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Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Another one

I should confess at this point that while working on my mandolin I made a second one (or should that be a first one?). I had bought the fretwire from StewMac and a really nice ebony fretboard and I was worried that I would make a hash of installing the frets, so some practice was called for. I got the idea for the solid body mandola from a company called Risa, and the cheap pickup arrangement (£1) from Dennis Havlena's page. The body is oak (an old drawer front) as is the fretboard. the bridge is beech and the tuning machines are half a cheap mandolin set (£9). The strings are the 1st 3rd 4th & 5th from a classical guitar. It all worked out quite nicely, and I'm quite proud of the finished instrument. Pic & maybe soundfile (ha- I can't play yet) later.

the fretboard - with brass inlay dots (pieces of an old brass screw!

The pickup hidden under the bridge

solid body mandola

Some photos

So here are some photos of progress on acoustic No 1. so far. I am currently working on the neck, so the dates on this post are about current.

the neck starts to take shape

the fret board - slotted with mother of pearl dots

starting on the neck - cutting the truss rod slot

gluing the back to the ribs

My home-made wood bending iron. I made this from a length of scaffolding pole stuffed with wire mesh, a blowtorch and some scraps of wood. The wood for bending gets soaked for 15 minutes, and then is bent over the hot (it sizzles) pipe. After a bit of practice (and a couple of breaks when going too fast) it turned out to be easier that I thought it would.

the back with the tone bars glued in place

ready to mark out the ribs (side)

finished belly

gluing on the tone bars

close up of the back

the back

Monday, September 27, 2004

Making a start on the belly - spruce wood ready to plane to thickness and join.

Sunday, September 26, 2004


I have decided not to worry that the starting materials, the raw ingredients for my obsession, are going to cost more that the finished article could be sold for. That line of thinking is for business-minded individuals only, and when it comes to my mandolin such rules cannot apply. However...for the record, here is my current inventory (I've still got more to add later..):

Mould Base, free, a kind gift from Pete Lemon
Quadrant, about £2 from B & Q and from

Touchstone Tonewoods
Spruce wood for the belly, £8.95
Ebony veneer 600 x 100 x 2mm for the peghead, £6.
Lining wood, willow£4.00
Ebony binding: 4 off 800 x 5 x 2mm £5.60
Ebony fingerboard £5.95
Back & ribs wood (european maple) cost £22

Craft Supplies
Neck wood Sycamore 76mm x 76mm x 610mm, £7.15

Saturday, September 25, 2004 Books: The Mandolin Manual: The Art, Craft and Science of the Mandolin and Mandola

Jumping about in time is going to happen, I'm just going to have to live with it. I ended up buying the following book (fantastic): Books: The Mandolin Manual: The Art, Craft and Science of the Mandolin and Mandola: "The Mandolin Manual: The Art, Craft and Science of the Mandolin and Mandola
John Troughton " Order Date: 17 Jul 2003

I tried to get one called Contructing a Bluegrass Mandolin by Roger Siminoff but Amazon cancelled my order.

So the fates ended up deciding what sort of mandolin I would make (of which more anon or maybe previously)

The mould

Opening Thoughts

I've been trying to remember when my mandolin obsession began. Perhaps around the Spring of 2003. And I been wondering where this obsession came from? Up to that point I didn't even know what a mandolin sounded like. It is true that I have wide musical tastes, so I have probably listened to one at sometime or another. Maybe in a Vivaldi concerto, or perhaps in the 'O Brother where art thou?' soundtrack. I have even wondered if it just that the word which rolls off the tongue so nicely. Anyhow, I made the decision to make one. A proper, decent, well-made one. And I will assemble my thoughts here as the project progresses...