View Full Version : Physics and Mandolin

Mar-08-2004, 3:28pm
I have only been a member of this forum for a short time, but I have been reading it for the last year. Thanks for the inspiration. #I am now in the process of building my first f5 mandolin. #

As I was reading this forum and books by Troughton and Siminoff, I realized that there was a lot of “science” going on. #As a high school physics teacher I am always looking for new ways to get my students to go beyond the cursory instruction (in this case on waves and sound) that is typical in high school physics texts. #With this in mind I wrote a grant proposal that would fund a mandolin building project by my physics students.

The good news is that my project has been accepted and I will be implementing it in the 2004/2005 school year. #This gives me several months to prepare. #I will be having students research everything from how the tonal distinctiveness of the wood will affect the sound quality of the mandolin, to string construction and finishing techniques. #My funding will allow me to purchase just the bare necessities (a few tools and some wood). #

What I would like to know from others in this forum is:

1) Does anyone have any used tools, equipment or wood (good, but maybe slightly flawed) that you might be willing to donate? #I am pretty sure that I can provide you with a tax-deduction for donated items.

2) If the students are to experiment with the sound quality of various woods, for the sake of time, I will need some type of duplicating machine. #CNC is out of the question. I’ve looked at the Marlin (Terrco), but does anyone have any experience with the Copy Carver?

3) Most importantly, as a new builder who has not even completed one instrument, I would like any advice that you can give me.

Thanks, Karl

Chris Baird
Mar-08-2004, 3:53pm
Stick with a flat top and back design. In fact you may want to look into buying kits from someone(Luthier is the handle for someone whom sells cheaps kits). I'm sure it would be possible to request different woods so that all the kits would come up with different wood characteristics. It seems to me that to get a whole class to complete a mandolin from scratch and on a limited budget is stretching what is possible. I would order a few kits and then have the students work in groups. You may also want to contact Dave Cohen as he is a physicist whom builds mandolins.

Big Joe
Mar-08-2004, 4:16pm
I'm not sure where you live, but if you can come to Nashville, we will be glad to give you a personal tour of our facility and go over any steps in building you can think of. I would encourage a carved mandolin but possibly an A model. Whatever you build, it will be quite a challenge and your team will exude pride in the finished product. If we can be of any help, just PM us and we will respond. Thank you.

Mar-08-2004, 4:21pm
Thanks Chris, That's good advice on the flattop. This would definately be a group project. I am planning on building only one mandolin per year and envision a group of 4-8 students working on one mandolin. Karl

Mar-08-2004, 4:25pm
Hi Big Joe, Thanks for the invitation. We are located in southern Wisconsin which probbably will not work for a field. I have no doubt that the kids would go for it though. Thanks for the advice on a arched "A". Karl