McPherson Manhattan Skyline – Review

A museum-worthy piece of craftsmanship and design, the McPherson Manhattan Skyline is a towering achievement in the art of luthiery

Wonderful wood wrought into an ultramodern musical instrument, decked out in art deco spender

“… Playing this guitar was like knocking on the door of a spruce stable full of horsepower, chomping at the bit and so eager to sink its weight into that rich, fertile Brazilian tonewood, with its peppery, rose oil scent rising from the sound hole like freshly turned earth. The future owner of this McPherson Manhattan has my envy as the player whose personal style will most influence the training and feeding of this thoroughbred, as it comes into its own as the champion it so obviously will become. …”

MacPherson Manhattan

Read More

Collings C10 Deluxe – Review

This one of kind Collings C10 sounds like it looks – magnificent

Bringing new meaning to the claim that Collings is the Cadillac of acoustic guitars

Part of the collection of the late Stan Jay, founder of the Mandolin Brothers Dream Fulfillment Center, this 1993 guitar was inspired by Stan’s own 1955 Cadillac

“Having not looked at the tag when I first played this Collings C10 Deluxe Custom, I assumed its pale blue body was made out of maple, and that I would hear clear, prancing top notes with dry open prairie behind them. I got plenty of Collings clarity all right, but I felt plenty of power in the bridle, and I was happily surprised by the warm presence rising from under the low-mids, like the comforting waft of just-baked biscuits filling a ranch house kitchen.

The back and sides are made out of mahogany, and that provides a dollop of richness to the otherwise clear and cheerful voice of this beautiful piece of luthiery. The top is made from very good Sitka spruce, my favorite top wood for mahogany, when it comes to accentuating its strength and subtle warmth. It is especially my favorite top wood for Collings mahogany, since the clarity and definition one looks to mahogany to provide is part and parcel of the default Collings build…”

Read the Full Review With Video

Collings C10 DLX Custom cut
photo: Mandolin Brothers


Pierre Bensusan – Guitarist Spotlight

In memory of the late Stan Jay, we feature one of his all-time favorite guitarists, the fingerstyle master, Pierre Bensusan.

May those in need of solace, find peace of mind and spirit in this evocative and moving music.


Algeria was still a French colony when Pierre Bensusan was born there in 1957. At the age of 17 he signed a recording contract in France, which resulted in Près de Paris, which went on to win the Grand Prix du Disque at the Festival at Montreux. He has continued recording and performing ever since. And in 2013 he released a three-disc live album entitled Encore. And while earlier recordings and tours have included the use of various effects peddles to extend the sound of his exploratory music, he shows just how transporting his compositions can be when played on an acoustic guitar with no amplification or electronics what so ever. Here is The

His mutual admiration shared with Michael Hedges resulted in the Hedges composition Bensusan, on the record Ariel Boundaries. After Hedges died in an automobile accident, Pierre Bensusan responded So Long Michael.

Pierre Bensusan

Bensusan offical website

Official Website

More Guitarists in the Spotlight


Stan Jay of Mandolin Brothers Died Today

Stan Jay, founder of Mandolin Brothers on Staten Island, died today after a long fight with a rare form of Lymphoma. He was 71.

A long time friend of mine, and of countless lovers of fine stringed instruments, Stan was a radiant being who accurately proclaimed the focus of his life’s work as a “dream fulfillment center.” He will be missed forever.

Mandolin Brothers Stan Jay dies at 71
Stan Jay, center, staff and family

It is very sad news. Stan had recently been moved from the hospital to a nursing home and reports from the family seemed encouraging. So I had hoped for the best.

He spent his life making people very, very happy. And many of them were musicians who went out and made countless others very, very happy.

I was unaware of Stan’s life had come to an end, as I attended the gala benefit dinner for the New York Youth Symphony this evening in Manhattan.

The Jazz orchestra arm of the organization performed before and after dinner. The guitarist for this night of big band jazz was playing a Gibson with a double cutaway, a 336, but maybe a 335. Stan would have known at first sight.

As ever it was inspiring to hear such amazing music from teenagers who are yet years away from the full potential that shall be revealed in their adult careers. And it is of some comfort to know that the future of great music is in such good, capable hands, now that one who so dedicated themselves to music is no longer here to play his part and the gift of music as he had with all those grateful recipients of his time, enthusiasm, wisdom and talents.

I bought my first new guitar from Stan Jay. And the most recent guitar that I bought from a shop, a custom Martin OM,  was also sold to me by Stan.

The guitar I grew up playing was given to me by my brother. It was an Asian knock off of a Martin 000-18, won shooting pool. But at Mandolin Brothers I could walk amongst a forest of “real” guitars, and dream away entire Saturdays playing Martin, Collings, Santa Cruz, Gibson, Taylor, Gretch, Goodall, Weissenborn, D’Angelico and many more.

I remember clearly how he allowed me to haunt the shop for months, with that “someday I’ll afford one of these” look in my eyes. And one day I came in and bought a brand new Martin Custom 15, the first of many purchases from Mandolin Brothers.

“Play anything you want!” is all he would say to shy newcomers used to being scolded if they dared pick up a guitar without a shopkeeper’s permission. And if the register was slow, Stan would put on his thumb pick and play along with his customers, that squinty-eyed grin and sly chuckle accompanying every joke, pun, or clever remark, often arising from his own quick, jovial sense of humor.

I can see his Cheshire cat grin right now, as the second or third implication of some clever turn of words sends him into deeply satisfying chuckles of mirth and his eyes glitter with tears.

I went on to hone my guitar reviewing at Mandolin Brothers, where I would indeed play anything I wanted, and then would write up details of various guitars for the readers of Acoustic Guitar Magazine’s on-line forum, and eventually the Unofficial Martin Guitar forum. In later years, when I was unable to get out to Mandolin Brothers as often as I once did, I would encourage anyone shopping for guitars to get out to Stan’s, where the selection and prices are the best in New York City.

For the past dozen Augusts, Mandolin Brothers became an annual stop for pilgrims returning from Martinfest in Pennsylvania, both local residents and those heading to various airports on their way home. If they thought they had their fill of playing great guitars, or their hands too sore after marathon Martinfest jam sessions, five minutes in that dream fulfillment center brought rejuvenation and delight, and often yet another guitar purchase. Stan would always take time out to hear the latest news, share his latest joke, and play a tune or two.

I had to miss the August trip this year, so it has been some months since I had last seen Stan, at the reception for the early American guitar exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where he looked his old self. He had regained a lot of weight that had been noticeably lost during his earlier struggle with MSL.

It has been my sincere hope that it was all behind him now. It turns out it had come out of remission, and Stan lost the fight earlier today.

Stan Jay certainly did his part and more to make the world a better place and those of us who were allowed to know him will remain enriched by the privilege.

Bob Brozman 1954-2013

We are greatly saddened by the news of the untimely passing of Bob Brozman, at the age of 59.

An innovative traditionalist and with a wide scope as a musicologist, his was a unique style grounded with deep roots. He will be in many ways irreplaceable.

In the words of our good friend Stan Jay, of Mandolin Brothers:

Bob was a great person, musician and friend to the heritage of styles of the 1920s and ‘30s, and also to both the National Reso-Phonic and the Santa Cruz Guitar Companies.

He was always willing to share information and advice.

He was, in every way, a true professional.

We will greatly miss him.