View Full Version : Bowl depths

John Bertotti
Jun-21-2004, 10:29am
I have been looking at pics of different bowls on the net. It seems to me from the picks that the Vegas Bowl is a bit smaller and shallower than the Calace. Am I correct in this interpretation? Have those of you that have played many different bowls found the depth to really change the sound characteristics of the instruments? I'm just trying to gather everyones thoughts as I embark on another project. I'm currently collecting the wood for a couple of bowls. They won't actually be begun for at least a year. I like the wood to sit inside my shop at least that long. Thanks all John http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/cool.gif

Jim Garber
Jun-21-2004, 10:37am
I think the vintage American bowlbacks are by nature smaller and less deep than the Italian ones. I am not sure if the vintage italian ones are larger in general, since I have only played more contemporary ones. I know the Martins Washburns and Vegas I have will fit in one kind of case whereas my Pandini (2003) will not.

Others who have more direct experience with the Italian instruments can chime in here.

I would say it would be good to somehow get your hands (and measuring apparatus) on some good instruments.


Jim Garber
Jun-21-2004, 11:29am
I trying to answer (or help to answer) John's question, I found this site (http://www.music.ed.ac.uk/euchmi/cimcim/iwd.html) which seems to have a list of historical instrument plans.

You have to look under Lutes for mandolin plans (these below seem the most promising):

Mandora, anonymous ("W.E."), Italy end 16th century. [drawn by] Gerhard Söhne, 1979. Vienna: Kunsthistorisches Museum, Sammlung Alter Musikinstrumente. No. 37 (8440, C 41).
1 sheet. 1 microfiche (1 pict.) [original#set].

Mandore, anonymous, Italy (?) 18th century. [drawn by] Pierre Abondance, 1976. Paris: Musée de la Musique. No. -.
1 sheet + explanatory notes. 1 microfiche (2 pict.). [Supplement#2000]

Mandolin, attributed to Vinaccia, Naples early 18th century. [drawn by] Darryl Martin 1993. Edinburgh: University of Edinburgh, Collection of Historic Musical Instruments (Macaulay Collection). No. 303.
1 sheet. 1 microfiche (1 pict.). [Supplement#2000]

Is anyone (Alex? Eugene?) familiar with these plans?


Jun-22-2004, 1:28am
Vega bowls are smaller than the 'Calace' type, they are closer to the Vinaccia model of the early 20th century.

John Bertotti
Jun-22-2004, 5:03pm
I wonder sometimes if the search engines we use predetermined the sites displayed. Excellent information Jim. Thanks John http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/laugh.gif

Jun-22-2004, 5:31pm
I trying to answer (or help to answer) John's question, I found this site (http://www.music.ed.ac.uk/euchmi/cimcim/iwd.html) which seems to have #a list of historical instrument plans...Is anyone (Alex? Eugene?) familiar with these plans?
I am aware of CIMCIM. #I stumbled across their site when I was seeking early 18th-c. guitar specs a few years ago. #If I recall correctly, Edinburgh had the bulk of what I was seeking then. #Still, I left aspirations to luthiery in very short order, never got around to ordering drawings, and can't vouch.

As Richard implies, the soundboxes of the Calace shop and their emulators strike me as much stouter than many others. #Vega mandolins definitely favor the petite. #Martin's are bigger than Vega's, but not so chunky as to be Calace-like. #Chicago makers (esp. Lyon & Healy) had soundboxes as long or longer than Martin's, but they were narrower with a deeper bowl. #I must have a measurement or two somewhere to quantify some of this. #I'll try to remember to look it up some time when I'm home with appropriate references.

Jim Garber
Jun-23-2004, 12:47pm
If you want me to measure some of my bowlbacks, LMK.


John Bertotti
Jun-23-2004, 1:33pm
Jim I will certainly take you up on your offer. I am in no hurry. I do need to first decide which measurements I ned first. This project isn't going to be a copy of a design so much as a quest for a certain sound. At the moment the measurements I am hoping to find are the actual thickness of the back ribs. I am assuming that they are a consistent thickness the full length of the rib. I am also hoping to replicate the fluting. I do not have access to any mandolins other than my Vega. Thanks John http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif