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Thread: Scaling down Archtop Guitar Plans

  1. #1
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    Default Scaling down Archtop Guitar Plans

    Hi there folks,

    I've been lurking around here for quite some time now and my feeble attempts at using the search have left me with a few questions in regards to building an Archtop Octave Mandolin with a guitar body.

    From what I could find there are no plans out there that I can use and no strict publications that are specific to GOMs. So I guess my question are these:

    If someone with no background in instrument making were to get the archtop book by Bob Benedetto, Graham McDonald's bouzouki book, and a set of Benedetto's archtop plans do you think it would be feasible for them to scale down the archtop plans to an octave mandolin size correctly and work out how to build one?

    - Casey

  2. #2
    Mandogenerator Mike Black's Avatar
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    Default Re: Scaling down Archtop Guitar Plans

    Casey,
    That's what I did for my first octave mandolins. I reduced an archtop pattern down to a 14" lower bout for my template. I think if you have those two books, especially Bob's book, you shouldn't have too much of an issue.

    Good luck, Keep us posted.

  3. #3
    Registered User pfox14's Avatar
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    Default Re: Scaling down Archtop Guitar Plans

    That's quite an undertaking. I built an octave mandolin using a standard 16" lower bout archtop body size. Came out looking like a vintage Gibson K-5 mando-cello, but I thought the dimensions of a standard vintage archtop worked well.Click image for larger version. 

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    I may be old but I'm ugly billhay4's Avatar
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    Default Re: Scaling down Archtop Guitar Plans

    I scaled down a Benedetto plan for a mando. Can't see any reason you couldn't do it for a mandocello. The cutaway is difficult to bend, but it's possible or you can eliminate it.
    Bill

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    Mandogenerator Mike Black's Avatar
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    Default Re: Scaling down Archtop Guitar Plans

    I would suggest that you shrink it down to a 14" for the octave and use a 21.5" scale length. The neck looks proportional to the body that way. And the stretch isn't too bad without sacrificing string tension.

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    Default Re: Scaling down Archtop Guitar Plans

    Thank you for the replies and input everyone. I really appreciate how approachable the cafe community is.

    I'll go ahead and take your suggestion Mike and shrink it down to those measurements.

    Glad to know someone else scaled down Benedetto's plans and I might just do what you suggest and eliminate the cutaway considering I have no experience with bending so thanks for that input Bill.

    I'll be sure to try and update my post down the road when I get started.

  7. #7
    Registered User grandcanyonminstrel's Avatar
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    Default Re: Scaling down Archtop Guitar Plans

    Lots of advice, lots of contrasting ideas and approaches, ask 10 different luthiers and you'll get 13 different responses....

    Your number one driving force should be what do I want to do with this instrument and what is the best way to get the maximum volume, tone, and playability for my end goal. Ideally you'll want to end up with a very responsive, powerful instrument that you won't want to put down rather that something that is cute and has an easy scale but sounds like an old plastic Macafferri ( no offense; I own one and like it, but I don't want to spend 300+ hours just to get that sound!)

    For me, there is no substitute for a large body and a lobg scale length, so I'm in the early stages of a 16" L5 bodied octave mandolin with about a 22.6+" scale. To figure out the body proportions and scale length, I spent about a half day and a half dozen sets of strings trying out and reconfiguring about 20 archtop guitars ( from 14" up to 19" lower bout) using different tunings and a capo to arrive at what works best for me. It took a while, but you'd be amazed at what a difference a half step shift in the scale length and tuning makes for a response- some instruments open up huge and others get choked down to nothing.

    Take the Benedetto plan to Kinkos and you'll instantly have any properly proportioned plan that you want. I use them regularly to reconfigure instrument proportions from mandolins all the way up to double basses.

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    Registered User Dobe's Avatar
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    Default Re: Scaling down Archtop Guitar Plans

    [QUOTE=DD2146;1037002]If someone with no background in instrument making were to ...... it would be feasible for them to scale down the archtop plans to an octave mandolin size correctly and work out how to build one?


    It would be quite feasable, might want to try & find someone for the occasional class if possible, maybe do a pancake kit or something first. I'm working on my second Mando taken from an arctop. The straight reduction of the picture had to be finessed a bit to look right, but not alot. This was my first one which I basically just freehanded the shape with, and brought into mando proportions (neck to tail length & tone bar placement... still, obviously had to get a roomier case.). Taken from a Pagelli archtop, a little of my own stuff for the peghead . As far as the side bending- this one has a cut rim ala Orville :


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    Default Re: Scaling down Archtop Guitar Plans

    Hi DD2146, I have scaled down the benedetto plans for two different instruments..to a 15" scale length for a 5-string mando and to a 16" body size for a smaller archtop guitar for my wife. If you know what scale length you want for and instrument, use the ratio of scales for the scaling factor. If body size is the concern use bout dimension ratio. Take the full size plans to a blueprint reproduction center and they will print the entire set of plans to your specification i.e 67% or 94%. Get 2 or 3 sets made and cut them up to make templates and patterns, then every thing is proportional and looks correct.
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