Since its introduction in 2009, Northfield's "Big Mon" F-style mandolin has gained wide popularity among professionals and enthusiasts alike.
In addition to upgraded appointments, materials and hardware, the Big Mon features a slightly larger body than Northfield's standard NF-F5S, which gives the Big Mon a subtle (but noticeable) increase in bass, volume, and sustain.
Northfield's Big Mon is built by the same team responsible for their popular "S" Series mandolins. Each instrument is made using select North American tone woods seasoned and matched in Marshall, MI. The assembly is performed by a small group of four crafstman in Northfield's Qingdao workshop, and the final setup and inspection take place back in Michigan.
Big Mon Appointments and Upgrades
Big Mon body size
Highly figured flame maple back and sides
Premium grade spruce top (available in Adirondack or Engelmann)
Varnish/lacquer hybrid finish
Violin varnish neck
James tailpiece with Northfield logo
Grained ivoroid bound top, back, neck, and headstock
Decorative headstock inlay
Big Mon Body Size
The "Big Mon" body size was developed by Northfield with the goal of creating a mandolin that offered a bit more midrange and bass response than the standard F-style design.
The proportions of a Big Mon mandolin are larger all around, but not by much. At its widest point, a Big Mon mandolin is about 5mm wider than their regular F-style body. It's a small difference, and many people don't notice until they see a Big Mon side-by-side with a standard mandolin.
Regarding tone, we feel Big Mon mandolins offer up a bit more of everything that we already love about the Northfield tone. More bass and projection, more complexity, and more of that gutsy, throaty quality that Northfield fans love.
Varnish/Lacquer Hybrid Finish
In 2016, Northfield switched the Big Mon's finish from all-varnish to a special varnish/lacquer hybrid. This combination finish retains the tonal benefits and appearance of varnish while offering improved durability and protection.
This hybrid finish has a deep luster and is a bit mory shiny than what Northfield uses on their "S" Series mandolins. It has a beautiful vintage sheen that isn't as glassy and mirror-like as the finish found on other high end brands.
We feel Northfield mandolins have a warm, open, throaty tone that really captures the "broken-in" sound of older Gibsons we've played throughout the years (including a handful of Loars).
The Northfield tone strikes a nice balance between power and sweetness, making them equally capable in a bluegrass jam or a solo session on the couch.
The qualities of a standard Northfield mandolin are enhanced by the Big Mon body size, which is only found on Northfield's higher end Big Mon and Artist Series mandolins.
Northfields don't just look and sound great--they play like a dream. The compound radius neck, large frets, and a killer factory set up give Northfields a buttery smooth feel straight out of the box.
Most players love the way they play right from the factory, but we're always happy to adjust the action to meet your needs.
Englemann spruce is relatively light and soft compared to Sitka or Adirondack. It tends to be warm, sweet, smooth, and generally less "harsh" than other common top woods.
Engelmann typically isn't as powerful or treble-heavy as Adirondack, the other top wood commonly found on Northfield mandolins. Englemann also tends to have less "headroom," meaning that it loses a bit of clarity and definition during hard playing.
The rich, full tonal qualities of Englemann make it an ideal choice for those seeking warmth and complexity over volume and power. Many soloists and players with a lighter touch are fond of Engelmann because it offers a full tone and balanced response without the need for heavy picking.
Northfield's Engelmann spruce is sourced in Colorado.
Northfield mandolins come with their Modern setup by default. Features of the Modern setup include:
Neck has a slightly more pronounced V shape, which many players prefer for faster contemporary play styles
Wider frets with a taller crown give the instrument a feel that's more in line with other modern acoustic instruments
A compound radius fingerboard (5.7" to 7.7") increases comfort and helps reduce fatigue
The fingerboard extension is shortened and scooped, making it easier to avoid hitting the fretboard during play
Most players love Northfield's factory setup, but we're always happy to adjust the action to suit your tastes.
Northfield offers a "Vintage" setup by request, which has a fuller neck profile, full-length fingerboard extensions, flat fingerboard, and narrow frets.
The Airloom mandolin case is designed and made by Northfield. TheAirloom has a contemporary look while remaining inside the traditional realm, taking leads from the styling found on the most famous oblong cases ever made. A sleek form factor makes them ideal for travel.
The exterior is a tough multi-ply fiberglass shell. The interior has perfectly fitted foam blocks that provide a nice "give" without being too squishy. A velvety lining provides protection for your mandolin's finish.
Cases are made in small batches and are available exclusively through Northfield.