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Here you’ll find stories and publications that have featured Northfield Mandolins.

Click on the separate tabs below to read the individual articles.

  • East of Kalamazoo: A Trip to Northfield Mandolins

  • Artist Series Press Release

  • Meet Zeb Snyder

  • Adam Steffey Mandolin Workshop

  • Clips & Wood

  • Emory Lester – At Dusk Interview

  • Adam Steffey - New Primitive Interview

  • The Henry Ford Museum

  • Bluegrass Unlimited

East of Kalamazoo: A Trip to Northfield Mandolins

by Eric Futran  -  Appeared in Issue 35
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Marshall, Michigan (population 7,088), the seat of Calhoun County, is in the same geographic ballpark as Tony the Tiger’s ancestral homeland, Battle Creek. It’s a very pretty small town, filled with distinctive architecture from the middle and late 19th century. The main street, however, is an excellent example of early 21st century mid-American tourist destination economy. Stores include The Rice Creek Emporium, Tracy’s Primitives and Antiques, The Main Street Beanery, and Just Bead It: Jewelry and Bead Supply.

It’s an unlikely setting for the home of a global manufacturing enterprise, but right there, at 130 W. Michigan (next door to the office of Dr. David Heidenreich, D.D.S.), stands the “corporate” headquarters of Northfield Mandolins, makers and purveyors of world-class eight-stringed treasures.

Northfield is the dream come true for local boy Adrian Bagale and his brother, Peter. The Bagales grew up in a musical family. Their musician father had an instrument jones and collected a wide variety of toys. He was also a tinkerer and built early versions of drum machines and synthesizers.

But while the father loved the music and the digital tinkering, Adrian was primarily “crazy about the acoustic gear.” And so, after college in 1996, he made his way to the nerve center of the central Michigan fretboard world, Elderly Instruments. He was soon assigned to the high-end room, where,  among other things, he got to demonstrate a $165,000 Martin D-45.

His job title was Vintage Acoustic Instrument Specialist and, from this exalted perch, he was given access to the as-is pile of instruments. He bought a 1960s Martin and a 1917 Gibson A-style mandolin at fire sale prices and took them home to restore.

“And when I had completely screwed up the job,” Adrian says, “I would bring it back to one of the senior technicians and try to find out what I had done wrong.” It was a rare chance to find out what makes fine old instruments tick … or not.
adrian at desk

In 2002, his worldview changed significantly when he became a Global Liaison for Saga Musical Instruments and began commuting to Japan, Korea and China from his home in San Francisco. The constant travel meant that he was never seeing his daughter, along with other complications. So he decided to move the family to China, where he set up a manufacturing facility in Qingdao for Saga.

Within a few years, Adrian had gone from working in the rarefied air of Elderly’s high-end room to running a manufacturing operation that turned out an export container full of Kentucky brand mandolins at a time. And he realized that it wasn’t the occupation he was looking for.

With the assistance of his new partner, Kosuke Kyomori, a Japanese national working as a production manager in China, Adrian began a mission to create high-quality mandolins in small numbers for a worldwide market. He realized that he had retained quite a bit of knowledge from his old job. “When you’re looking at 1,100 mandolins a month, you learn how to put a mandolin together,” he says.

To earn money while he and Kosuke set up their workshop and started the process of creating the Northfield product, Adrian took a job at a travel-accessory company. “We wanted to make the mandolin we wanted to make.”

It took them almost two years. Along the way, dozens of failed instruments ended up as firewood in the Chinese winter.
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Because he couldn’t find the wood he wanted overseas, Adrian moved back hometo Michigan in 2008. He now takes frequent buying trips to Maine, Quebec and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Kosuke remains in charge of the workshop in Qingdao.

Hence, the establishment of a Sino-Yankee-Nipponese multinational enterprise, headquartered right across the street from the Marshall Antique Center.

In addition to Northfield’s Master models, which are created in China with Western Hemisphere hardwoods, the company has introduced the ‘S’ series instrument, which is itself manufactured in Marshall. The model, an A-style with blond wood and very clean design, retails in the $2,000 range.
The building that houses Northfield Mandolin is the antithesis of 21st century suburban corporate architecture. Texture is everywhere. The place was built in 1874 and contains an embarrassment of lead glass and chandeliers. The walls are formed out of red clay bricks, and Northfield’s products hang on them, basking in the ever-changing light coming off Michigan Avenue.

Because this is a company that deals in beautiful woods, fine grain presence is everywhere. Two elegant benches carved from slabs of curly maple enhance the space. On the far wall, a selection of hardwood samples awaits perusal by Master series buyers. Many Northfield customers make the trip to Marshall to pick out the piece of wood they want for their instrument.
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The atmosphere is reminiscent of the HBO series Silicon Valley, in that every individual is doing something different, with a sense of disorderly order. Kjell Croce is refurbishing an instrument that has been played hard by a member of Lindsay Lou and the Flatbellies. Several inches of naked wood south of the strings show evidence of a bluegrass life lived full-bore.

Derek Smith carefully finishes an S series instrument in the small varnishing space. Later, he will begin packing today’s mandolins for shipping.

Peter peruses the selection of music videos he has made of notable Northfield customers. We watch Adam Steffey blaze his way through several selections.

In an upstairs office, Adrian is hard at work creating a custom inlay that will grace an upcoming purchase. “The customer wants a D’Angelico feel to the lettering, and I’m trying to work with that,” he says. I can’t help comparing the task of rendering one custom inlay by hand with loading 1,100 mandolins into an export container.

A cache of high-end guitars in their cases sits in the middle of the large, single storefront room. When I ask about their presence, here in the Temple of Mandolinia, Adrian tells me, “A fellow owed me some money and gave me these guitars instead.” Judging from the quality of these instruments, it must have been serious bread. Work stops as the associates gather at the leather couch that doubles as conversational ground zero for the place. People sit on the leather sofa or on the maple table. They are joined by Joe Konkoly, an old friend from Elderly. Guitars are strummed; talk revs up.

Varnishing, refurbishing, designing: It all comes to a halt as the Martins start to resonate.  I look around the room. It’s the middle of the morning and not a time clock in sight.

Northfield mandolins are played by a host of great players such as Mike Marshall, Adam Steffey, Emory Lester and many others. This year they begin delivering their new Artist Series and plan for the release of two new guitar-bodied octave mandolins. Check their website for tons of pictures, videos and information about the full range of their instruments. 

The full article text and exclusive photographs are available in the print edition of The Fretboard Journal.

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Compelling music is often a finely tuned collaboration of extraordinary talent. Believing the craft of making great instruments is no different, Northfield Mandolins and Mike Marshall are pleased to announce a new partnership.

Marshall, routinely named one of the top five mandolin players in the world, will partner with Adrian Bagale and Kosuke Kyomori of Northfield in a quest to create a series of instruments that exceed expectations.

“When Mike to came to us with the idea to work together we jumped at the chance. I mean, we just had to go for it. We kicked around a lot of ideas and both agreed that a true artist collaboration on the development side instead of a basic product endorsement would be a lot more meaningful,” said Adrian Bagale, founder of Northfield Instruments. “It’s one thing for a great player to put their name on an instrument but we think it says far more when they are deeply involved in every part of its creation.”

Marshall, a fixture in New Acoustic music since the early 1980s, brings his experience and insight to the process, and will push the talented group at Northfield to craft unique instruments that suit a range of styles.

“This isn’t a one-and-done kind of thing for me,” noted Marshall. “I see it as an ongoing process and a chance to really explore the boundaries of what makes a great mandolin. There is no such thing as a “perfect” model so we’ll continue to work to produce a number of instruments that offer the qualities different performers are seeking.”

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Meet Zeb Snyder
April 2014
There's nothing better than getting commissioned to make an instrument for an inspiring artist. It is, as they say, why we do what we do. Last year we got the chance to work with a seriously talented young player named Zeb Snyder. We met him through our friend Adam Steffey after they had just finished the tracking of Adam's most recent album New Primitive. Zeb played guitar on the album and was featured on several of our favorite cuts. When we heard he also played mandolin... well, we jumped at the chance to work together and build a mandolin for him. We delivered his instrument during the IBMA show in Raleigh, NC. For the last few months we've been working on an interview with him and are happy to share it with all of you now.

First, a little about Zeb. Now 18, Zeb started playing guitar at 7 years old. He took to it fast, as most prodigious students do, and by the time he was 10 he was already playing various gigs around the southeast. At 11 (2007) he won the top prize, a Wayne Henderson acoustic guitar, at the Jimmy Edmonds Homecoming Competition in Galax,VA. In 2011 he was voted the guitar champion at Renofest in Hartsville, South Carolina and at the Old Fiddlers Convention in Galax, VA. He's been featured in several articles and magazines, including the 2012 March/April issue of Flatpicking Guitar Magazine, and even in a documentary entitled Generation Bluegrass about young bluegrass players emerging on the scene. Last year, he made the album with Adam Steffey and got to the second round for the IBMA Guitar Player of the Year. And all the while.... he's been playing and developing on the mandolin!

Here's our interview with Zeb along with some video clips recorded on the day he picked the mandolin up from our hotel room in Raleigh. We hope you enjoy it.

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Adam Steffey Mandolin Workshop
February 15th 2014

On Saturday, February 15th, we had the opportunity to do something special: offer a live broadcast through our website. To try out this new tech we teamed up with mandolin great Adam Steffey and The Cooper's Glen Music Festival and streamed a mandolin workshop straight onto the web. To make things even more interesting, we did it all from Kalamazoo just a few blocks from the legendary workshop that brought us the Gibson mandolins of the 1920's. Now that's the old world meeting the new... What a time to be making mandolins!
We also recorded Adam's workshop in HD and are pleased to offer it now for those who didn't have the chance to watch the stream.. Or for junkies like us that can't get enough of watching Adam talk shop.

We hope you enjoy!

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Hi again everyone,

The IBMA has always been an important conference for our small company. We first released our mandolins to the public in 2009 and each year since then we've gone back to the IBMA with a variety of instruments for people to try out. We're very privileged to have so many fine mandolinists record and perform with our mandolins and so the annual conference is also a time for us to reconnect with friends and get their opinions on the most recent batch and new things we're working on.

This year we brought a few examples of a new model we have been developing. We kept them up in our hotel room at the Sheraton and turned the space into a mobile recording studio and invited players over to check them out. The group included, Emory Lester, Nick Keen, Zeb Snyder (who was picking up his new axe), Josh Williams, Adam Steffey, Martino Coppo and a host of others. Adam and Martino, two of the greatest guys on earth, came over and hung out for several hours--pickin', laughin' and contemplatin' with us. What could be better than that?

Here are a few tracks from that afternoon. Hope you enjoy.
All the best,

Note: Mandolins were recored with 2 OctavaMod MJE-v250 mics, run through Logic EQ'd completely flat. We added a little verb to overcome to deadness of the hotel room.

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Emory Lester and-his-NF-81 NFBigMon115Emory Lester – At Dusk Interview

By Northfield Mandolins
August 2013
In 2010 we were fortunate enough to meet Emory Lester at the IBMA conference in Nashville, TN and we’ve been friends ever since. To our ears, Emory’s playing brings out the very best in the mandolin – a perfect combination of flourishing tone and agile fingers, with a sense of adventure and compositions that can’t be assigned to any specific genre. It’s mandolin music. His career has taken him all over the world and last year even landed him a spot on late night television with Steve Martin and Mark Johnson. Decades into it and he’s busier than ever gracing the stage at hundreds of performances a year, teaching at camps and recording projects with multiple artists. In June, Emory released his fourth solo album “At Dusk” a fantastic collection of material that accentuates both the power and finesse in his truly original voice. We recently got together to catch up and talk about the new album and his plans for the months ahead.

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Adam Steffey - New Primitive Interview

By Mandolin Cafe
June 18, 2013 - 7:30 am

adam-steffey mcNever pass up a chance to see Adam Steffey in person, on stage, or to share a few moments chatting with him if the opportunity ever presents itself. For here, dear reader, is a bluegrass mandolin legend in his prime. Snap a photo, get an autograph. Lucky enough to have taken a Skype lesson from him? I hope so.
If you're a musician, being in the presence of this man is truly uplifting. To say he's as curious and crazy about his music and mandolins as anyone can imagine is really an understatement. More than 20 years after his creation of one of the recognizable and iconic bluegrass mandolin breaks ever recorded on Alison Krauss' Every Time You Say Goodbye, he's still searching for new sounds, new music and new musicians with which to express himself.
When we heard he was recording a project combining his mandolin with a wide variety of the best old-time musicians we knew listeners were in for a rare treat. We wanted to know more about what was behind the project and had a blast preparing this interview. And the music? Well, the results speak for themselves as you're about to find out.
 — Scott Tichenor
      Mandolin Cafe

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The Henry Ford Museum

The Henry Ford recently asked me to participate in.....

Click here for the pdf of the feature.

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Bluegrass Unlimited

Bluegrass Unlimited featured a review of he Northfield Mandolins...

Click here for the full story in a downloadable pdf.

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around the shop over  custom-build-over artists-over

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Marshall, MI 49068

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(877) 367-7304


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