View Full Version : Cytole mandolin

Feb-17-2008, 12:55pm

The links below are pictures of my new cytole mandolin, #52, built by Brian Dean. It has a Carpathian spruce top with Koa back, sides and headstock. It is certainly a different instrument from what you normally see but that is what I wanted as I already have a Collings MF and Nugget/Collings TOB model and those suit me well for more traditional mandolin styling. This cytole is to indulge my sense of exploration (classical, medieval, renaissance, lute music.)

The ornamentation in the soundhole and above the nut was inspired by the Irish Book of Kells. It has really interesting inlay on the fretboard that can only be seen in certain light and angles as it is done in black pearl (a latin phrase that has meaning to me).

Brian is an amazing talent and such a great guy to work with. I have an Octave Mandolin of his that I love so much I was inspired to commission a cytole.


The inside of the case was customized by Brian to accomodate the cytole. He ships Tuesday, can't wait to play it.


John Hill
Feb-17-2008, 1:36pm
Awesome. Brian's work is wonderful to look at and I can only imagine a delight to play. I've never heard a cytole, do you have any plans for some clips once you get a hold of it?

Chip Booth
Feb-17-2008, 1:36pm
Amazing!! Post a sound clip when you get it, if you can.

Feb-17-2008, 2:14pm
you might be interested to see a possible predecessor to this beautiful instrument. details are difficult to see but i think it's in the same "ball park:"

http://www.mandolincafe.net/cgi-bin....t=50504 (http://www.mandolincafe.net/cgi-bin/ikonboard.cgi?act=ST;f=6;t=50504)

... jim garber clarified the image in a posting below the initial post. i never associated "two points" with the medieval citole before but there must be a link.

Feb-17-2008, 2:21pm
I certainly will put up some clips. I want to do some experimenting with different strings. Brian normally sends these out with regular phosphor bronze round wound mandolin strings and it gets a haunting, overtoned, medieval tone. I asked him to try Thomastik strings and he happened to have a set. The sound is much cleaner and dryer with these strings. Very classical. We'll see, I will experiment.

The cytole was a medieval stringed instrument that was a precursor to the guitar. It was tuned like a tenor guitar with the D (low) course octave split. I think this ancient instrument served as an inspiration for Brian but the one he builds is a mandolin all the way.

It has a flat top and semi-bowled back which is supposed to be very comfortable to play.


Milan Christi
Feb-17-2008, 4:07pm
That is simply gorgeous!

Thanks for sharing!! I'm anxious to hear it!

Jim Garber
Feb-17-2008, 4:15pm
It has really interesting inlay on the fretboard that can only be seen in certain light and angles as it is done in black pearl (a latin phrase that has meaning to me).
Here is the fretboard inlay:


Jim Garber
Feb-17-2008, 4:17pm
There are some other pics on Brian's site:




Jim Garber
Feb-17-2008, 4:43pm
Here is another link with info about the cittole (http://www.atlasofpluckedinstruments.com/cittern.htm) and other citterns.

Feb-17-2008, 4:49pm
well ... if you're really into the citole (spell it as you will) ... check this out - the first reference i ever encountered between it and the "modern" charango:


Feb-18-2008, 7:53pm
" can't establish a connection to the server at www.labraid.ca."

Really wanted to see this, but...

Feb-18-2008, 8:24pm
Seems to be back in business (http://www.labraid.ca/).


Feb-19-2008, 10:52am
Wow.......that is awesome, one beautiful instrument.

To "ditto" others, #would love to hear a soundtrack.


Feb-19-2008, 3:32pm
Thanks for your comments everyone. It shipped today, should have on Saturday.


Eric F.
Feb-19-2008, 3:50pm
Patrick, that's a beautiful mandolin. I have the walnut-backed beauty on Brian's site. I have Thomastiks on it now and it sings with them. Enjoy!

Feb-19-2008, 4:27pm

I have heard alot about yours, a lovely instrument. Do you find the Thomasik's change the sound quite a bit? Brian thought they did when he put them on mine.

Have you been exploring other musical styles?


John Zimm
Feb-19-2008, 4:31pm
That is just beautiful. If ever I had the money I would buy one of these in a heartbeat. Congratulations on your new acquisition.


Jim MacDaniel
Feb-19-2008, 4:47pm
Very nice! (and I guess you'll no longer have to worry about someone else showing up at a session with the same instrument http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/wink.gif )

Feb-19-2008, 4:54pm
brian's site is a wonder ... wish i had the where-with-all to place an order.

i'm curious to know what the difference is between a "citole" mandolin and a "two-point."

lovely instrument - tante bene cose.

Eric F.
Feb-19-2008, 5:52pm
Patrick, I found the sound quite different when I switched from the bronze strings it came with to Jazzmando strings. The T-Is took it to another level. It's sweeter, it sounds kind of shimmery and it still has this "pop" to it, especially in the midrange, that I really like. It sounds lovely. I've had it for several months and I still like it more each time I play it.

I have found myself playing gobs of medieval and Renaissance stuff from Alan Alexander's books, as well as minor-key Latin, Irish and Scottish music. An odd assortment, but it all sounds fabulous on this mandolin. My aimless noodling has taken on a dark tone as well. At some point I suppose I'll get back to fiddle tunes, but for now, I'm lost somewhere around the Middle Ages.

Man, I gotta say, that koa is yummy!

Feb-19-2008, 6:26pm
Bill, I believe the Cytole has a bit more of an elongated body and a bit more of a bowled back (by looking at the pictures). I'm getting a L&H style A inspired instrument from Brian later this year. I'm pretty excited. I'm shooting for a dark warm tone as well. MMMmmmm walnut. Like Eric F. I like to play the Allan Alexander music (Medieval and Renaissance stuff) and am looking forward to the Dean Tone!

That Koa back is gorgeous. Seriously. Man! And the soundhole rosette is a beauty as well.


Feb-19-2008, 10:51pm
I love the Koa as well. I had a tenor uke built by Augustino Loprinzi a couple of years ago and have been hooked since. Although I admit it was not an easy choice - I found the walnut very enticing.

It's funny to hear you mention the songbooks - I ordered 4 of Allan Alexander's books the other day in preparation for the mandolin to get here this W/E. Any recommendations of your favorite tunes from them?


Feb-19-2008, 11:06pm
Fabulous!!! Congratulations Patrick!!

I too am a LaBraid Cytole Companion in Waiting. I am experimenting currently with Tomastick's (on my Breedlove OO) to test feel and [somewhat] sound. With Patrick's now on its way to a new home, I come one step closer to my turn to personally exerpience Brian's talents.

Jaime--I am looking forward to watching your L&H come to life as well.

Feb-19-2008, 11:22pm
I like the Bransles, Judentanz, Christmas tunes, etc etc. heck... they come with a CD so you can hear them first. I'm a beginner and not yet up to full speed but they sound great on my Spira and know I'll enjoy them on my LaBraid! What I like about Allen's material is they're pretty approachable for a beginner and leave room for personal embellishments.

Another song I really like playing lately is a waltz by our very own JGarber called Tree of Life. You can hear it on his myspace page (http://www.myspace.com/jimgarber) and get a Mike Strangelove arrangement for TablEdit from Mandozine (http://www.mandozine.com/music/search_results.php?searchfor=tree+of+life&tuneselectby=C&mandolevel=&category=&songkey=&artist=&transcriber=&sortby=T&sortorder=A&submit=).


Feb-20-2008, 8:45am

That is a great tune by JGarber. Thanks for the link!

Jim Garber
Feb-20-2008, 12:20pm
Thanks, guys!

Feb-21-2008, 11:58pm
So how is that cytole sounding? Is there some audio posted somewhere?