View Full Version : Quills & Plectra

Alex Timmerman
Apr-18-2004, 5:25pm
Hello all,

I thought it would be fun to dig a bit deeper into the questions about with what, when by who and who with what plectrum played during the development of our beloved instrument the Mandolin.
So here is a little essay that probably gives some answers to this intriguing subject. It will start off by some answers on remarks and questions made by Jim and Victor and lead to a more historical essay

About quills and plectra...

The Ranieri plectrum doesn´t need to be that thick, about 1mm thickness is fine also. It´s a matter of taste and ones capability of handling it.
The best players, who use this plectrum, tend to use a rather thick one.
I found several of these examples owned by Ranieri´s students and some Embergher originals that came along with Embergher mandolins. The thick ones are indeed rather rigid except for the last 8mm or so. Towards both of it´s very points the tortoise shell becomes more flexible because of its tapering thickness.
To start with a thinner example to have a more overall flexibility is preferable and easier to get a grip of playing with it. #

The parallel Victor, which you see with the pre-WWII (and way before) bouzouki players isn´t that curious or strange at all! Just think about the long necked Saz and Oud and their long plectra made of wood, birds feathers or (ox) horns (see photo 1a + b and c).

Alex Timmerman
Apr-18-2004, 5:26pm
Oud and Saz musicians of today still prefer to hold these long plectra like their ancestors did in ancient times: the end of the long plectrum, coming from within the index- and middle finger (sometimes but les often, also middle- and ring finger), has to stick out. The point of the quill that touches the strings is held either between the thumb and the index finger or between the thumb and the middle finger. Important to observe is that the wrist of these players is always placed high and almost never held in a straight line with the arm. In this way the right-hand is held in a most relaxed manner.

When looked at frescos, decorations and paintings from before Christ to well in the Middle Ages one sees, besides long and short necked lute-alikes, Medieval Colasciones and Quinternes, that also the much smaller plucked instruments nearly always are stroked with long quills (see detail photo 2a - Juan Oliver, Pasisn de
Cristo, 1330. Photo b - Fra Angelico, Coronación de la Virgen, 1435. And photo c - Simone Martini, Musicians 1311-17).

Alex Timmerman
Apr-18-2004, 5:28pm
An other important development seen in the artistic expressions of the time is that already before the Middle Ages the preference of playing the lute and lute-alikes with a plectrum was shifting towards a finger style of playing. Both styles however were used, something that not only is known from studying frescos etc., but also because of what is written in the oldest preserved written sources like for instance in the Syntagma Musicum written by Michael Preatorius in 1619. Nevertheless it is seems that from around 1400 the gut strung and gut fretted instruments are - with the exception of the ring- and little finger - more and more played with the fingers.

Paintings again do play an important role here, and from what is learned by the ones that show musicians playing the Italian Mandolla (the direct ancestor of the gut strung Mandolino and later the earliest metal strung mandolins) it is clear that this oldest mandolin type was played mainly finger style from the very first time it was mentioned in a written Florentine source from around 1590, to exist. This playing style lasted in the north of Italy up to around 1800, while - most likely due to the fact that it had to compete with ´new´ developed metal strung mandolin types - from around 1760 in the south of Italy and in France the Mandolino was played with an oblong wooden plectrum. #

If one wants to be as near as possible to how early mandolin music sounded originally, it is of course of great importance to search for more knowledge about how the instruments in question were played and if possible to find out with what right hand technique it was played.

With regard to quills and plectra it is therefore striking to discover that with the birth of the early metal strung types the makers and players of this ´new´ mandolin type fell back on the old manner of playing with a quill. That this quill was not particular a short one becomes evident when we look at period paintings on which people playing these mandolin types and - more importantly - when looked at the engravings printed in the (French) published tutors for the Neapolitan mandolin. In the tutor by the Italian Master of the mandolin Leone de Naples (1768) for instance we find a very nice engraving of a Neapolitan style mandolin on which also two plectra can be seen; a vertical one - drawn at the right side of the instrument - and a second, more horizontal one that is put between the strings below the bridge (see photo 3).

Alex Timmerman
Apr-18-2004, 5:29pm
Unfortunately one cannot detect the absolute length of the first quill, because it is not known whether the engraving - including both quills - is made on scale.
But it is possible in my opinion to take that from the second quill and to find out more about the favoured lengths of Leone´s quill. The quill on the engraving measures exactly 2 cm while the diameter of the sound hole of the mandolin is 2.9 cm. This is exactly half the size of a round sound hole of a Neapolitan mandolin of the time.
I took the diameter of the sound hole as a fixed length because the round sound hole of Neapolitan mandolins (Vinaccias) are mostly of the same size.
The depicted second quill, looking like a pointed dip pen, therefore is about 4 cm long. In the old Mandolin tutors the material preferred to make quills was either a piece of cherry wood or the pen of a bird’s feather. #Especially mentioned are the feathers of an ostrich, a raven or a chicken.

Now that is seen that indeed for the early Roman- and Neapolitan mandolin a rather lengthy quill was used, it is important to make this outcome a better founded one. Therefore of course a second source related to the mandolin in the 18th century would be ideal. This is found in another Mandolin method published by the Frenchman Pierre Denis who italianised his name in Pietro Denis. In this method (also published in 1768) a nice and full page engraving of a male person playing the Neapolitan mandolin in a standing position is portrayed (see photo 4).

Alex Timmerman
Apr-18-2004, 5:30pm
In his right-hand he is holding a quill that with certainly is long enough to measure 4 cm. Even more I would say, especially when the two last phalanxes of the person´s index finger are compared with ones own. Also don´t forget that some extra length is needed for the point of the quill to stick out for stroking the strings. The length of the quill was probably something like 4.5 up to 5 cm.

Of importance is also the way the players shown at these images hold the quill. From the earliest survived artistic sources of plectrum playing instrumentalists up to the first engravings in published Mandolin tutors, the quill is shown as lying in between loosely held fingers. In any case the fingers are mostly lying relaxed to each other and not so much clenched to a fist.
Quite stunning it is to observe that the early 18th Century tutors with images in them of players (like in Denis, Leone and Bortolazzi) all indicate a similar way of holding the quill; lightly held between the thumb and forefinger and always with the middle- and ring-finger pointing outwards. Leone and Bortolazzi both show at the cover of their tutors a portrayed woman playing the mandolin with exactly that technique of the right hand. #

If this is compared with the 19th and 20th Century methods written by the most famous Italian mandolinists, it becomes clear that this relaxed manner of holding the plectrum was still seen as most important by all of them. They al write about it in terms like: “fingers lightly closed, not tightly; fingers should be held loosely to each other; index and middle fingers must not touch, avoid pressure on the plectrum”, etc.
Like the ancient plectrum playing musicians who are mentioned in the beginning of this article, also a somewhat high and angled wrist was favoured. The high wrist position is especially propagandised in the most comprehensive methods of the early 20th Century by among others Raffaele Calace, Carlo Munier, Giuseppe Pettine and - but less focussed on it - by Silvio Ranieri (see photo 5).

Alex Timmerman
Apr-19-2004, 1:56am
Of all these tutors it is Ranieri who is most in line with traditional plectrum use. Like the old masters Denis and Leone he preferred a long quill and it seems that he followed their- and Bortolazzi´s ideas on the right-hand position and playing style with the middle- and ring finger bent outwards.

One can of course argue that Ranieri and/or Embergher could have been unfamiliar with these old methods; but even than it is astonishing to see the similarities of holding the long quills and plectra (see photo 6).

Alex Timmerman
Apr-19-2004, 1:57am
It is interesting here that the Roman Master luthier Luigi Embergher was likely among the first who rediscovered the old method of playing with a long quill or at least one who made this style known to a larger public. I have reason to believe that a long plectrum was also favoured by another great Roman violin- and mandolin maker named Giovanni de Santis. He worked in the last quarter of the 19th century and most of his excellent Roman style mandolins predate those of Embergher. In any case, Embergher (to my knowledge) was the first who wrote about plectra making a distinction between the small and egg shaped tortoise-shell plectra used in Neaples at that time and the much longer and two pointed examples of the same material, used in Rome. Also indicating by this that there were two main plectrum types and that one of these was a small and egg shaped specimen.

Embergher´s propagated his two pointed and ca. 5.5 cm long ´Roman Style´ plectrum, to be used for all his instruments of the Mandolin family. It was however his townsman and friend Silvio Ranieri who later enlarged the design with about 1.5 cm and who showed through his concerts and teaching the great possibilities of it.
Through the images in Ranieri´s method ´l´ Art de la Mandoline´ and the many photo pictures (post cards) showing him playing his Embergher concert mandolins, it becomes clear that there is a striking resemblance of his right-hand playing technique and the right-hand position seen in the tutor engravings of the previous mentioned old masters: all showing a relaxed hand with the middle- and ring-finger pointing outwards.

Ranieri did, by showing in his method a drawing of a Neapolitan and a Roman plectrum next to each other, not put one plectrum type above the other. In fact he gave the following advise on both:
“To obtain a fine quality of tone we must choose a good plectrum or quill. The best plectrums are made of tortoise-shell and in the shapes illustrated [see photo 7]. The beginner ought to use a rather flexible plectrum which will make it easier for him to learn the tremolo. As soon as the wrist has become suppler the pupil should use a harder plectrum which produces more volume of sound”.

Please be sure that it is not my intention to say that only one plectrum and one way of playing is the best. Nor that it is my aim to draw unshakable conclusions for the use of long plectra to be the most Traditional manner.
What I do hope is to put some facts based on research as a kind of counterweight to what I often hear people assume; that a long quill/plectrum and it´s use is just a ´side line´ in the history of mandolin playing. And that is simply not the case at all: it is much more a carefully thought-out ´tool´ for which a particular playing style has been developed over centuries. #

Alex Timmerman ©

Apr-19-2004, 8:33am
Wonderful articles, Alex! I have no adequate words by which to thank you for all the light of knowledge you shed on this board.

My only, humble contribution is by seconding: [QUOTE]"the end of the long plectrum, coming from within the index- and middle finger...has to stick out. The point of the quill that touches the strings is held... between the thumb and the index finger..."

Yes, this is precisely the way folk-lute (a.k.a. laouto) players in Greece play to this day; they use a quill, folded and tied; and there is a whole mystique to the way these things are cleaned out, injected with oil, then hardened again, and the way the string holding the quill together is coiled, and the kind of bird that yields the best quills for the purpose... but, after all, this is again one of my idle digressions. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/rock.gif

Many, many thanks, Alex.

Apr-19-2004, 2:25pm
Not only are your essays stimulating, as always Alex, but the above is responsible for a new musicological slang term that is certain to enter my repertoire as a favorite: "lute-alikes."

Alex Timmerman
Apr-19-2004, 3:40pm
Thanks Victor and Eugene, it´s a real pleasure to share this with you and the others at the board!

Best greetings,


Apr-19-2004, 3:54pm
Alex, I have struggled to fashion functional plectra of goose, crow, and anonymous-large-bird quills. I can't seem to fabricate anything functional. As you may know, what I ordinarily use on brass- and gut-strung Neapolitan is a long, narrow, quill-like plectrum I have fashioned of ivoroid (a grained celluloid). Assuming you use real bird byproducts, I would be very interested in a simple series of images on turning a quill into a functional plectrum. Have you ever crafted such a series, Alex? I think this would be widely appreciated (well, widely by those few who strive to play old mandolins as though they were old).

Alex Timmerman
Apr-19-2004, 4:18pm
Hello Eugene,

Yes, if I play the Mandolino and Milanese mandolin plectrum style, I use a quill made from the wood of a cherry tree. The same material I would choose to make a quill to use on the Cremonese mandolin (if I had one. Future plan...).

The (early) Neapolitan mandolin on the other hand I play with a birds feather.

It is like with Oboe players; they only trust their home-made reeds.

If time permits this week, I will post images of how to make both types.



Apr-19-2004, 4:31pm
i've got a huge cow's horn that i bartered some of my olive oil for and i'd love to know how to make plectrum out of it.

i'm sitting comfortably...paying attention...

someone on the oudcafe site has posted photos of a very flexable, very cheap plectrum made from bamboo. #it makes a wonderful sound without a distracting "slap-slap" syncopation.

i tried goose quill once but the metal wound strings just tore it to pieces. #(i grant you, i didn't have the first idea of how to fashion it properly.)

any rate...

for those who "know" and are generous with it; here sits someone who doesn't and is very appreciative.

ciao - bill

Apr-19-2004, 5:43pm
Hi Alex,

I'm joining this thread a little late but I'll add my thanks for your excellent plectrum notes.

>> Unfortunately one cannot detect the absolute length
>> of the first quill, because it is not known whether
>> the engraving - including both quills - is made on
>> scale. But it is possible in my opinion to take that
>> from the second quill and to find out more about the
>> favoured lengths of Leone´s quill. The quill on the
>> engraving measures exactly 2 cm while the diameter
>> of the sound hole of the mandolin is 2.9 cm. This
>> is exactly half the size of a round sound hole of
>> a Neapolitan mandolin of the time.

Actually, it is more than your opinion! I don't have
the French version of Leone's method in front of me but
in the English version, the following text is printed
above the image of the mandolin:

"If the proportions of this Instrument are doubled,
you'll find the true and exact size of a Mandoline."

So, it is an exact 1/2-scale drawing. Of course, we all have to beware of Xerographic reduction and expansion from the original in our modern copies. But at least the original plates and printed versions (and presumably the Minkoff facsimile) should be reasonably accurate.

Thanks again,


Bob A
Apr-19-2004, 6:34pm
Peter Klima is the board's resident expert on animal part plectra. If he fails to chime in, he could be messaged for information on cow horn conversion.

Apr-19-2004, 8:06pm
Hi Alex,

I checked the French version of Leone's method and it too states on the drawing (in French, of course) that it is a half-scale rendition.

I've personally always liked the idea of longer (narrow) plectra. I like the idea of the plectra moving back and forth in a more symmetrical fashion... and for some this seems more natural to me with a longer plectrum.


Apr-20-2004, 6:50am
Indeed, two of my all-time favorite plectra are by our own Peter Klima, one olive-shaped, "Calace"-type, one slender, "Pettine"-type; both, however, are of deer antler, not cow's horn. I will, therefore, await Peter's contribution to this thread with much interest.

Eugene —and while this offer is worth far, far less than the one you solicit— I do have a wonderful text on folk instruments with a nice paragraph on the "metamorphosis" of bird quills into plectra for folk lutes. With the disclaimer and mutual understanding that this may not have a darn thing to do with the mandolin OR your interests in early music, would you still like me to translate and post it?

Apr-20-2004, 8:25am
i just snipped off the pointed end of a porcupine quill, flattened it out with a spoon and (surprise-surprise) it's totally useless!! as a plectrum. the basic shape is not much different than the shaft of a birds feather.

where did i go wrong?

more to the point, why am i squashing porcupine quills on the kitchen counter when i already have what i'm sure is a lifetime's supply of perfectly good nylon picks from jim dunlop?

what's making me do this?...

why am i behaving this way?...

Apr-20-2004, 8:29am
i just snipped off the pointed end of a porcupine quill, flattened it out with a spoon and (surprise-surprise) it's totally useless!! as a plectrum. #the basic shape is not much different than the shaft of a birds feather. #

where did i go wrong?

more to the point, why am i squashing porcupine quills on the kitchen counter when i already have what i'm sure is a lifetime's supply of perfectly good nylon picks from jim dunlop?

what's making me do this?...

why am i behaving this way?...

- - - -

later on - just got this from someone on the lute list:

"The historic (Chinese) plectra preserved at the Shosoin (believed to be from the T'ang dynasty) are made of (lacquered) sandalwood. The Korean Hyon Gum (Kommungo) is played with a pen like bamboo mizrab."

search engines at the ready?...

Apr-20-2004, 12:04pm
Eugene —and while this offer is worth far, far less than the one you solicit— I do have a wonderful text on folk instruments with a nice paragraph on the "metamorphosis" of bird quills into plectra for folk lutes. With the disclaimer and mutual understanding that this may not have a darn thing to do with the mandolin OR your interests in early music, would you still like me to translate and post it?
Absolutely, please, and thank you.

Apr-20-2004, 12:30pm
OK, then.

"The plectrum of the laouto is made from a feather taken from a predatory bird, usually vulture, eagle, or hawk— when necessary, turkey." Editorial comment: #http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/laugh.gif #"But the ones considered best come from vultures because they last longer, they are more flexible, and yield the sweetest sound. The ones from eagles are harder and break more easily."

"The quill of the vulture's feather has two sides: The one above is dark in color, almost black; the one below is white. After they [the laouto players] clear the feather of —native English speakers, help! What do you call the other matter on a feather, other, that is, than the quill?— they split the black from the white side with a small knife; from each of those two sides, a plectrum is made."

"Each plectrum is folded in two thus, so that, as the lutenist plays, he strikes the strings, either on the upstroke or on the downstroke, always with the smooth, "bone-like" side of the quill. The plectrum built from the white side of the quill is considered superior because it is softer, more flexible, and therefore gives the sweetest sound."

"In olden times, lutenists would use the white pick when they performed for a small audience of few, sensitive revellers, while using the black one for hard, loud playing for hours at village feasts."

"...If the lutenist is not going to use a plectrum for a while, and in order for it to remain soft and flexible, he keeps it in olive oil. He does something similar when he has many feathers and wishes to keep them soft until he can make plectra out of them: He cuts a bit off the lowest, hollow part of the quills (the one that was once connected to the skin of the bird), sinks it in olive oil, and hangs it upside-down. Little by little, the oil permeates the — again, biologists, help! The author means the matter that acts as inner lining of the quill... ornithologists... anyone?— and keeps the quill flexible."

Phoebos Anogeianakis, Greek Folk Musical Instruments, 1976. (transl. Yours Truly)

Amidst all the, ehm... folklore, I think that the priority and great importance of a flexible plectrum shines through. Make of this information what you want/can...


P.S. Off to hunt down some turkey-buzzards! #http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/wink.gif

Apr-20-2004, 1:12pm
What do you call the other matter on a feather, other, that is, than the quill?—


Little by little, the oil permeates the —

keratin? keratose matter?

...chemistry was worse.

Apr-20-2004, 1:17pm
As for the first, as in (Italian) piumelli? Dunno... As for the latter, the Greek, scientific term is enterione, the "interior [lining]"

But, I trust, the point of the article, my own linguistic shortcomings notwithstanding, does get across.

Bob A
Apr-20-2004, 4:30pm
Barbs are the things which radiate from the feather shaft. The quill is apparently that part of the feather which resides within the skin of the avifauna in question.

This from a google of "feather anatomy"; first site is a fly-fishing site with loads of drawings and taxonomy (if that is the word) of the typical feather. (Of course, there is no "typical" feather).

Since I was forced to page thru, a bit at a time, I never got to the internal anatomy of the feather shaft, but no doubt it is in there somewhere.

Why are there no ornithologists posting here? CAn it be true that mandolins are not for the birds?

Alex Timmerman
Apr-20-2004, 5:39pm
Hi Bob A,

I can´t help it... but my 85 year old father was an ornithologist by profession (and so is my eldest brother), so I grew up with birds all over the place.
As it happens to be the case it was my father who developed a plan to re-introduce the raven in the Netherlands.
During the first half of the 20th century the population of the raven in our country was completely wiped out by farmers who poisoned and killed these great birds, believing that these were damaging their crops etc.

The plan was successful and today we have a small but growing raven population again.

Why I do tell all this raven stuff?

Well the feathers of a raven have played quite an important role in music(al instruments).
Not only raven feathers were mentioned in early Mandolin tutors as material to make quills of, these were also generally seen as the best feather type to make quills from for the harpsichord. This has to do with the special structure and flexibility of the pen of the raven feather. And it´s durable quality especially needed to withstand the bronze metal (harpsichord) strings.

Like the bronze strings of the Neapolitan mandolin (and the Roman- and Genoese mandolin). And there it fits again with the preferance for feathers in early Neapolitan mandolin tutors as the plectrum material.

So wood for gut and feathers for metal.


Alex ©

I suddenly remember; somewhere in my parental home there must be a stuffed raven... #one feather # #less... # #http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif

Apr-21-2004, 7:10am
[QUOTE]"...my 85 year old father was an ornithologist by profession."

And, I might add, Alex' father was instrumental (no pun intended) in Greek fauna, as well. If I remember correctly, the Agra lake in Greece, where much of the potable water that is ultimately channeled to reservoirs serving Athens and many other cities is gathered, was all clogged up by a certain weed— absent the swans, whose primary nutrition it once was (according to the unfailing plan of great Mother Nature). You can, of course, imagine the scenario by which said swans had been driven away by rampant urbanization.

What to do? Enter Mr. Timmerman, Sr. with a plane-load of swans from the Netherlands and an ambitious plan for repopulation. I am told that descendants of those original, Dutch swans still sail gracefully across lake Agra to this day...

P.S. But no, I do NOT intend to pluck any of them, at least not, ehm... in vivo #http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif

Apr-21-2004, 8:12am
two things -

1 - thanks to the translation supplied by vkioulaphides, i split open a porcupine quill in the manner prescribed for a quill and it makes a pretty good plectrum. i haven't soaked it in olive oil yet (the piece i used was left-over from the 1st, failed experiment) but i'm sure it will perform like a birds quill.

2 - much more interesting and way bizarre. check out this item on ebay in the us: RATTLESNAKE RATTLE W/7 SEG FIDDLE VIOLIN Item number: 3718406477. this guy claims that by inserting a rattlesnake rattle inside your instrument you can increase its resonance. i'm not even remotely interested in doing this myself but i'd be extremely pleased to hear how you get on.

don't tread on me - bill

Jim Garber
Apr-21-2004, 8:36am
2 - much more interesting and way bizarre. #check out this item on ebay in the us: #RATTLESNAKE RATTLE W/7 SEG FIDDLE VIOLIN Item number: 3718406477. #this guy claims that by inserting a rattlesnake rattle inside your instrument you can increase its resonance. #i'm not even remotely interested in doing this myself but i'd be extremely pleased to hear how you get on.
That is a common practice for old time southern fiddlers. It is also supoosed to chase away those evil spirits.

Similar to that is a story I heard from a violin maker friend of mine. A well-known violinist left his prize instrument with his luthier for adjustment. He returned to pick it up took it out of the case and played some. The he looked, frowning into the soundhole and asked the luthier, 'What happened to my tone ball?"

The luthier has cleaned the viilin and had removed a ball of dust he found inside. Realizing what the violinist was referring to, he asked him to wait a moment, then went to a corner of his shop and swept up some lint and came back and "reinstalled" the tone ball.

The violinist played his instrument again and sighed with satisfaction.


Apr-21-2004, 9:05am
Belatedly chiming in on Bill's cow horn question... cow horn makes nice picks with warm mellow tone. #It's the easiest-working pick material I've ever dealt with but may warp with humidity changes, especially if thin.

If you have a whole cow horn, you want to turn it into flat pieces. #I've never done that myself, only reshaped some cow horn picks I'd acquired, but from what I recall it basically involves cutting it into pieces, soaking them thoroughly and leaving them in a warm oven between two flat metal plates with some weight on top (bricks or stones). #A few hours at 180 degrees F should do it. #If that doesn't work, try skipping the soaking step. #I'm sure you can get cow-horn-flattening instructions somewhere... maybe jewelry circles?

Once you get some flat pieces, use a wood rasp (a ####### rasp if you got one) for rough shaping. #Then use 100-grit sandpaper to get the piece perfectly flat, the shape right and the edges rounded. #Sand the edges with 150 or 180 grit and gradually work your way to 600 grit or so. #Materials like ivory will take a much higher polish, but with cow horn I don't think there's any point in going past 600. #Buff the pick with some cloth and you're done.

I've also tried making picks from porcupine quills with no luck. #Wouldn't bother trying again unless it's for gut-strung instruments.

Apr-21-2004, 9:10am
well....if it works for ol'time, southern, fiddle players it ought to work for middle aged, expat-american, charango players.

i bought one.

stay tuned...

(you know, i'm not what you would call superstitious - until i hear one like your "chase off evil spirits." my mother-in-law had me saluting magpies for the same reason. it wasn't till years later that i discovered you don't actually have to physically salute them - what agonies i used to go through if there was someone else in the car with me - a surreptitious nod of the head will do. thanks to you, 'gems, i will soon be the owner of a fine, wholesome set of rattlesnake rattles...)

Bob A
Apr-21-2004, 11:38am
There was a huge thread last year about rattlesnake rattles inside mandolins. It was a bluegrass kind o thing, and didn't feature this low on the board. Glad to see the spirit moves among all the musically inclined. (Tone balls! Hoots!)

I suspect a snake part might just clash with a former armadillo; personally I'd be very careful mixing mojo like that.

Wm S was called the Swan of Avon. We are hard pressed to develop an honorific for one who flew the swans to Agra,but the image itself is intriguing. And to think it might never have come out without discourse about ancient mandolin techniques. Such a smorgasbord of the mind we have here.

Alex Timmerman
Apr-25-2004, 5:07pm

Many thanks Victor, for the translation of the interesting Greek article on the making and preparation of quills made from bird feathers. Great also is to read about the way the olive oil is used.

Quite interesting, because of the specific mentioning of the kind of birds in it, since this shows in my opinion the connection with the raven. Often this bird is thought to be an omnivore, the raven is in fact a carrion eater and shares it´s scavening forage habit with vultures, eagles and hawks.
This is very likely the reason that the quills made of the feathers of these particular birds, are the most flexible and durable and why they are the best preferred ones above those quills made of other bird feathers.

I have been told that today if they are not made of plastic, the choise of material to make the harpsichord quills from is to use the feathers of one of the largest birds scavengers there are: the condor.
Not that these wonderful animals are hunted down and killed for their feathers, but more like people go out #and search feathers in the bird´s habitad.

We should however not be to strickt here since in the first mandolin methods - besides the raven - also ostriches and hens are mentioned.

To return to our topic and the Eugenes question of posting some images of how to make these quills we are talking about I made seven drawings in a row showing steps to go from a piece of wood to a wooden quil.


Alex ©

Alex Timmerman
Apr-25-2004, 5:47pm
More on the manufacture of the cherry wood quill in a series of photos, click here: http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif . (http://www.mandolincafe.net/cgi-bin/ikonboard.cgi?act=ST;f=6;t=14916;r=1)

Apr-26-2004, 6:34am
And, for the sake of ornithological precision, Alex is perfectly right—#he is, after all, a second-generation Birdman http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/wink.gif

The text I was translating from actually uses the Greek term arpaktiko(n) to specify which kind of birds it means: The word is broader than the English "predatory", which, to my uneducated understanding at least, means birds that hunt LIVE prey. The Greek term, on the other hand, a noun derivative of (h)arpazein and a cognate of the English/international word "harp", means "something that grabs, grasps, with claws or clutches", and is therefore inclusive of both birds of (live) prey, e.g. hawks, AND carrion-eating scavengers, e.g. vultures.

I myself have made a most impressive (well, visually at least) plectrum from the quill of a great, all-American wild turkey. Now all I need is a folk bass-lute to try it out on... http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/wink.gif

Apr-26-2004, 7:58am
while we're on the subject of wood -

why isn't olive wood used more frequently in the various applications pertaining to musical instruments? #in plectrum making, for example, it would seem to have all the suppleness that cherry wood appears to have and a soak in olive oil would be a family affair.

i've seen some egyptian ouds up for sale recently (by reputable dealers) that are made from olive wood. # why is this new and unique?

as i've got something like 300 of them, i'd be more than just a little curious to hear about their alternative uses.

- bill

Apr-26-2004, 8:06am
Olive IS in fact used, albeit in a very limited fashion: I do know that Pandini makes some wonderfully earthy pickguards for his mandolins out of a thin sheet of olive wood; Carlo Aonzo's is one example.

The application of olive oil applies to the quills, Bill, not the cherry (or other wood) picks— again, to my very limited understanding of the matter and only in reference to the article I translated.

Enjoy your olive trees! As for alternate uses: outdoor furniture, fireplace accelerant, trail-steps, landmarks, charcoal, objets d'art... http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/wink.gif

Apr-26-2004, 9:01am
Very interesting. Thanks, as always, Alex.

Tony R.
Apr-26-2004, 11:40am
[quote=Alex,April 19 2004, 17:18]The (early) Neapolitan mandolin on the other hand I play with a birds feather.

It is like with Oboe players; they only trust their home-made reeds.

If time permits this week, I will post images of how to make both types.

If you do find the time to give us clear directions on how you fashion your quills for neapolitan mandolin you would liberate this oboe player from the tedium of his reedmaking desk and spare his Vinaccia repro the current indignities it is undergoing with a plastic plectrum!

Alex Timmerman
Apr-26-2004, 11:54am
Hello Tony,

A series of photos on how to make quills out of a birds feather for playing the Neapolitan mandolin, will be published here at the end of this week.

Like with the Cherry wood quill, I´ll make a separate Topic of it.

Many greetings,


Bob A
Apr-26-2004, 7:11pm
I'm not quite sure what it is that Bill has 300 of: surely it can't be ouds. Even I haven't gone that far off the deep end.

However, I did buy my sainted grandmother a set of rosary beads made out of olive wood from the Holy Land: she was very pleased indeed. Also kitchen utensils - wooden spoons and spatulas are very attractive in olivewood. One cannot have too many wooden spoons, I find.

Of course, the best use of olive trees is olive production. A Greek friend of mine has a family grove: they take the olives to a local mill, where they get a year's supply of oil, and the press operator gets his cut as well. It is wonderful oil. Salvador Dali waxed eloquent on the subject; if he is to be believed, he practically bathed in the stuff.

Sadly, I'm unable to achieve mandolin content in this post. But I'd love a hunk of olive wood to make some plectra from.

Apr-27-2004, 1:47am
300 ouds sounds like a parable from 1001 nights.

while the idea of cutting down one of my olive trees (mine in the sense that it's me who's currently shoveling you know what under them instead of my predecessor) to give to a luthier to make an instrument does have its appeal. but the idea of cutting them down to make doo-dads and lawn furniture!!!....




bob (and anyone else interested) i come across porcupine quills occasionally and if you would like, i could send them on to you.

regards - bill

Apr-27-2004, 7:09am
Well, Bill, you wouldn't need to cut down your beloved olive-trees altogether. The usual, seasonal clippings/prunings will yield more that adequate wood for most applications discussed here. Yes, if you meant to furnish an entire patio out of ONE tree alone, of course... poor tree! But, for use in a few, choice hardwood applications, you can have your cake and eat it, too! #http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/wink.gif

Besides, you must have been busy clipping in the past month or so, right? (Not quite sure of the weather changes in Siena; I am speaking in terms that would be applicable to further south, i.e. Greece and Sicily) Or, you could wait for after the next harvest, letting the clippings dry over the next winter— sun-dry while possible, then store in good ventilation.

Apr-27-2004, 9:54am
dear vkioulaphides - if you're looking for poorly paid, low prestige, seasonal work...i think we could work something out.

Apr-27-2004, 11:31am
http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif #Well, considering what I do for a living... (bass-player in an Italian opera company in New York) Ha, ha...

First of all, Bill, please just call me Victor. Second: Yes, olive-tending is hard, backbreaking work! And, mind you, we only have THREE (i.e. not three HUNDRED) olive trees in our backyard, in a nowhere-on-the-map fishermen's village on the Corinthian gulf.

I would, however, gladly accept an invitation (with some volunteer labor quid pro quo, of course), should I ever revisit Italy, where I spent some of my happiest days, oh, some 20 years ago. Until then...

Ci vediamo.

Apr-27-2004, 1:46pm
Gentlemen, if I may chime in on the subject of olive wood. Your observation as to the back breaking nature of olive tree working, is true, Victor. I made olive oil for some years here in Liguria and while tough work, it is one of the most satisfying tasks known to man (well, this one at least).

However, the subject of olive wood and instruments has been niggling me for some time. I am new to lutherie but, after two very successful instruments, felt I was up to making a guitar for a fine friend in England. After visiting me here in the countryside my friend has a deep appreciation and liking for olive wood and asked me to make a guitar from olive.

Obviously I have searched locally and in Italy in general, but could not find any examples of recent stringed instruments made with olive wood. On the internet I did see one fine olive backed guitar made by a German luthier (whose name escapes me, but it began with an ‘A’). I have asked some people here why this is, and they say that olive tends to crack easily with time, especially when it is cut thinly. Also it is very difficult to cut at the saw mill stage and the owners are reluctant to waste their saw blades on individual cutting jobs. Even olive wood furniture making is quite rare here. If you could see the region you would be amazed at this lack of olive wood artistry. To go inland here is to be surrounded by olive trees. From almost sea level up to 900 meters there is precious little else. The beauty is stunning, especially when a summer shower is imminent and the leaves turn creating a shimmering silver green effect as if to welcome to the rain.

Here the olive tree is used to supply heat and olives only. The tree is ideal for fire logs because, as has been pointed out, an olive farmer will use his pruned off branches. So the tree lives, and works, on.

Recently - when on a trip to the north, to the saw mill that provides excellent alpine spruce - I asked about the lack of olive usage in intruments. The owner smiled secretively and said they had some olive wood waiting to be quarter sawn and that we should speak again in a year.

So my friend will have to wait a couple of years for his guitar (which is probably a good thing, because I will gain building experience). But I am still a bit baffled as to the lack of usage in instrument making of this noble, historical, beautiful working wood.

Are your experiences with the olive similar in Greece, Victor?

Any thoughts from you ‘woodly’ wise gentlemen would be welcome.

And thank you all for the highly interesting and knowledgeable input that has been supplied of late. I am a infrequent poster, but an avid and grateful reader.


Apr-27-2004, 2:20pm
dear alec -

like you, i have been interested in discovering why olive wood is not often used in the manufacture of musical instruments. if you are now ,or will be on line for the next few hours, please take a look at this item on ebay:

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws....c=photo (http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&category=623&item=3719977876&tc=photo)

it's an oud made with olive wood.

please let me know what you think.

sincerely - bill

Apr-27-2004, 3:04pm
Personally I think the bowl looks beautiful, Bill. Unfortunately though, I know nothing about ouds. It is difficult to tell from the pictures whether the neck is also made of olive or not. The finger board doesn’t seem to be olive ( the photo might be deceptive), but the finger board extension could be.

If I remember rightly, from working in Tuscany on occasion, there is quite a strong north African presence there. It might be worth asking around to see if you have any “local” Egyptian oud experts to check out this instrument. Egyptian restaurants would be a good place to start that kind of inquiry, I think. And if unsuccessful, you can be consoled by excellent cous-cous.

Then again you might be an oud man yourself?

Either way it is very encouraging to see a bowl made from olive wood, is it not? With all the discouraging things I’ve been hearing about brittle, cracking olive, I was seriously wondering whether it would be sage to try to bend this kind of wood - even for guitar sides.

I eventually remembered the name of the German luthier who made the olive guitar, by the way. Have a peep: http://www.amann-gitarrenbau.de/eng/galerie.htm scroll down to the “Mediterraneenne”

Lovely work and wood, I think you will agree. Actually, I remember dropping the gentleman a note to ask him about the pros and cons of this particular wood, but he never got around to replying.

The saw mill I mentioned before is Rivolata in Desio north of Milan. If you are interested I will ask them about the wood they will be cutting the next time I am up there, and see if you could have some sent down to Tuscany.

Cheers Alec.

Bob A
Apr-27-2004, 3:11pm
Bruce Harvie, who posts under the name "Spruce", is a dealer in tonewoods, and has, I think, some luthier experience. I'd strongly suggest that you email him thru the board, and tap into his experience.

Apr-27-2004, 3:22pm
Good idea, Bill. Will do.

Apr-27-2004, 3:26pm
Sorry. I meant : "Good idea, Bob."

Apr-27-2004, 5:18pm
i do play an oud and a charango - i'm here under sufferance. #

thanks for the offer of some wood but i don't think i'll be needing it. #the idea of making an instrument has appealed on several occasions but commmon sense prevaled. #(that and a sober appraisal of how much sand remains in the top of the hour glass.)

the olivewood guitar by wolfgang amann (wonderful name) is a beauty; looks as if it might weigh a bit though. #i'd be curious to hear what "spruce" has to say about olive wood. #it's odd that fruit trees of all sorts are used in the manufacture of musical instruments but olive ain't.

to get back to picks or quills...

i've seen a 17th cent. (i think) italian painting reproduced in one of my art books which shows a girl playing a lute with a quill. #the odd thing about it is that she's holding the quill poised between her thumb and index finger as one would hold a dart - almost as if she's getting ready to launch it into the instrument - and not as if the plectrum were an extension of her thumb. #if i come across it again i'll get the artists name and see if there's a copy of it online.

i think i've said this before but to be honest with you guys, i prefer a nylon guitar pick. #i know that's letting the ball drop but the music - in my case - just sounds better with it. #the horn plectrum that i sometimes use on the oud has a very aggressive attacking sound and i begin to wonder what damage i'm doing to the strings. #the rather loose lute tuning i have on the charango simply couldn't take it.

good weather for a change and my(!!) how the grass has grown...

ciao - bill

Apr-28-2004, 6:43am
Ah, how small the world is... My lovely niece lives in Desio and works in Milan http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/wink.gif

I would not follow the olivewood-as-tonewood path too eagerly. For as supple and pliant as this wood can be when fresh, it becomes virtually petrified as it dries out. And the "furniture" I was speaking of is truly, ehm... primitif, i.e. bare logs, stumps and what-nots shaped into VERY rudimentary seats and tables of sorts. I would not envision too much human intervention on olivewood: the wood does crack easily, plus it would most certainly declaw and render toothless any decent sawblade in a matter of seconds.

There are ample, other woods for instrument-making.

Apr-28-2004, 7:00am
victor -


what i know about instrument making you can fit in your hat but i would have thought that an instrument made from very hard wood would produce a very crisp, clear, resonate sound. i appreciate that fashioning an instrument from the stuff would be more difficult but i wonder if technology in tool making (saw blades, etc.) has advanced to a point which negates formerly held prejudices.

i'm with you vis olivewood furniture and knick-knacks - brute cose.

nice bowls though...

ciao - bill

Apr-28-2004, 4:56pm
"it's odd that fruit trees of all sorts are used in the manufacture of musical instruments but olive ain't."

There are quite a few woods that are very effective in instrument making that are not used, mostly because the species are not commercially viable as a timber species...

Madrone comes to mind, and olive probably fits into that catagory as well.
The trees are small, and it's difficult to get 8" wide stock for guitar backs, and 36" long stock for sides.

I've milled a few olive trees, and the wood is striking, with it's streaky figuring. #You see it a lot in Italy and other countries, mostly used for spoons and other utensils. #Nice stuff...

I think if you could find appropriate sized timber, it would make a fine guitar...
But that's just a guess...

Alex Timmerman
Apr-30-2004, 8:56am
Hi Bill,

Here an original quill made of horn for playing the Oud. Do you use something similar?


Alex ©

Apr-30-2004, 11:04am
dear alex -


thanks to a generous oudie in portugal i have a "risha" (as it's called) in horn. i also bartered some of my olive oil for an entire cow's horn so let me tell you...i'm ready!

regards - bill

Alex Timmerman
May-02-2004, 3:21pm
If you are interested in making your own feather quill, click on the smily:

http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif (http://www.mandolincafe.net/cgi-bin/ikonboard.cgi?act=ST;f=6;t=15088) #

for full instructions with photos.



Tony R.
May-03-2004, 3:41am
Dear Alex,
I'm sure I speak for all when I say a huge and heartfelt THANKYOU for all your work on the quill plectrum topic. It's all quite superb and a huge help!
Now all I have to do is go and make friends with the Queen's Keeper of Ravens in the Tower of London!

Very best wishes,

May-03-2004, 10:41am
Hi Tony,

I visited those (pampered) ravens last fall... but I don't think I'd be pulling any stunts at The Tower... the keepers have a history of dealing harshly with those who would make mischief eh? :-)

(Sorry... I just finished reading "Elizabeth"... the grass of Tower Green is etched into my mind just now...)


May-12-2004, 6:27am
i woke up this morning thinking about something contained in the article that victor translated earlier on in the thread:

"The plectrum built from the white side of the quill is considered superior because it is softer, more flexible, and therefore gives the sweetest sound...
...In olden times, lutenists would use the white pick when they performed for a small audience of few, sensitive revellers, while using the black one for hard, loud playing for hours at village feasts."

in regards to those who electrify or in other ways try to force more volume out of their instruments, i think, on the whole, i'd prefer to play mine for a few "sensitive revellers" than a bunch of drunks too long at the fair.

kind regards - bill

May-12-2004, 6:32am
http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif Of course, Bill! In fact, THAT is precisely what the author of the article I translated is saying, albeit in somewhat, ehm... veiled terms: The equipment deemed superior is held in this higher esteem precisely because it is to be used to entertain the gentlefolk...

I agree wholeheartedly, with both you and the author. Pick on— but gently! http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/wink.gif

Bob A
May-12-2004, 8:55am
I used to have a crew of raucous ravens hanging about the neighborhood. There were at least a dozen who would spend their days in and around my yard, making rude comments and generally providing a certain "tone" to the area. With the onset of West Nile two years ago, they have disappeared entirely. I must say I miss them. They provided a counterbalance to the gradual upscaling of the area, and a touch of vulgarity that enabled me to blend in - after all, they were even more unmelodic than I!.

It's positively frightening to see an entire species of hardy survivor types go missing nearly overnight. Youall had better watch your backs. First they get the plectra, then the mandolinists.

May-12-2004, 9:15am
gee, that's chilling - shades of "the silent spring."

there's an adage in england which helps to explain the difference between crows and rooks:

if you see a rook...
that's a crow.
if you see a bunch of crows...
'dems rooks.

John Bertotti
Jun-19-2004, 6:27pm
Alex would this be a suitable material for a Ranieri style pick project? John http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/rock.gif

Alex Timmerman
Jun-20-2004, 2:57am
Hello Reesaber,

Please clarify the material you are thinking about.



John Bertotti
Jun-20-2004, 8:18am
Oops! forgot the link. Here it is pick material? (http://www.stewmac.com/shop/Bindings,_trim/Trim:_Pickguard_material/Tortoise_Pickguard_Materials.html)
Thanks John

Alex Timmerman
Jun-20-2004, 9:46am
Hello John,

Yes, that is exactly where the celluloid I use for the Embergher/Ranieri plectrum, comes from.
Only I order it from Harry Boetzkes - Snaarinstrumenten (String instruments) in the Netherlands. (http://www.hboetzkes.com/)

The thickness you must choose is 2.8 mm.

If you like, I will make a new photo session with close ups of how to make such a plectrum.

Many greetings,


John Bertotti
Jun-20-2004, 1:16pm
Alex thanks if you have the time it would be great to see the process. Thanks again John http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif

Jim Garber
Jun-20-2004, 3:40pm
The 2.8 mm (.110 inches) plastic that Alex refers to would correspond to the 4415 (slightly lighter) ands the 4416 (somewhat heavier). Of course the plastic might be a different composition.


Alex Timmerman
Jun-21-2004, 1:14am

The Tortoise Pickguard Material (http://www.stewmac.com/shop/Bindings,_trim/Trim:_Pickguard_material/1/Tortoise_Pickguard_Materials/Pictures.html#details) I use to make the Embergher/Ranieri plectrum was bought at Harry Boetzkes´ and ordered by the latter from Stewart-MacDonald. I think this tortoise looking material is of the very same ´plastic´ composition.

Jim, thanks for being so precise. I re-measured the thickness of an unprocessed/unfiled piece of the material with an Mitutoyo micro calliper rule and that gave exactly 2.55mm.
This corresponds better with the No. 4415 of Stewart-MacDonanld (So lets forget my earlier in-correct 2.8mm.)

It´s not real tortoise in terms of being subject to wear, but it comes very near.

It is really a fine quality substitute for this purpose. #



Alex Timmerman
Jul-11-2004, 1:29pm
Hello Reesaber, I see you are ´on line´,

I finally found the time to make some new Ranieri plectra. And to picture the whole process from A to Z.

I hope to post it tonight or tomorrow.



John Bertotti
Jul-11-2004, 1:50pm
Alex no rush I haven't received the material yet. I do thank you and have one question in regards to holding these or any picks. The pick I currently use is relatively inflexible and tends to rotate in my grip. It is triangular in shape in order to eliminate pick buzz I need to hold it lightly but for better tone I must hold it a bit firmer. Is this common of all picks and just something you learn to control with practice? I wonder if putting a cross hatch texture on the gripped section of the pick would help? Thanks John

Alex Timmerman
Jul-11-2004, 3:00pm
Hello John,

I don´t think your plectrum being of a triangular shape eliminates the buzzing of it. If it is ´relatively inflexible´ (as you say yours is) ànd thick the best thing is holding it lightly because due to it´s weight it automatically give a better, thicker, warmer and louder tone.

For ff and fff passages or for sudden sf´s the plectrum of course should be held with more grip, but in general the weight of the (Ranieri) plectrum does the job.

Also one must keep in mind that good or perhaps the best plectra go together with the best mandolins. What I mean is this: a fine quality bowlback has a certain sound, a refined ´resonance´ just by itself. One only has to bring this out with a plectrum of equal quality.

It is very similar to the violin: a fine violin needs a fine bow. One with a certain weight that is held very lightly between the RH fingers and one that does the job almost by itself. The main thing is to keep the bow exactly at it´s place on the strings; between the bridge and the top of it´s fingerboard. #

And here I come upon your other question: what to do if the plectrum rotates between the fingertips?
This is something that often happens when a plectrum is held loosely.

But there are ways to correct this while playing. Depending on what direction you want the plectrum to go, it can be done through a bit more pressure between the RH thumb and forefinger on the right or left side of the plectrum. Or - the faster way, if (fast) music requires - move the plectrum in the right direction with the middle finger of the right hand.

I have some old Ranieri tortoise shell plectra with crossed lines cut out in the gripped section. So yes, this can help.

However, I think it is best to avoid these grip engravings, drilled holes or band-aid plasters on your plectra and to really study how to correct the ´rotating´. I am sure that in time you feel much more secure while playing.



John Bertotti
Jul-11-2004, 3:48pm
I only started in May and can passably read easy passages, and have started manipulating the pick while playing by changing the attack I will try the middle finger but my grip has been open, fingers extended over the plate but not really touching. I should have posted this in a topic of it's own, sorry everyone.Thanks Alex. John

Alex Timmerman
Jul-11-2004, 4:41pm
Well John, If you think it is of interest you can still make it a separate Topic starting with your first Message about this subject. I can respond thereafter with my previous answer of today (July 11 2004, 16:00) and perhaps others can add their ideas. #



Alex Timmerman
Jul-12-2004, 2:02pm
Hello John,

I have placed the making of the Ranieri plectrum in the Ranieri Topic. For a fast link just click right here. (http://www.mandolincafe.net/cgi-bin/ikonboard.cgi?act=ST&f=6&t=13905&st=25&&#entry170779)



Jul-26-2004, 7:23am
had to cut some good sized branches off a dying cherry tree and thought i'd have a go at one of alex's picks. all in all it's a surprising alternative to horn. much stiffer, a bit like playing music with an ice cream stick ... tremolo appears to be out of the question but who knows ....

May-26-2011, 2:54am
I have placed the making of the Ranieri plectrum in the Ranieri Topic. For a fast link just click right here. (http://www.mandolincafe.net/cgi-bin/ikonboard.cgi?act=ST&f=6&t=13905&st=25&&#entry170779)

Lately I notice interest for plectra, so I would like to remind this thread from 7 years ago.

It is only a pity, that this link does not work anymore, that this information, the Ranieri topic disappeared from the forum. (ah, the "good" old years....)


May-26-2011, 7:10pm
Margriet, perhaps it is this thread (http://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/showthread.php?1621-Ranieri-The-Art-of-the-Mandoline/page2)?

May-26-2011, 8:57pm
Haha, Schlegel and Margriet - that thread was also from 7 years back, when I now see that I was still quite the Roman plectrum skeptic (try saying "Roman plectrum skeptic" ten times very fast!) How times change, indeed!


May-27-2011, 1:54am
Margriet, perhaps it is this thread (http://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/showthread.php?1621-Ranieri-The-Art-of-the-Mandoline/page2)?

maybe, yes.... I don't know if this is the thread, as the link didn't work :(, so I don't know what I am missing. But I did not see this link before, so maybe, yes. Thanks a lot!
With me some links don't work, they say:
Forbidden Sorry, this area is not available for directory browsing.
:confused: Maybe because I am rather new on the forum ?

I could go to the thread " Ranieri--The Art of the Mandoline", by the link you gave. In that thread Alex linked again, where I get the same message. Please do you want a try with your magic again ? Or Scott ?:)
it is 13 July 2004
About how to hold and play with the Ranieri Plectrum can be found here in the "Right-hand / letting the top ring freely" Topic.

Bratsche: yes, funny. People can change opinion. But I think there is much good information in those threads, that still is valuable. We will not need to re- start from the beginning and repeat the same questions and answers. It would be great if we all can reach those old threads and just go on with sharing information and experience.
It is not always easy to search on the forum. :confused:


May-27-2011, 2:40pm
Success! Here (http://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/showthread.php?3789-Right-hand-technique&) is the thread on technique. The first thread I found shows the instructions for manufacture of the plectrum.

I believe the old links were broken in the move of the website, it is not anything particular to you, Margriet. But if you search on Google rather than using the Cafe search box, much that was hidden can be found.

May-27-2011, 2:48pm
WAW !!!


I thought there were gone and I think Alex as well was thinking this.

To keep these threads here on the forum, maybe it helps if we react on the thread itself ? We are gonna save them, yeah !