Phoenix Mandolins was founded by Rolfe Gerhardt who started building mandolins in the early 1970s. He was self taught and started by using some plans from Benny Cain, and observations of a local Gibson Loar F-5 to make two reproductions of a 1920s Gibson F-5 mandolin. He then began experimenting with mandolin design and this was the start of Unicorn mandolins. Rolfe made 149 mandolins before selling Unicorn to Dave Sinko in 1980 who eventually moved Unicorn to Nashville. Although Rolfe had agreed not to make mandolins for ten years as part of the sale agreement of Unicorn, he didn't last that long and was building mandolins again in the late 1980s using the Phoenix brand name. His new design had a fixed graphite-epoxy neck stiffener which eliminated the need for an adjustable truss rod. He also refined the body shape using a two-pointed cut-away design, and incorporated a radiused fingerboard and finger-rest. Rolfe retired in 2015 and sold Phoenix Mandolins to Jenny Warner (who had previously worked as a co-builder with Rolfe in 2007-2008). Warner now makes all the instruments.