Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 25 of 39

Thread: Mandolin Kits

  1. #1
    Registered User Mando Tristan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Marietta, GA
    Posts
    116

    Question Mandolin Kits

    I've been looking at various mandolin kits and thought about getting one, but there are several to choose from. There is one here:http://www.grizzly.com/catalog/2012/Main/415 and then there are the ones available from Stewmac and International Violin. Any opinions on which would be best? Also, should I do an A or F style, I've done projects like this before.
    -Tristan

    EDIT:
    International Violin Kit: http://www.internationalviolin.com/i...x?ItemCode=MK1
    Stewmac F Style: http://www.stewmac.com/shop/Kits/Man...dolin_Kit.html
    Stewmac A Style: http://www.stewmac.com/shop/Kits/Man...dolin_Kit.html
    Last edited by Mando Tristan; Jan-22-2012 at 5:15pm.

  2. #2
    Robert Fear Folkmusician.com's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Reno, NV
    Posts
    2,094

    Default Re: Mandolin Kits

    I believe the Grizzly version is laminated.
    Robert Fear
    http://www.folkmusician.com
    1-800-493-4922

    "Education is when you read the fine print; experience is what you get when you don't.
    " - Pete Seeger

  3. #3

    Default Re: Mandolin Kits

    Roger Siminoff's kits are supposed to be top notch, comparable with the ones from StewMac plus I believe he will customize one for you with your choice of woods.
    Bill Snyder
    Vintage Tools, etc

  4. #4
    Registered User Mando Tristan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Marietta, GA
    Posts
    116

    Default Re: Mandolin Kits

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Snyder View Post
    Roger Siminoff's kits are supposed to be top notch, comparable with the ones from StewMac plus I believe he will customize one for you with your choice of woods.
    His kits do look nice! But they are the most expensive. I think I like those the best of all the kits I've seen, plus they are customizable with different woods (http://www.siminoff.net/pages/simino...9.options.html) and come in different levels of completion. I have now caught a new kind of MAS, DIY-MAS. His customizing options do beg the question, which wood is best for a great mandolin?

  5. #5
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Conneaut Lake, PA
    Posts
    1,959

    Default Re: Mandolin Kits

    I've done projects like this before.
    What do you mean exactly? You've built mandolins before? Musical instruments before? Coffee tables? Not to be smart but the answer is going to depend on your level of experience. For bang for the buck, the IV kits are impossible to beat (the A f-hole is Saga, the rest are sourced especially for them). But they have no instructions! You have to buy a guidebook like the Siminoff, and even then there are those who will tell you not to follow it exactly. Fortunately, if you search "IV kit" on the forum you will find a boatload of suggestions from folks who have had great success building with that kit. Of course the parts are imported, and the included hardware really needs to be swapped out, increasing the cost. The Stew Mac kits come with pretty good instructions but they suggest buying the instructional DVD to go along with it which is even more detailed. The components of that kit are made in USA and come with no hardware, leaving those choices up to the builder.

    As to wood choice, the conventional wisdom is that spruce top/maple back and sides is the best combination. That being said, many other combinations have been tried, such as cedar or redwood for the top or mahogany, rosewood, walnut, or birch for the back and sides. All have been used successfully. Again, you can search posts on the forum for those wood type key words to find a lot of opinions on how they affect tone.
    Don

    Weber Bitterroot A
    Breedlove FO
    Kentucky KM-600
    Martin Backpacker
    http://www.orgsites.com/pa/pic-a-longs

  6. #6
    Registered User Mando Tristan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Marietta, GA
    Posts
    116

    Default Re: Mandolin Kits

    I have built a striking engine from a kit along with many woodworking projects, and built a working calliope. I think I will look into a Siminoff or a Stewmac kit since they have gotten good reviews and have good quality. Start with the classic wood combo and maybe try new woods as time goes on. Maybe even become a luthier and try other more exotic woods since there is a specialty lumber shop near me, woods like birds eye maple and purple heart.
    I guess I'll have to start saving some money so I can afford to nurse my case of MAS.

  7. #7
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Posts
    970

    Default Re: Mandolin Kits

    The Grizzly kit appears to be laminated top as it does not mention "solid top" (never seen one forgetting to advertise their solid top).
    The IV kit is the best choice for the money as it has solid wood all around. I plan to buy this kit next.
    I am about to complete my SMF01 kit (F style mandolin, laminated), the Grizzly kit seems to be as simple as thsi SMF01 kit as well from the photo (but I am not 100% sure) as there are no details.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Mandolin Kits

    The Stewmac and Siminoff kits both contain materials of the highest quality. The Stewmac does not offer options, for instance if you want a radiused board, you either have to buy the kit as is with it's flat board plus purchase an additional radiused board, or else buy the kit by assembling the separate pieces in your order to make it up, which loses the discounting of the kit parts. The top and back still require serious and careful graduation to proper specs., and along with binding the scroll, are the most demanding aspects of the kit. The pre-cut dovetail in the assembled rim set and neck heel is critical to providing the precise neck angle that results. Binding the peghead and back is entirely optional.

    Siminoff will sell you a kit in just about any stage of construction and will graduate tops and backs in your choice of material.
    But Amsterdam was always good for grieving
    And London never fails to leave me blue
    Paris never was my kinda town
    So I walked around with the Ft. Worth Blues

  9. #9
    Registered User Mando Tristan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Marietta, GA
    Posts
    116

    Default Re: Mandolin Kits

    Sounds like Siminoff is the best available, time to save more money. Has anyone here done any of his mandolin kits?

  10. #10

    Default Re: Mandolin Kits

    I have never used the Siminoff kit, and would assume it to be of excellent quality. I just checked the options and comparing the #1 Sim F5 mandolin kit to the Stewmac F5 mandolin kit price-wise is not as straight forward as it would seem. The Stewmac kit has a stock German (European) spruce top, which on the Sim is an additional $46.00 option over the Sim's standard Sitka spruce top. The Stewmac has a stock pre-assembled rim set, which is an additional $200.00 option on the Sim (and includes the installation of the top soundboard) I had no problem using the Stewmac pre-assembled rim set. The Stewmac has stock pre-drilled tuner holes, which is an additional $15.00 option on the Sim. The Stewmac has a stock highly accurate pre-cut neck and body-block dovetail, an additional $29.00 charge on the Sim. The Sim seems to include the top and back graduating whereas the Stewmac still needs to have this done to it. You must shape and install the peghead veneer and install the trussrod on the Stewmac, whereas this is already done on the Sim. If you add all these options and remove the construction manual book from the Sim, it totals out at $839.65 for the Siminoff versus $556.00 for the Stewmac. The Sim might still be the better purchase for you, but you should make the choice based on the options and the degrees of completion rather than just on the price, as they differ quite a bit. Neither kit contains tuners, bridge or tailpiece, these are all purchased separately.
    But Amsterdam was always good for grieving
    And London never fails to leave me blue
    Paris never was my kinda town
    So I walked around with the Ft. Worth Blues

  11. #11
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Gilbertsville. New York
    Posts
    1,842

    Default Re: Mandolin Kits

    Were you a novice woodworker i would recommend the International violin kit because it allows you to get an understanding of construction without making big mistakes. These kits are great for the novice but you are well beyond that level. Or actually get this kit and put one together as a process of understanding how they work. And then build one from scratch. You can put one of these kits together in just a few days. (Probably less with your experience)

    However with your woodworking knowledge you should be able to make your own using Siminoffs "Constructing a Bluegrass Mandolin" book and plans and save yourself a few hundred $. The book is very useful no matter what kit or plans you use. The book used to come as a package with the International Violin kit. but I think it is now sold separately. It undoubtedly comes with the Siminoff kit.
    Bart McNeil

  12. #12
    Mandopicks Dick Hutchings's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Location
    RI
    Posts
    469

    Default Re: Mandolin Kits

    If you have enough woodworking chops, buy the Siminoff book and build from scratch. All the shaping and bending is where the fun and satisfaction comes from. I've built three from his book so far. I use what I want out of it but I'm pretty sure if I followed it exactly, I'd still end up with a good mandolin.
    Just my opinion.
    Richard Hutchings

  13. #13
    Registered User Mando Tristan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Marietta, GA
    Posts
    116

    Default Re: Mandolin Kits

    Ok, thanks for all the advice guys! I think I will get the IV kit with the book to start. Then I can move on to making my own mandos, I have a nice stack of maple boards sitting the basement. Now I just need to order the IV kit and get started.
    -Tristan

  14. #14
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    California Central Coast
    Posts
    307

    Default Re: Mandolin Kits

    Quote Originally Posted by Mando Tristan View Post
    Sounds like Siminoff is the best available, time to save more money. Has anyone here done any of his mandolin kits?
    I've been working on a Siminoff F5 kit for a while. Check out my blog (see below). Roger gives you excellent building support by email (or phone).
    Ralph
    1984 Flatiron A5Jr; Collings MT; Built an F-style kit
    HogTimeMusic.com // Songs on Soundclick.com // Hog Time Radio on Live365.com
    "What's Time to a Hog?"

  15. #15
    Registered User Mando Tristan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Marietta, GA
    Posts
    116

    Default Re: Mandolin Kits

    Quote Originally Posted by HogTime View Post
    I've been working on a Siminoff F5 kit for a while. Check out my blog (see below). Roger gives you excellent building support by email (or phone).
    Thanks, your blog is really informational for anyone who wants to do one of these kits. Sounds like a Siminoff kit would be a really good option, especially if you need help, he is available to help people on a specific level with his kits and the forum here is just an all around good resource for doing anything with a mandolin.

  16. #16
    Registered User Tommando's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Sharpsburg, GA
    Posts
    585

    Default Re: Mandolin Kits

    I think kits are a great way to start. But there is a misconception that they are like airplane model kits, where everything you need is in the box and cut to fit precisely - just glue it up, paint it, put on the decals and you're done. Not so. You may get closest to this with Siminoff and fairly close with StewMac, plus getting the help you need from them to get it the way you want it. I did a Saga and an IV kit a while back, and both required serious carpentry skills to fix problems they came with. It was great experience, but required a lot of time and patience. With perseverance they resulted in great mandolins.

  17. #17
    Master of mediocrity Barry Wilson's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Surrey, BC, Canada
    Posts
    980

    Default Re: Mandolin Kits

    I ordered the kit from Don Kawalek. Should be here any day. it comes with all the hardware and crap. I figured I saved on shipping that way too. I haven't seen the kit yet but reviews sounded good.

  18. #18

    Default Re: Mandolin Kits

    Quote Originally Posted by Tommando View Post
    I think kits are a great way to start. But there is a misconception that they are like airplane model kits, where everything you need is in the box and cut to fit precisely - just glue it up, paint it, put on the decals and you're done. Not so. You may get closest to this with Siminoff and fairly close with StewMac, plus getting the help you need from them to get it the way you want it. I did a Saga and an IV kit a while back, and both required serious carpentry skills to fix problems they came with. It was great experience, but required a lot of time and patience. With perseverance they resulted in great mandolins.
    I built one of the kits from IV about 7 years ago and I thought it was pretty easy, but I had already scratch built a mandolin. As for the Siminoff and StewMac kits it is my understanding they both have more work to do on them than the IV kit.
    Bill Snyder
    Vintage Tools, etc

  19. #19
    two t's and one hyphen fatt-dad's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Location
    Richmond, Virginia
    Posts
    5,805

    Default Re: Mandolin Kits

    I'm very happy with the way my IV kit (a-model) turned out. If I were to build another kit though, I think I'd do the Stew-Mac kit next.

    f-d
    ˇpapá gordo ain’t no madre flaca!

    '20 A3, '25 A, '30 L-1, '84 1N, '97 914, 2012 Cohen A5, 2012 Muth A5

  20. #20
    Registered User Mando Tristan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Marietta, GA
    Posts
    116

    Default Re: Mandolin Kits

    Looks like the IV kit is already pre assembled in some places. Looks like the soundboard, rim, and lining are already together. The Stew-Mac and the Siminoff kits are carved, but not assembled at all. From a learning perspective, the Siminoff kit looks like the best. He offers support, his kits come with his book, there are more options and stages of completion available, and he makes everything to order the way you want. Now if I could afford the money to get one of his kits, it looks like it could be around $750 with the kit, an assembly fixture (1 time buy thank goodness), and the tuners.

  21. #21
    Registered User Matt the Mead Maker's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Forest Grove, OR
    Posts
    144

    Default Re: Mandolin Kits

    You'll have to do shaping and thicknessing (if that's a word) on the top and back plates with the stew Mac kits. Not to mention carving the scroll, shaping and fitting the neck, etc. I built a stew Mac kit as my first build and it turned out stellar. Easily keeps up with mandos in the $2000 price range but the satisfaction and sentimental value are over the top. It was a ton of work/fun.

    Thankfully, I have a luthier friend who helped me with some of the trickier parts such as setting the neck.
    32° AASR

  22. #22
    two t's and one hyphen fatt-dad's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Location
    Richmond, Virginia
    Posts
    5,805

    Default Re: Mandolin Kits

    Here's the link to the stew-mac a5 kit:

    http://www.stewmac.com/shop/Kits/Man...etails#details

    it says the sides are bent and the tail block and neck block are in place. I think that would be a great starting point!

    f-d
    ˇpapá gordo ain’t no madre flaca!

    '20 A3, '25 A, '30 L-1, '84 1N, '97 914, 2012 Cohen A5, 2012 Muth A5

  23. #23
    Registered User Mando Tristan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Marietta, GA
    Posts
    116

    Default Re: Mandolin Kits

    From reading other threads, it sounds like the StewMac SFM-01 is laminated, not solid wood. I think I will go with Siminoff, whether the actual kit or just the book I'm not sure yet. I'm leaning towards the kit since I'd get a feel for building the mandolin and then I'd have the book so I could build my own. I think I'll save my money and get it as a summer project. He says people have told him it took about 8-10 weeks to complete in their spare time, plus there is not much else to do here in the south in the summertime.

  24. #24

    Default Re: Mandolin Kits

    I can't imagine what you read that would indicate that the StewMac kit is laminated. The SFM-01 kit is not from Stewart MacDonald. It is one of THESE cheap kits from ebay.
    Bill Snyder
    Vintage Tools, etc

  25. #25
    Registered User Mando Tristan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Marietta, GA
    Posts
    116

    Default Re: Mandolin Kits

    Oops! My bad. There was another older thread here that was talking about both and confused me. So everyone just disregard the first scentence of my previous post. For whatever reason I can't edit it.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •