View Full Version : My first...

Mar-24-2004, 8:22am
finally I got some digital pics of my first attempt. Made from scratch. 110% hand made, I made my own gouges, planes, jigs.... for this, only saws and hand drill were not handmade. Binding channel was also hand cut even in the headstock (PITA!).
Euro spruce (~30 grainlines per inch)
Euro Maple (El Cheapo species :-))
Curly maple binding ALL around the thing
Ebony fingerboard (scooped+ fake maple frets) and headstock weneer (LMI 2nd's)
Ebony hand made bridge
The truss-rod cover is pressed hard leather
Deer antler nut and bridge cap
Stainless steel tailpiece (I saw that design somwhere)
Oil varnish finish, french polished.

Mar-24-2004, 8:23am
One pic of the top...

Mar-24-2004, 8:23am

Mar-24-2004, 8:24am

Mar-24-2004, 8:25am

Mar-24-2004, 8:25am
A bit clearer one...

Mar-24-2004, 8:26am
Another angle...http://www.fpv.umb.sk/~minarov/07.jpg

Mar-24-2004, 8:28am
Last one... the Headstock...
There is slill empty room for ....

Mar-24-2004, 8:29am
...modified "flowerpot" logo. But I do not have source for genuine MOTS inlay material. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif

Scotti Adams
Mar-24-2004, 8:33am
..man..all Ive got to say is you are a hell of a talent. To take on such an undertaking and do everything from scratch is nothing short of greatness....the mando looks real good for the first one....Im sure people will be watching you...a great inspiration...how does she sound?

Mar-24-2004, 8:40am
Thanks Scotti,
Sounds really good. I have several good mandolins to compare. It is in the same league as my Krishot. And I played several Ferns that were IMO not better. I'll try to record something and add it here.
I have three more in the works now... I started them this month and I plan to finish them in May.

Mar-24-2004, 9:17am
Your first attempt? That's not an attempt that's a slam dunk. Wow! All I can say is job well done and congratulations.


John Zimm
Mar-24-2004, 9:37am
I agree with what the others have said-that is beautiful. Good job. I love the finish.


oldwave maker
Mar-24-2004, 10:00am
Hogo- delicious look! what varnish? sprayed burst? occasionally you can find large mots triangle picks in electric guitar stores. Still waiting for laskin to do henry j. sitting on that pot with pants around ankles counting large stacks of cash! any relation to coleman hogan?

Mar-24-2004, 10:15am
I agree with GVD - this is absolutely amazing, congratulations. I love the inlay design, that shoud have the Gibson boys talking http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif

JD Cowles
Mar-24-2004, 10:23am
wow hogo. shure looks purdy. if it sounds half as good as it looks, i'd be very interested in one of the three you have in the works right now. pm me if you are lookin to sell one of them.


Mar-24-2004, 10:30am
that is the best "first mando" I have seen yet. Very impressive!

Mar-24-2004, 10:52am
Thanks guys,
Yes it is indeed my first musical instrument. I was always good with hand tools, model making and such... Some of my mistakes are not visible on the pics (the first cannot be perfect ) #http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif .
Sunburst is airbrushed. I used diluted spirit varnish as a ground (mainly to seal the binding) and sprayed concentrated stains with spirit varnish added (the stains themselves were dark brown, mahogany brown and oak yellow but the spirit varnish in it made the color very reddish), scraped bindings and brushed couple of layers of oil varnish, sanded level and a bit of french polish (orange shellac) to bring it to shine...
I planned to use my own oil varnish, but there was not enough sun to dry it so I used a store-bought violin varnish (Hidersine) diluted with turpentine which dries a bit faster and doesn't need that much sun. The spirit was also Hidersine, it's similar to the 1704 or Behlen's violin varnish. Good varnish, but a bit sticky for french polishing.
No relation to anybody in US. I'm in Slovakia.

Mar-24-2004, 2:36pm
That is pretty! Thats the second mandolin I've seen with flamed maple binding (mine is the first I've seen!). I like wood binding, I wish more people used it. And if it sounds better than a Krishot, then I think you're on to something.

Mar-24-2004, 3:05pm
HoGo -

Great job! I also like wooden binding - yours looks great.


Skip Kelley
Mar-24-2004, 3:18pm
HoGo, What an awesome job! The maple binding is really cool. I don't have the nerve to even try that. A real first rate effort. Keep up the good work!!

Mar-24-2004, 5:03pm
I'll jump on this band wagon, that is a beautiful mandolin, I love your maple binding. So much nicer than plastic. Thank you for sharing your talent with us.

Mar-24-2004, 5:07pm
Yeah, I agree with GVD. That is not an attempt. Mine is an attempt. This forum is truly dripping with talent. Fantastic job!

Mar-24-2004, 5:22pm
I fully agree with that being one BEAUTIFUL mando and it has a perfect scroll and body lines! Amazing and I know we will all be watching your business grow. I am still speechless.

Mar-24-2004, 7:25pm
The mandolin looks beautiful. How about a picture of your handmade tools!!!!

Mar-25-2004, 7:34am
Thanks again for your response.
I didn't plan to use the wood binding, I just couldn't get any plastic binding material so I used a spare side material... It wasn't hard to do. Maybe because I read all books on bending wood available when I was a teenager. I broke only one piece of maple when bending the headstock binding (it's 1/16" thick).
peterbc, I didn't say it is better than Krishot. It is surely in the same league but it sounds a bit different. Krishot is Loarish sounding and loud. This mandolin has different archings (especially the back) and I used more symmetric tone-bar placement. result is a bit warmer sound and very quick response. And this thing is b@n10 players nightmare.
ejkauf99, I don't have a digital camera. Most of the tools look very similar to ordinary violinmakers' tools. I did cold-hammer one of the gouges out of a steel that used to be a sawmill blade and ground another from a flat burnisher that butchers use for sharpening knives. The first is OK but the second is so hard I sharpened and polished it just once- when I made it. It can cut into solid aluminium and the blade is still razor sharp. That piece was about 60-70 yrs old from my grandfathers. god knows what kind of steel it is.
I made the planes of one piece of wood. It's a 30 minutes job to chisel out the inside, sand the curved bottom and add a nail to hold the wedged blade. I molded one of epoxy but I had to use a cap of wood on the bottom because the epoxy did wear quickly. I made the blades out of ordinary kitchen knives and they are good enogh for the job.
And I made my own electric bending iron, knife for cutting binding channels and a lot of one-off items that I needed.
mandoJeremy, the body shape is my own (not an exact gibson copy). I tried to make the body as symmetric as possible and really wanted nice scroll. The f-holes are my own either and the peghead is smaller than standard (It doesn't look good with those big schaller bushings but that was all I could get). It's minimum size for the tuners. I wanted the mandolin as light as possible. And it is light as a feather.
I have some plans of this design in my computer if you are interested.

John Zimm
Mar-25-2004, 10:16am

I for one would be interested in seeing your plans for this instrument. I am really impressed with the job you did. It looks very beautiful.


Mar-25-2004, 10:33am
This version (http://www.fpv.umb.sk/~minarov/HoganF5.gif) has different archings and gibson styled f-holes. I'll try to find at home the version that I used (that version is more than a year old).

Mar-25-2004, 3:15pm
We if it's in leage with a Krishot, that's still great! I've only played two of them but both were awesome sounding. How light is your mandolin? My mando is currently the lightest F (by far!) that I've played and lighter than some A's too... it's really incredible. I have no idea how the dimensions are in relation to a loar or other mandolins, but picking it up after anything else it feels like theres nothing there.

John Zimm
Mar-25-2004, 4:07pm
Thanks HoGo. I appreciate having the chance to look at that.


Mar-25-2004, 5:03pm
I'm astounded!
How did you know what would be the effect on the tone by repositioning the tone bars, on your first mandolin??

Mar-25-2004, 6:10pm
Great job HoGo....Definatly somthing to be proud of.:)

Mar-26-2004, 5:13pm
Hey HoGo, pardon the amateur question. How do you do a wood binding on a stained instrument without staining the binding too? I'm assuming you meticulously taped off the binding before staining? Is that correct? The other wood bound mandos I've seen were blonde which wouldn't pose this problem. The fine contrast between the binding and stained wood is perfect. It's really quite impressive.

Skip Kelley
Mar-26-2004, 8:13pm
HoGo, I just have to say again after looking at your mandolin again... Simply Amazing!!!
Beautiful!!! http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif

Mar-29-2004, 5:19am
Brookside, I used diluted spirit varnish so seal the wood (consistency of about 1/2-1lb. cut) several coats lightly sanded to get as smooth surface as possible. I added some spirit varnish into the concentrated stains (2x more than standard, 5 tsp. varnish to ~3oz stain) to prevent penetrating deep into the wood. This changed the colors much to the red (the color on the pics is just about right, maybe a little more red than real thing), but it stayed right on the top of the wood. It is quite easy to damage when uncovered. It was easy to scrape it away from the bindings. I didn't use any masking tape.
peterbc, I weighed the mandolin on ordinary kitchen scales and it was below 800 grams... that's quite light as Loars are about 2lb 3oz which is about 1 kilogram or 1000 grams.
Lee957, I didn't know what effect the repositioning of the tone-bars will have... I just didn't like the idea of such very nonsymmetric placement as Loars have. Symmetry of modes of free plates are oriented either along the axis of the plate or along axis going through the scroll button but the axis of standard bracing doesn't correspond with this. That's why I placed the tone-bars symmetrically around the centerline and shifted towards the bass side to keep the bridge/tone-bars relation almost standard.

Mar-29-2004, 5:45am
OK, I have A CD with my old files here. This version (http://www.fpv.umb.sk/~minarov/F-5.zip) is the full Photoshop version of the gif I posted above. Every outline is a separate layer so they can be switched on or off. Some of the shapes are traced as "paths" which can be exported to Adobe Illustrator and from there to other vector formats for CNC work (I did this, I used CNC cut body blocks for my mandolins). There are also some arching profiles and topo lines that I used, but I widened the recurve considerably and used much lower arch on the back in the neck block area.
All the files are 150dpi (in Photoshop it is automatically detected).
The next file (http://www.fpv.umb.sk/~minarov/Scan.zip) contains original scanned hand drawings of mine. I didn't use a french-curve so the lines are not very crisp and smooth. There is also my variation on the "violin f-hole theme".
Enjoy, and thanks again.


Mar-29-2004, 6:25am
I found some construction pics. This is one of the tops that I made Last summer for a local b@ni0 maker.

Mar-29-2004, 6:26am
Another angle...

Mar-29-2004, 6:27am
Some from the "tuning" stage.

Mar-29-2004, 6:31am
The upper top and back were used on the number one. The other two top were for that guy...
And that's my Krishot next to them... (I still use the same white pick http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif )


Mar-29-2004, 6:34am
One of the backs that I made for that guy...


Mar-29-2004, 6:34am
Two backs for the b@ni0 maker... One of them drilled before roughing out the outside.

Mar-29-2004, 6:37am
Same backs, 20 minutes later...


Mar-29-2004, 7:54am
I have recorded some simple tunes. I used ordinary 2$ PC microphone and SB16 soundcard.... a lot of hiss and noise plus some mando behind it. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif #
First. (http://www.fpv.umb.sk/~minarov/01.mp3)
Second. (http://www.fpv.umb.sk/~minarov/02.mp3)
Third. (http://www.fpv.umb.sk/~minarov/03.mp3)

Chris Baird
Mar-29-2004, 10:05am
Sounds great!

Mar-29-2004, 6:41pm
Ok...Ok....i don't know whether to break your fingers or mine! That sounds excellent....very good playing and a sweet sounding mando HoGo. Nice job all the way around!

Apr-03-2004, 2:27am
The sound clips sound wonderful. The mandolin looks amazing too. One thing I wish is that I had a model to refer to when I did #1. Its one thing to look at plans and its another thing to absorb the curves and construction of an instrument in your sights. You have done perhaps the best #1 mandolin I've ever seen and heard. To say I am impressed is an understatement!

Keith Newell
Apr-03-2004, 2:42am
Im somewhat honored you chose my tailpiece to copy for your fine looking F style. I appreciate you saying that you copied it from another design. That design was 6 years if evolution on my personal player mandos and then my mandos that I have been selling plus the ones I have custom made for other makers, oh and the ones I have sold on ebay and mandolincafe. I dont want this to turn into a Gibson flower pot thing but I do see a twing of pain/hurt pride thing when you develop something and see it copied.
Keith Newell

Apr-03-2004, 7:06pm
That maple binding was a very nice touch. i've been seeing more of that 'outside the (black and white) box' thinking here lately. Let's see more.

No worries about the $2 PC mic - that #1 sounds fantastic! And the player is very good too! What kind of strings are on there?

Say Keith, I agree the tailpiece outline and strings hooks mimics your design quite closely. However, it looks like it is enamel filled with HoGo's name in there. I would say Mr. Weber should have a twinge too. But only if #1 is for sale. If #1 is for Hogo's personal pleasure, I'd say it was a very nice homage to an earlier master.

Keith Newell
Apr-03-2004, 7:18pm
I do the same thing with names just not enamel filled. I just did a dozen of them for a well known maker.

Apr-05-2004, 7:11am
Keith, I PM'd you. Sorry for using your design. I wouldn't make one if there was a chance to buy a standard in a music shop here. I didn't know whose original idea it was. I've just seen a pic of a mandolin equipped with that tailpiece.
WireBoy, the player used to be good http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif . That's myself. I stopped playing about two years ago.
crawdad, when I started designing this mandolin I only knew that scale will be 13 7/8" and looked at pics of some really nice Gilchrists and some other mandolins to absorb the best of their lines. It took me almost two years drawing and redrawing till I was satisfied with them. The building itself was just a fun as I had all the curves so deeply in my mind and hands that I was able to draw the scroll freehand.
One cannot be GREAT luthier without some drafting skills.

Apr-05-2004, 10:29am
HoGo....i've been watching this thread since it started and been a member of the Cafe for several years and i don't think i've ever seen such a positive response to a first mandolin. Its a beautiful instrument and if you ever wanted a life as a builder looks to me like you could certainly achieve it. I think most of us would like to be able to play as well as you also. I know I would. I may have missed this but did you go select the wood/tree yourself? Thanks.

Charlie Derrington
Apr-05-2004, 3:06pm
So Keith, I guess that means you are going to come up with a body design of your own? (now that you know how it feels to be copied without just compensation) http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif



John Zimm
Apr-05-2004, 3:11pm
I may have to start making popcorn now. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif


Keith Newell
Apr-05-2004, 10:42pm
Hehe Charlie! I was gonna post something about "now I know how Gibson feels" but I didnt want to cause Scotts bandwidth to shoot through the roof this month.

Apr-07-2004, 5:22am
BTW, Charlie, I never wanted a flowerpot on my mandolin, though I like that simple design. I have now too much more ideas for inlays than mandolins available for them.

Dennis, the wood was brought to me by my friend for about $10 total. He selected pieces that were of no use for viola because of knot, but it was in the upper quarter of the spruce and got cut off with waste wood. I spent a lot of time in slovakian forests and I know of some extraordinary maple trees - one of them is around 1m (3') diameter and strongly quilted but unfortunately it is in the national park and about 300m from Ukrainian and Polish borders with Slovakia. I found some nice spruces too but never had enough time to harvest them...

Apr-09-2004, 1:23pm
HoGo....thanks for the wood info. Sounds like Gibson's starting to take applications in your part of the world if you're interested! There is a saying here in the States and it is "Just say No" surely a promising builder can make alot more money on his/her own than to jump into the corporate swamp....