If you've been watching the "mandolins in progress" thread, you know that Joe Mendel has been building a mandocello for me. I'm happy to say that my wife and I went to Missouri last week to pick up the mandocello, and it is better than I ever imagined. We met Joe Mendel and his wife Mary at the River Ridge Winery in Commerce, MO to have lunch and pick up the 'cello. Joe was also nice enough to bring by some of his octave mandolins that he just finished, and I got to sample them as well. If you are unfamiliar with Joe's work, he is building some amazing instruments. His octaves, as well as the mandocello, are flat top (induced arch) instruments, and they feature elevated fingerboards, which I think is a good feature. You can check out his instruments HERE. The Black Walnut that is for sale on his site is an extremely cool instrument that I very much wanted to take home.
Now on to the mandocello. The Mandocello has an Adirondack spruce top, and maple back and sides. The scale is 27" which is longer than the traditional 'cellos--this was done to avoid the tension problems associated with the low C string on most mandocellos. The 27" scale is surprisingly easy to play on. Don't get me wrong, it is a stretch, but 25" is also a stretch, and for me there is no discernible difference between 25" and 27".
One of the coolest features of this instrument is its floating tailpiece which Joe made. It is easy to coax harmonics out of this instrument and I think the floating tailpiece may help that. The bridge is a one-piece Henry style. The top bracing is reinforced with carbon fiber to better handle the enormous string tension of the mandocello.
I tried to put together a short youtube clip of the mandocello, but you'll have to forgive my dubious editing skills.