Here my thoughts about your mandolin compared to the National and some general statements:
The Beltona has much more warmth and smoothness to the sound than the National which can be very edgy and sharp. The National is louder than your mandolin which actually is more a problem than an advantage; the Beltona is still very, very powerful if needed (more than enough indeed) but can be really sweet. That makes it much easier to control the dynamics than with the National M1 which sometimes is more a weapon than a stringed instrument. The Beltona sound is very balanced and full. Love it!
When amplified I get a very good tone on my BOSE L1 system (an awesome amplification system esp. for vocals and acoustic instruments). I didn’t have to tweak very much to dial in “my” tone. I am happy to have installed the active Fishman pickup with the battery box. I get a very good signal and no additional preamp is needed. I strongly recommend the active over the passive pickup. (BTW the price you took for the pickup is very good, much cheaper than over here).
The overall handling of the mandolin is very comfortable: the light weight and the dimension of the body – I love the fact that it is thicker than I expected, that makes it feel bigger and looks great too. In general the look of the instrument is simply awesome – the coolest little thing with strings I played so far: Surely it will be the hero of the night when we play our next gigs. I am happy to have the black version (I recommend you show the black version on your website too).
The fret size seems to be just a little smaller than the National. Since I have big hands I will have get used to that but I think it will be no problem. I will put on my favourite phosphor bronze strings soon and then I will have to see how the action reacts. On those smaller instruments I prefer a lower action for better playability. If it feels too high I will let my luthier over here make a little correction on the bisquit.
I was very pleased to get such a good case with your mandolin – I didn’t expect a case anyway; I thought I’d get a cheap bag. Did you mention that on your website? You definitely should! Thanks again for that!
The Beltona mandolin is a completely professional, killer-looking and sounding resonator mandolin that stands out among the other resonator mandolins players can get. It has all the power, projection and brilliance of a resonator instrument expected but also delivers the beautiful warmth and smoothness only the best wooden mandolins can offer. This makes it easy and simply fun to control the dynamic range and to sound the depth of the tone. From soft ballads to funky chopping to powerful and smashing chords you can get it all. This thing really rocks! The Beltona Koru mandolin can be used for any style of music. The overall appearance is extremely unique and individualistic but in the same time the shape is influenced by the classic F-type mandolins. When it comes to designing new instruments then it is exactly that which I love: New approaches, new shapes, new materials while still being rooted in the history of the instrument. Congrats Steve! This baby is a real winner and surely will be a Beltona bestseller. It will be my companion on stage and in the studio!