“I received the No. 3 mandolin late Thursday. I am very pleased! The build quality is terrific, and the tone is coming along just fine- I played it for a couple of hours and the tone improves as it is played- typical of well- carved instruments. I appreciate the "old-time" feel of the instrument with the flat fret-board, etc. Thanks very much.”
Chris L. in Vermont Build No.3
"I got the mandolin on Friday afternoon and unboxed it right away. Its absolutely stunning. I have been playing it non stop ever since. The ease of playability is superb, action is smooth and I love the neck shape... The tone is bright, clear and responsive. I can only imagine how it will continue to open up and begin to develop its own voice. All the woods you have chosen are top of the line. From the Red Spruce top to the highly flamed eastern maple back and sides. Fingerboard also has a great feel to it. Binding looks excellent as well, top and back. "
Kevin W. in California Build No.6
I've had the opportunity to play several Crooks Mandolins and so I thought that I would give him a challenge and ask him to build an F4 for me. John certainly rose to the task and I could not be happier with the mandolin. It is exactly as I described for him. It is a truly beautiful instrument and the tone is just what I was looking for in an F4, it rings like a bell. John has also worked on another mandolin of mine and his craftsmanship is excellent. Thanks, John
Bryan in Ohio Build No. 16
Ok John, I purposely let several months go by before I jumped in with a review of my Crooks F5 (#10). It was obvious from day one that cosmetically, its was an absolute beautiful piece of art but I really was waiting to evaluate the sound. Well, the verdict is in, it's sound is equal to its cosmetic beauty!
Starting with the build and build quality. When I first unboxed the mandolin, I didn't know whether to play it or just stare at it! Its easily the best looking mandolin I have ever seen, from the master grade top,back and sides to the James and Cumberland Acoustic parts to the EVO frets, there IS NOT a better built mandolin being built today and I'm including the popular mandolins of today costing 3 to 4 times as much such as E$$is and Co$$ings. To have this Mandolin built by one of today's popular builders would easily cost over $10K ! You even got the setup I requested just about right on the money. A quarter turn on the bridge wheel on the treble side and it was perfect! I love the fact that this is a HAND MADE instrument that has hundreds of hours into it's build, not like a lot of today's high volume manufacturers who CNC EVERYTHING. One of your earlier reviews mentioned the awesome neck profile....I couldn't agree more. I love this neck profile, and you got my custom requested nut width spot on !
The sound is beautifully balanced and LOUD. One of my favorite features of the sound is it doesn't wash out no matter how hard you drive it. You can play this F5 HARD and it stays clear,focused,balanced and LOUD! My #10 F5 has a very 3 dimensional sound quality to it which I can't speak highly enough about. Sound keeps getting better and better as it opens up...
I can't thank you enough for this incredible instrument!
Rick in Maryland Build No. 10
...my mandolin is opening up nicely and sounds great. The tone changes weekly. Thank you so much. I love it!
Dave in WV Build No. 18
John, Thanks again, I could not be happier with my purchase. Excellent workmanship and wood selection.Beautiful finish and fret work. Rings like a bell and loud projection, a Banjo killer for sure.
Dana H. in PA Build No. 9
I purchased Crooks Build Number 19, late October, 2020. As a multi-instrumentalist on the road and in
the studio, I work with many local songwriters and performers, ranging stylistically from country to rock.
Number 19 has become an indispensable part of my arsenal and is used hard and often.
Build quality and craftsmanship is impeccable. Wood selection, fit, and finish are on par with any
I love how Crooks lets the wood grain show through with a thin, amber finish. The neck
is comfortably beefy with a slight radius. Out of the box, intonation is spot-on with no tweaking
necessary, evident of Crooks’ quality control and set-up.
But the best and most important thing is, Number 19 is a blast to play. It has all the classic
characteristics one expects of a traditional F-style mandolin: sustain, balanced tonal range,
responsiveness, and rich-harmonic content. You won’t find that in a “Made in China” mandolin.
Regarding cost, Crooks mandolins are priced well below Gibson or other boutique, high-end, F-style
mandolins, making them an affordable and sane option for working musicians.
From my perspective, John Crooks produces mandolins that you don’t want to put down and that won’t
break the bank. For that, I say “Many thanks” to John on behalf of us “blue-collar” musicians out there.
Kevin Dudley Build No. 19