2010 Ratliff R-5 “F-style” mandolin
- Body: Spruce top, maple back and sides, tone bar bracing, “Sweet Tea” sunburst finish
- Neck: Maple/Ebony
- Hardware: Allen “flowerpot” tailpiece, Ebony bridge, Pearl nut, Schaller tuners, Pierce ebony arm rest
- Electronics: Fishman M-300 Nashville series
Made by master luthier Audey Ratliff in his shop in Church Hill, TN. Audie made Adam Steffy’s first pro mandolin, and Ratliff is one of the best deals out there on a hand-carved, small shop solid wood mandolin. “Buster” was my father’s nickname, and seemed appropriate because the first week after I took possession of it I cracked the top while putting it into the case after a TV appearance in Knoxville. I called Audey from the road in a panic and he talked me down off the ledge and through the process of working some epoxy into the wound until I could get back to his shop for a proper fix. We were back on the road a couple days later and I didn’t have the time to leave it with him for a cosmetic touch up, so the battle scar is still visible. Great projection, beautiful woody “chop,” and records beautifully…every engineer I’ve ever worked with comments on this. Highly recommended.