View Full Version : Guitar Bodied Octave Mandolins?

Jun-18-2004, 4:55pm
Anyone have any experience with these?

I'm relatively new to mandolin, but have found learning it to be straight-forward and enjoyable. While it's a superb instrument, I find it hard to sing along with as I play (I'm sort of tenor and I get drowned out). I've tried to teach myself guitar in the past, but while I enjoy the rich deep sound for accompaniment, don't enjoy playing it very much.

It seems like a great solution would be a guitar-bodied octave mandolin, thus coupling the rich deep sound box with a fretboard that makes sense to me. Would this be a violation of nature's laws? http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif

Jun-18-2004, 6:00pm
I know that Bill Bussman makes Old Wave OMs that are shaped like arch-top guitars. Never heard one.

Patrick Gunning
Jun-18-2004, 6:55pm
I have both heard and played Bill Bussman's guitar octaves (Tim O'brien has a Nugget one). They are very nice instruments. I spent the better part of 3 or 4 hours at Bussman's booth at wintergrass just jamming on one (I hung around enough that people began to think I was his kid or something http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif. Good stuff. The main advantage to these I see is the comfort factor. The long neck on a traditional octave mando in relationship to the size of the body makes it an unwieldy instrument and not very balanced. No such problem with the guitar octaves. I'd talk to Bill, I know he has spent a good deal of time refining his design since he built the one that I played.

Mike Crocker
Jun-18-2004, 7:41pm
Well...I'm waiting on the delivery of a guitar/bouzouki, a 25" scale 8 string tuned an octave below mandolin. I contributed much to its design so I'm kind of excited about getting it, likely within a month.

Peace, Mooh.

Jun-18-2004, 7:45pm
Who are you getting it from and do you have any pictures?
Also, could you tell me/us a little about its features?

Mike Crocker
Jun-18-2004, 9:06pm
A new luthier named Josh House (www.house-guitars.com) is building my guitar/bouzouki. He is an occassional guitar student of mine who took a building course and has built a few very fine acoustic guitars. To support him, give him some practice, and help him get started in this tough business, I ordered the guit-zouk and a guitar. The bouzouki will be walnut back and sides, cedar top, ebony board and bridge, purpleheart rossette, side port, smallish sound hole, Schallers, 25" scale, bone nut and saddle, and clear finish. It's well along now so I expect he'll deliver it in a month or so.

I'm not sure I'd support every friend or student who starts building instruments, but this guy is young, talented and deserving. Besides, he was more than willing to do the job.

I have a few pictures of the work so far, but I'll need to read up on how to post them. When there's more to show, I'll post them.

Peace, Mooh.

Mike Crocker
Jun-19-2004, 7:58am
I should mention that I haven't entirely decided how to string this thing. The lower two courses will be unison tuned initially (from the builder), but I know I'll be tempted to try them octave tuned. Anyone got ideas about this?

Peace, Mooh.

Jun-19-2004, 10:29am
Rick Felkel of Elloree Guitars will build you a nice looking octave mandolin based on a parlor guitar sized body for $550 + $100 case + $25 shipping. #Scale length would be between 22" and 23 5/8" depending upon wishes. #Neck width is 1 3/8". #Check out the 8 string parlor guitar in the center of this page: http://www.angelfire.com/la2/elloree/guitars.html


Jun-20-2004, 1:46am
Yous should check www.pwcrumpco.com. Here is one of his octave mandolin, guitar shaped. Good luck. #http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/cool.gif

Jun-20-2004, 4:01am
OOOPS, it looks like I've made a mistake ... confusion when I joined the image to the message. This is an Old Wave OM not a Phil Crump. Here is the Crump guitar bodied OM, sorry again http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/sad.gif

Jun-20-2004, 4:55am
Both Bill's and Phil's are very nice instruments. I played several of Bill's (guitar, teardrop, F-shaped) octaves, and also many of Phil's instruments. Not a dog in the bunch, and clearly top-drawer professional quality builders.

Jun-20-2004, 2:49pm
isnt tim o briens bouzouki a guitar body?

Patrick Gunning
Jun-21-2004, 2:48pm
Yes, his is a Nugget custom made by Mike Kemnitzer, one of a kind as far as I know. Lately, Tim has taken to using a shorter scale, weird-bodied archtop octave made by Giacomel in Italy. I personally thought the guitar one sounded much better. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif

Michael Lewis
Jun-24-2004, 1:04am
I agree with GUNNING regarding the sound of the Nugget. It is a 23 1/2" scale, and the 'new' Giacomel is shorter. That Nugget is truely awesome, kinda makes me want to make some. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/wink.gif

Jun-24-2004, 2:43pm
The old wave CBOMS I've played have been top notch.

I have a Guitar bodied Zouk...5 course from Graham McDonald...
Top craftsmanship. He'll make 4 courses...

Here's a pic or 2...

Jun-24-2004, 2:44pm

Jun-24-2004, 2:48pm
Great full sound from this instrument. I thought I'd go with 5 courses so I could really drive the arch top.

Very happy with this instrument!

I use it more of back-up than melody...
25in Scale
EAEbf# (whole step above DGDae)


Jun-24-2004, 3:43pm
Here's a link to more..



Rich Michaud
Aug-23-2004, 10:27am
Well, I have taken the plunge. Mr. Michael Lewis who posts on this thread, has kindly agreed to make an octave mando for me in the guitar body style-details to be worked out as we go. It looks to be a very exciting project. With Mr. Lewis' permission, I hope to post progress reports on instrument and will probably seek help from folks on this site as to some of the design choices. I will post again when we get close to the start date which is at least months away.

Aug-23-2004, 11:03am
Cool! I have an OOO guitar bodied custom in progress right now from Phil Crump so I look forward to contrasting them.

Rich Michaud
Aug-23-2004, 3:43pm
Jim, What neck length are you having done and why? Are you having a pickup installed? How about tuners? Finally, what woods are being used? Rich

Aug-23-2004, 3:54pm
(Assuming this is addressed to me, it's Jeff, not Jim http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif)

Scale length is 24"-ish, no pickup, tuners are high-end Gotohs, and it's being made from bubinga w/sitka top. My goal is to have something like a Martin 000-28 in aural richness & flexibility. It was a deliberate choice to get the flat-top sound instead of doing the archtop thing.

Rich Michaud
Aug-23-2004, 4:04pm
My apologies as to your name-Jeff not Jim. Thanks for the prompt response. Sounds great. When is the start or finish date expected? Are you looking more rhythm or lead sound? Do you expect the bottom strings to be in pairs or octaves?
Sorry for so many questions but the information helps me in my decisions as to the Lewis octave mando to be built for me. thanks. Rich

Aug-23-2004, 4:16pm
Start date was sometime in June/July, end time hopefully before the end of the year, but it's art and I'll wait for art.

I'm thinking more rhythm than lead, and intended for solo vocal accompaniment. Strung GDAE pairs. It's hard to say what it is, i.e. mutant octave mandolin or mutant tenor guitar. Probably a little of both. It's sure been a lot of fun to think through though.

What are you provisionally having built?