Sumi Mandolins

Desert Rose Musical Instruments is the International Sales Agent for Sumi mandolins and acoustic guitars.

Eiichi Sumi has a long and very illustrious carrier in the building of fine acoustic instruments. He is most well known as the master builder responsible for the great KENTUCKY brand David Grisman signature DAWG model mandolins. Sumi built them all, a total of about 48 instruments. He is also responsible for the Kentucky KM 1500 model mandolins built until 1993, as well as a limited number of the KM 1000 models.

In 1993 Sumi began building instruments under his own name. He took the experiences gathered from years building for others and combined them with his own ideas to produce what many musicians, including some very famous professionals, consider as some of the very best mandolins and acoustic guitars being made today.

Sumi builds all his instruments by hand with no automated computer machinery. Many of the most difficult operations are done strictly by hand using precision crafted hand tools of his own design.

His mandolins are expertly crafted following closely the designs of the LOAR era master models. The body, head, neck, scroll and most importantly the critical bracing and thickness dimensions are taken directly from original instruments from 1922 to 1924.

The top wood used is exclusive and proprietary to his mandolins. He uses a very rare and difficult to acquire RED SPRUCE from the northern island of Hokaido Japan. Unlike modern American builders who are now using American red spruce from trees barely sixty years old and just big enough to occasionally get mandolin top plates from them, Sumi buys full logs up to three feet or more in diameter and over twelve feet long. The trees yielding this amazing tone wood are well over three hundred years old and more. This old and very stable wood out performs its American cousin in tone and power every time.

Each mandolin goes through numerous stages of voicing during its building. Each top and back are carefully graduated. The tops are braced using the same red spruce as the top plate and voiced again. The top is glued to the side assembly and the unit is voiced once more. The back is voiced and after the whole mandolin is assembled, it goes thru one more final voicing adjustment prior to the application of the nitrocellulose lacquer finish.

The scrolls are shaped one hundred percent by hand using precision shaped chisels hand made by Sumi elf specifically for the job.

Finishes are nitrocellulos lacquer sprayed by Sumi and the coloring is a hand applied and shaded rendition of the famous old fives from the early 1920's.

World class musicians such as bluegrass legend Roland White, Andy Owens, Ry Cooder and Nashville stage and studio musician James Pennebaker play instruments hand crafted by Sumi.

For a mandolin that REALLY does capture the rich tone and amazing power of the Loar era instruments from the first note picked, Sumi's instruments are in a class by themselves.


Sumi mandolins and guitars are always available on a limited basis and a wait of about 6 months can sometimes be expected when placing an order, although we strive to keep one or two in stock for immediate delivery at the distributor.

Sumi mandolins and acoustic guitars are available thru the following sources.

The United States
Blue Ridge Pickin' Parlor, Granada Hills, California www.pickin
First Quality Music, Louisville, Kentucky
Turtle Hill Banjo Company, Bryantown, Maryland
International Sales Agent
, Matsumoto, Japan
All inquiries about the availability of Sumi instruments outside of Japan should be directed to us. As well, any questions aimed directly for Sumi san should be sent here. We look forward to hearing from you regarding your needs.

International dealers are welcome to inquire about wholesale pricing on all models.

Please refer to the STORE for pricing on all Sumi models.

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