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 Post subject: Mando from scratch
PostPosted: Sat Apr 14, 2012 11:08 pm 

Joined: Wed Nov 02, 2011 9:13 pm
Posts: 162
Wow, I get to be the first poster on this subject!

I've made two mandolins, more or less from scratch. The first was built using the Siminoff book. It was an "A" style, with a curved top and back and f-holes with tone-bar bracing. I bought the back and sides pre-molded, or maybe carved (it's hard to tell, because they weren't plywood but could have been formed under heat) from somebody on eBay. It was OK, and was my main mandolin for a long time.

I also had a Stew-Mac "Campfire" mandolin that I made some years ago. The bracing eventually gave up, resulting in a very concave soundboard, and the back had cracked early on and required a patch. However, the neck was salvageable.

So I ended up making a round-hole "A" style mandolin, using a bracing pattern I found in an Andy De Paule book called Country Instruments -- Makin' Your Own and the same mold I used for the first mandolin. On this one, I decided to go with the thinnest soundboard, back and sides that i could get away with and rely on taller bracing to keep the thing from collapsing. The plates ended up being about 2.5 mm (about 0.10") thick. The sides and back were Indian rosewood, and the top was red cedar scavenged from a friend's remodeling project.

I was quite surprised, when I finally strung it up, that the thing rang like a bell. The volume and sustain far surpassed anything I'd heard before. It almost required a different style of playing, with fewer note runs, because the notes had a habit of ringing on and stomping on subsequent notes, kinda like a wire-strung harp. But for chords and stuff, it works great. Now, six months later, the top hasn't shown any signs of imploding, but we'll see.

This is now the mandolin I use for jams. The other mandolin shares "road duties" with a heavily modified "Dakota" mandolin, which I've described elsewhere. I like them all, for their distinctive sounds.

 Post subject: Re: Mando from scratch
PostPosted: Sun Apr 15, 2012 7:45 am 

Joined: Fri Mar 03, 2006 7:09 pm
Posts: 5422
Location: Hegins, Pa
I hope more non guitar projects pop up. I have done a few mando projects. I am not as good with them as I am with the guitars but at least they sounded ok. My respects to you F5 guys , they are difficult

John Hall
Blues Creek Guitars Inc
Authorized CF Martin Repair Center
Board of Directors of Association of Stringed Instrument Artisans

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