View Full Version : My First F5

Sep-14-2005, 5:32pm
About thirty some years ago, I built my first carved solid body electric four course twelve string, and fooled around with others, but realized I'd never be happy till I built an F5. I wanted something nice, but the ones that look like injection molded glass just aren't my style, even though they are really neat looking. I decided I wanted something just bordering on "rustic". I also didn't want a heavy sunburst, and being one that always has to be a bit different, put a couple of tweaks in it to make it "mine" The changes from "normal" are obvious, and likely a lot of the purists won't like them, but so be it. I'm still not sure I'm sold on the pickguard.

The one thing I AM sure about is the sound it puts out. Never in a million years would I have expected something so close to what I wanted, and it really is a long ways from being broken in yet.

Anyhow, here's my first F5 effort.




Sep-14-2005, 5:42pm
Ron, that is stunning - #1 or #1,000! Very nice inlay, and I like the color. I don't like dark bursts that hide the wood too much either. The pickguard is a creative idea - not sure if I'm sold on it either, but it definitely doesn't suck (if you know what I mean). http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif

Excellent job!

Chris Baird
Sep-14-2005, 5:43pm
Nice Job! Now you can be happy. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif

Sep-14-2005, 5:47pm
Wow Ron, that is most excellent. I stared at the pickguard also and decided I liked it. Close eyeballing shows that you reaaly put a lot of work into it.

Sep-14-2005, 6:38pm
I appreciate the compliments!! The sun was so bright I think it confused the camera a bit. That yellow on the soundboard is actually a lot closer to the color in the center of the backboard, and the backboard is actually just a slight tweak darker, towards a mahogony than the pictures show. I've got more of a traditional pickguard cut out and ready to put the pins on if I decide I'm not gonna go with this one..

Had a ball building it. I'm about half way through a freestyle "A" mandola out of walnut with an aromatic cedar (Virginia Juniper) soundboard on it. That stuff is brittle, so I'm not gonna hold my breath till I get it strung up. I'd give even odds the soundboard will explode when I string it up. Sure does look interesting as of now though. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/tounge.gif All that cedar chest twisty grain and red, yellow a washed purple colors makes ya seasick looking at it. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif


Sep-14-2005, 7:58pm
Any chance of a closeup of the pickguard. That looks wicked cool. Is that an effect of the light or is ther a peak off of the scroll part of the pick-guard?

Beautiful job.

Sep-14-2005, 8:05pm
Very nice! Incredibly well crafted. I am envious of your talent!

Stephanie Reiser
Sep-14-2005, 8:08pm
Ron, Very nice work! Did you mention that it is your first? My goodness! Great inlay, and I love that truss rod cover. I am not a pickguard fan, but yours is 'innovative' in design. Congratulations for taking a step away from the norm in that regard, and congrats on a fine instrument.

Sep-14-2005, 8:17pm
Wow! I love the color, front and back.

Sep-14-2005, 9:39pm

I tried to mimic the points of the body in minature on the pickguard, and the scroll is the same shape as the volute on the body as well, just upside down and smaller. Then, I figured since the body scroll sticks out and up from the rest of the body, I'd make the one on the guard go down and in so it kind of spirals down towards the soundboard, so I fired up the hairdryer, and when the little scroll got soft, I just pushed it down about a quarter of an inch till it cooled off. If I keep it on there, I may reheat it and push it down just a bit farther than it is now.


I messed around trying to find a truss cover that I liked, and nothing caught my eye until that black pearl. I think it blends in pretty well without being overbearing.

Hmmmm... With all those jigs and fixtures I've got laying around now, it would be a shame to let them go to waste. Just maybe one more? http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif


Lane Pryce
Sep-15-2005, 11:20am
Very nice work.I'll bet you're proud as a new daddy!!! Lp

Sep-15-2005, 11:50am
Stunning, Ron.
I have mixed feelings about the curliques on the pickguard, personally, but it's clear what you were trying to do, and kudos to you for breaking out of the mold!
It's beautiful.

Sep-15-2005, 2:01pm
Over the past year, I have looked at hundreds, if not thousands of different mandolins. Spending hours looking at the efforts of builders, and seeing some of the most beautiful mandos in existance. The examples posted on this website alone are mind boggling.

One thing disturbing I have noticed is that so much time and effort goes into them, and in a few cases, a pickguard is put on, seemingly as an afterthought, and instead of complimenting the hard work put into the instrument, they distract by not complimenting it at all. Some have curves that go totally against the rest of the lines, or hang out over the edges and in generel, just don't look right on it. Like trying to drive a square peg in a round hole.

I know, in a lot of cases, on an assembly line mando, it's hard to justify dropping $150 on a piece of plastic smaller than your hand, and also that if it is a manufactured one, there isn't a lot of choices available most of the time. What you get ends up looking like someone mounted an 8 foot wide set of horns off a big old Texas Longhorn Bull on a 57 Corvette Stingray, or a red Rustoleum roller painted door on a car with an opalescent pearl paintjob. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/tounge.gif

Coincidentally, in some folks eyes, I may have inadvertantly done the same thing here by straying so far from the norm..



Sep-15-2005, 2:35pm
I get it. And I've seen that too... and it's clear that your effort was to make the pickguard part of the aesthetic/design of the instrument, not just an after thought.

I find that I personally find the scrolls on F mandos lovely, but the many added echoes of the scrolls to be ....kind of over the top. For me. I tend not to care for the curly headstock designs, which aside from the look of them tends to make the mando neck-heavy.

So for me, while I appreciate what you're trying to do to integrate the pickguard into the design, it's too much. but someone who really grooves on all the curls might like it very much.

I guess it's kind of like putting whipped cream and a cherry on top of a sundae. Some would say it's part of what makes it a sundae. Others scoop it off to get at the main event.
Personal preference is all.

I give you props for beautiful work, though, no doubt.

Sep-15-2005, 3:25pm
Can we get a picture of the mando directly from the front? I would like to see that pickguard a little better. I think it is very interesting and pretty sweet. Is the scroll of the pickguard actually carved? That is very cool. Lots of imagination went into this mando. And like you said, you made slight changes here and there to make it not so traditional. Great job, but lets get some more pics please!

Sep-15-2005, 4:25pm
I'm having an interface problem with my camera and computer, and need to get a fix downloaded from Microsoft. As soon as I can link the camera and the PC, I'll post something.


Sep-15-2005, 4:29pm
I find that I personally find the scrolls on F mandos lovely, but the many added echoes of the scrolls to be ....kind of over the top.
That's my concern as well, although I think I'm getting used to it I guess.


Sep-15-2005, 5:31pm
AARRRGGGHHHHHH!!!!!!!! Brand new camera and can't get it's program to work, so I'm having to come in through the back door to get images. Whatever. Here's a more or less straight on shot. As you can see, I just cut a semi-circle on the scroll saw, filed the edges at an angle and bent the scroll straight down a bit towards the soundboard..

BTW... the soundboard color is much more accurate in this shot than the outdoors shot.


Sep-15-2005, 5:37pm
Ron-- now that I see the straight on shot, I notice the nice detail work on the fingerboard extension. Obviously those teeny frets are decorative, not functional, but it's an interesting tough... very imaginative, as others have said.

Sep-15-2005, 6:03pm
http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif The very bottom one is the same length as it's width. I had to use tweezers to set the last couple in place when I drove drove them in. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/tounge.gif

Eccentric? Who? Me? http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/laugh.gif


Stephanie Reiser
Sep-15-2005, 8:10pm
Ron, the last several frets sure look nice.
What did you bind the body with?

Sep-15-2005, 11:09pm
The face is w/b/w Ivroid, and the neck and back are just white ivroid. I was going to use w/b/w front and back and when I got ready to do it, I realized I had put too severe of an angle on the inner angle of the scroll on the backboard to be sure of getting a good match on the very point, so I just went with white rather than to cobble it too bad. I thought long and hard about that, but decided you can only see one side at a time. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/laugh.gif

Ah well, perfection takes a while, and ain't no sense in claiming I just "planned it that way"

I just got some supplies in yesterday, so now I have an Ivroid end pin to put in it. Which brings out the tightwad in me.... Did you know that an old drillbit chucked in a drill and set at an angle to the face of a table sander can make you a pretty good end pin reamer, and is about $60 cheaper? http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif

The codicile is that when using such a critter, the angle of the twist will cause it to pull itself severely into the body if extreme care isn't taken when using it.

That would mean the next song you needed to learn on the mando would be "The Eve of Destruction" ....or maybe "My Bucket's Got A Hole In It" http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/mad.gif


Sep-16-2005, 11:15am
Well, I'm a philistine - I don't like F styling at all - but your pickguard pulls it together and gives the design some much needed balance (to my, perhaps twisted, eye) http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif

Sep-17-2005, 12:30am
Wow, that looks very good. I really like the colors. Would you mind saying what you used to finish it?

Sep-17-2005, 12:53am
Sure! I used Feibings leather dye with good old 190 Proof Everclear Grain Alcohol as a carrier. I started with a overall coat of Buckskin, and then mixed, blended, and whatever with differents combinations of the buckskin and red and brown. Then, Sherman Williams Clear gloss Lacquer.. dont remember the exact one, but can check if you want. After about three coats, I started scuffing it with 0000 steel wool after every application of a couple coats during a session. after about a dozen or so coats, I worked it over pretty good with more of the 0000 wool and a little work with some 1200 wet or dry (wet), and then a session with some automotive #7 rubbing compound I had from a few years back that still looked good. I spoze I could spend a bunch of time polishing it, but Then I'd just obscess about scratching it, so I likely will leave it like it is instead of trying to make a mirror out of it. I guess you could call it a nice smooth low gloss as it stands. I mixed all of it pretty dilute so I could control the buildup and not go overboard, since I hadn't done it before like that, and just went over it several times building color very slowly.

And then the best part, I finished off the Everclear mixed with Pepsi over a couple of nights. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/tounge.gif


Sep-17-2005, 2:28pm
That is totaly kickAss! I realy like that pickguard. I wish I had thought of that. You did an excelent job!