, an obscure instrument of romance in the hands of a Spanish nobleman.For a while, Flatiron mandolins were available as special/custom orders, but by the early 2000s, the Flatiron brand was retired except for a brief run of Chinese-built instruments in the late 2000s.Head luthier Bruce Weber at Flatiron remained in Bozeman, MT and formed Sound To Earth that builds mandolins under the Weber name when production shifted to Nashville.

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