View Full Version : Nava Walnut Archtop

GarY Nava
May-22-2018, 9:41am
Work has started on the next archtop- this one will have American Black Walnut back & sides. The videos for, what is now “Jeremy’s Archtop” proved to be popular so I thought I’d do a second series and look at some different aspects of the build.
Here are links to the first two- for some reason I can't get the videos to show here.

Man v Wood https://youtu.be/8D4fF4EpqAU
Making the head https://youtu.be/bE23IkrNQ40

Here's the completed head
Cheers Gary

Ivan Kelsall
May-23-2018, 1:24am
Hi Gary - That is going to be utterly awesome !!. Walnut is my very favourite wood,especially Burr Walnut.

Re.not getting the YouTube clips to show here - i've had the same problem for about 2 weeks now. The attachment works,but the vids. don't show up for some reason ??,

May-23-2018, 3:49am
There is a thread about this in the general dsicussions section, it might be of help.


Ron McMillan
May-23-2018, 8:27am
These are fascinating, Gary. Thanks for sharing them.

GarY Nava
May-27-2018, 3:40am
Thanks guys, glad that you're enjoying the videos. More soon!
Cheers Gary

May-31-2018, 9:35am
Now he makes a walnut one ;)

That said number 1(15) is opening up nicely -I continue to be impressed and will try to make a recording soon.

GarY Nava
Jun-02-2018, 10:57am
Here's the back plate with outer surface carved- a video showing how I got here will be posted soon!
Cheers Gary

GarY Nava
Jun-08-2018, 10:30am
This week I completed the back plate for the next archtop mandolin. So as promised I’ve put this video together so you can see how it’s done. Again, working by hand is physically demanding but also immensely satisfying!
Cheers Gary
Here's the link-

GarY Nava
Jun-21-2018, 10:39am
Here’s the tailpiece for the walnut archtop. You’ll see that there’s a thin green line running through it; this continues a decorative theme that the mandolin will have. I like to get the tailpiece made before the back is glued on to the rim, that way I can drill a hole for the jack socket and support the end-block to eliminate any chances of splitting.
Cheers GAry

GarY Nava
Aug-04-2018, 10:15am
Here's the completed body -purflings and ebony bindings in place.
Cheers Gary

Ron McMillan
Aug-04-2018, 11:46am
I look forward to seeing that one completed, and hopefully being played on camera :)

GarY Nava
Aug-05-2018, 9:42am
I look forward to seeing that one completed, and hopefully being played on camera :)

Thanks Ron- you might have to put up with me "playing" it though!
Cheers Gary

John Kelly
Aug-05-2018, 2:04pm
Another beauty, Gary. Your instruments do you credit.

GarY Nava
Aug-07-2018, 10:10am
Another beauty, Gary. Your instruments do you credit.

Many thanks for your kind words, John.
Cheers Gary

GarY Nava
Aug-22-2018, 10:19am
Iíve always believed that the neck joint, on a fretted instrument, should be as rigid as possible. The aim of the game is to ensure that the kinetic energy, from the movement of the playerís hand, is converted as efficiently as possible into sound. Making the neck joint rigid, is one step to ensure that energy is not absorbed into the instrument itself. Iím sure there are many who will disagree with me, but those are my views.
The walnut archtopís neck has now been affixed to the body and in these two videos (parts 1 & 2) youíll see the lengths that I go to ensure the neck and body are as one (or as close to that as possible)
Part 1 https://youtu.be/rTJTW4TfjV0
Part 2 https://youtu.be/Wx7LgKrQ3dk

Cheers Gary

John Kelly
Aug-23-2018, 6:52am
Two fascinating videos, Gary. I particularly like the size of the tenon you cut - much bigger area than I am used to but I see why you are doing it and it seems to make a lot of sense. Easier to trim and adjust a bigger area (?)

Thanks for posting and keep up the great work.

GarY Nava
Aug-25-2018, 10:15am
As you can see in the photos below, the Walnut archtop mandolin is coming together nicely. The next stage is to make the bridge and get it playing in the white. Getting exciting now!
Cheers Gary

GarY Nava
Sep-02-2018, 11:01am
Here’s the latest video on the making of my walnut archtop mandolin. The construction of the instrument itself is complete and now is the time for the hardware to be fitted and to make its first sounds!
Cheers Gary


Ron McMillan
Sep-02-2018, 11:15pm
Yet another fine video and another lovely instrument. Well done Gary.

GarY Nava
Sep-09-2018, 11:02am
The last of the fettling has been done and the mandolin is playing very nicely.
Tomorrow, it gets taken apart and the polishing process begins!
Cheers Gary

GarY Nava
Oct-20-2018, 10:42am
Iíve just completed the walnut archtop mandolin and am so pleased with the outcome. Iíve got an old Gibson T-shirt that says ďTone, Feel, AppearanceĒ and Iím pleased to say that I think Iíve fully fulfilled those criteria. It is also the first time that Iíve used JJB soundboard transducers and they seem to produce an impressive tone even through my cheap and cheerful amp.
So below are number of photos for you and the full spec. Iíll sort out the obligatory video over the next couple of days!
Hand carved top and back plates
American Black Walnut back & sides
European Spruce top
Body fully bound in Ebony
13 7/8Ē (352mm) Scale length with 30mm nut width
Birdís Eye Maple neck with carbon fibre stiffeners
Compound radius Ebony fretboard with wide gold EVO frets
Nava handmade tailpiece
Nickel Gotoh MA-40 tuners
JJB Soundboard Transducers with endpin jack
A light open-pore shellac satin finish
DíAddario EJ74 strings (011, 015, 026, 040), bone nut & saddle

Cheers Gary

GarY Nava
Oct-21-2018, 2:37am
As promised, a link to the video.....


Cheers Gary

John Kelly
Oct-21-2018, 3:47am
Great work, Gary, and a very fine sound too.
I also recommend the JJB transducers - I have fitted them to 2 different instruments, my mian mandolin and octave, and am very happy with the sounds they give. Was playing the mando on Friday evening in a guitar/mandolin duo with a fiddler and through my AER amp I was getting a really good mandolin sound. JJB offers a very quick delivery service too from the US to us here in the UK. NFI I must add!

Joey Anchors
Oct-21-2018, 6:31am
Love the design and attention to detail work! Such a unique mandolin and a great sound.

Oct-21-2018, 12:31pm
That's a stunning build, Gary....and such a rich sound!

GarY Nava
Oct-23-2018, 9:28am
Many thanks for the positive comments- greatly appreciated.
Cheers Gary

Oct-24-2018, 10:16pm
Lovely to the eyes and ears.