View Full Version : Brunkalla F5 #1

Jul-12-2004, 7:49am
Here is the new Brunkalla F-5 mandolin. Martin Brunkalla is a modern violin maker besed out of Chicago. Now for those unfamiliar with any of his work, Martin was asked to make a custom fiddle for Sara Watkins of Nickel Creek which can really be heard on a few tracks of the album "This Side). Ok This is only with two coats, a few more to go.

Jul-12-2004, 7:59am
I had been looking around for a mandolin for a while. I've been everywhere to find one, I mean I played hundreds of mandos. My friend has a custom Stiver that I very much enjoyed, In fact I loved it. I was ready to offer my friend money for it. But then I came across one of Martins fiddles. I know I know, its a different beast, But you gotta play one to see what Im talking about. At that moment it put everything to a hault. I was no longer looking for a mandolin, My first thought was. I want to know what Martin Brunkalla can do. This is the most perfect fiddle Ive ever come in contact with. I want Martin to build a mandolin. Then I called Him up and proposed the mando idea. Though he had been approached with the idea before by some pretty well known players, he was just really trtying to perfect the fiddle. So i guess that I approached him at the right time. Martin seemed very intruiged by the whole Idea of making his first F5 mandolin. This is just with a couple coats, and just a few more to go. I'm getting a pic of the front tonight, which I will post. Im agoin crazy over this mando getting here. lol!

Jul-12-2004, 8:47am
What do some of you think of this finish so far?

Jul-12-2004, 4:55pm
Wow Im blown away by all the responses lol, no really , I'm just curious to hear some opinions.

Jul-12-2004, 5:07pm
I think we have already seen plenty of it on the other thread and I think people will comment there if they have one!

Jul-12-2004, 5:13pm
Well actually people were still trying to guess the name of the builder on the other thread, lots of them didnt scroll up to see the pic, so I think this thread is just fine.

Jul-12-2004, 5:15pm
Brunkalla! We all know by now. And you're right, this thread is just fine....I was just answering why you were blown away by all the responses!

Jul-12-2004, 5:19pm
Jeremy, you jealous? I wouldn't blame you. Gdae, wait till folks get home from work. It looks great.

Jul-12-2004, 5:20pm

Jul-12-2004, 5:24pm
neal, NO not at all! I have the mandolin I will play until the day I die and I have owned quite a few during my years, and I don't think any builder could persuade me otherwise.

Jul-13-2004, 7:09am
And here is the top.

Jul-13-2004, 7:53am
I must tell you, I really like the way that turned out.

Jul-13-2004, 12:04pm
Ok so I found out that the brunk#1 is gonna arrive in a week and two days.

Jul-13-2004, 12:25pm
I guess it's okay.

It might be just me but there appears to be a surface blem just above the left F-hole. It might be an imperfection in the wood, I can't really tell from that photo.

Jul-13-2004, 1:04pm
yes it does look think doesnt it?

Jul-13-2004, 1:07pm
thick I meant to type,not think lol. How could that affect the sound, do you know Scotti?

Scotti Adams
Jul-13-2004, 1:09pm
...hmm..my post vanished....yea Dem...it does look thick...but that may or may not be a problem when it comes to sound...Ive seen some that were entirely too thin in those areas....and that is a problem....more structurelly than anything else. All in all I say its a great first effort by some one thats gonna make his name in the mando builders world.

Scotti Adams
Jul-13-2004, 1:13pm
..wood is a strange beast....I couldnt really tell you how it will effect the tone....it could cut like a new file...or it could be a dog...you never know. You said you heard it...it sounded good to you and thats all that really matters. My gut feeling that being thicker in those areas shouldnt effect the tone....but hey..Im a player..not a builder.

Jul-13-2004, 1:20pm
Thanks Scotti, Thats all well put. I apreciate your imput.

Scotti Adams
Jul-13-2004, 1:25pm
..no problem...glad I could be of some help.. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif

Philip Halcomb
Jul-24-2004, 3:25am
Looks like the scroll needs to curve around a little more too... Although I'm sure that takes a lot of practice and since this is his first one....hmmm.... you know... Anyway, good looking mandolin, hope it sounds good too...

Jul-24-2004, 2:39pm

August Watters
Jul-25-2004, 5:22am
The violin scroll in the link above looks very nice -- but carving a beautiful violin scroll is a #completely different skill than than making a mandolin scroll. #The mandolin scroll is not just a solid piece of wood carving; it requires an elaborate set of steps and the ability to visualize them ahead of time. It requires a virtuosity that no builder should be expected to master the first time around.

I think we're all guessing here as to the builder's intentions. My guess is that for his first attempt at mandolin building, he wisely chose a simplified design.

If mandolin players often point to the scroll as a negative, it's because that's where the weak point in finish work usually shows up. Of course it has nothing to do with tone.

Jul-25-2004, 1:42pm
Alrighty then,
Wait!!!!!!! I almost for got for a few while reading that response, Wether playing mandolin is still supposed to be fun and for ones enjoyment or something closterphobic, where one has no space to move around any? All that input sounds like such a manufactured train of thought to me. Just my opinion.....
Im just glad Mr Monteleone didnt think of it in that prospective. It definetely hasnt costed him any. What do his mandolins bring in again? 30,000?

Jul-25-2004, 2:14pm
I totally agree with August Watters. I think it was a very intelligent move to go with a little more simplified scroll the first time around and have a very classy mandolin verses a so so scroll that everyone grumbles about when they see it. Congratulations on a beautiful mando gdae_boy1, I know you are very proud.

August Watters
Jul-28-2004, 7:59am
Im just glad Mr Monteleone didnt think of it in that prospective. It definetely hasnt costed him any.

I think it's clear from Mr. Monteleone's designs that he IS hip to design issues. Understanding the specifics HOW and WHY the F5 platform works are a necessary first step for any builder who wants to incorporate personal innovations without diluting the power and beauty of its design. Monteleone is a good example of a builder who has done his homework, and learned to build on the successes of past designers.

The F5 is not an arbitrary idea, it's the culmination of #the work of brilliant minds. It also reflects classical ideas of proportion, symmetry and balance -- well-established ideas from the world of art that explain how humans respond emotionally to visual stimuli. A builder who's willing to study how these ideas apply to mandolin design has a chance of making aesthetic improvements -- but a builder who isn't aware of what makes a successful design work, doesn't stand much chance of improving on it.

Just my opinion -- now back to the train factory. . . .

August W

Jul-28-2004, 8:11am
Thats all great, very informative even. But when it comes down to tone, I think before to much is said about this mandolin, one needs to consider where its tonely going, and where it already is. Ive put a few mandos to the test within this last week, and its obvious that the sound on this one dismisses any of that nonsence mentioned. You can go to the bluegrass jam with your pretty mandolin, and while they are looking at yours., they will be hearing mine.

Philip Halcomb
Jul-30-2004, 7:29pm
wha-wha-wait!! I apologize for sounding negative, it's just apparent the design he was going for, and for someone who has seen ALOT of F-5's of all different makes and models, my eyes were naturally drawn to the scroll because I happen to think one of the most beautiful points of a F-5 is the scroll. (sorry for the run-on sentence.) Not manufactured thinking, just personal taste and opinion. As for what Monteleone and others who completely designed their own vision of the F-5, kudos to them for breaking the mold and tempting fate with their own creations. Monteleone's mandolins are great sounding and of superb quality. The reason for his scroll being oddly shaped is that it is hollow which gives the mandolin it's own personality in regards to tonality. Just a side note, he also made standard loar copies (which are excellent by the way) until 1977-1980 something like that. Again, sorry for sounding negative, the mandolin looks great in all regards...


Jul-30-2004, 9:51pm
Hey Flip,

Flip a coin and decide what is is you are trying to say.
And when you figure that out let me know.
How on earth did you gather up everything I stated, and comprehended it as a dejected statment towards the F-5? It was August Watters drawn out explanation that I reffered to as manufactured.

Philip Halcomb
Jul-31-2004, 9:44am
Hey GDAE, get a grip and don't take yourself so seriously. Life is too short for that s@#%...

Jul-31-2004, 9:00pm
I agree, cause life is much too short to get caught up in this. I've watched these threads on this particular mandolin go on for far too long because GDAE is not able to accept anything but praise for this particular instrument. I joked in one of the threads that it was thread that wouldn't die and I'm right. That is one of the reasons I haven't partaked in this discussion because I could tell that the owner of the mandolin was fishing for compliments and not honest reaction.

Mandolin looks great, sure it sounds good. If you like it, that is all that is important. This luthier has a reputation as a fiddle maker, but not as a mandolin maker. So it is far too early to expect everyone here in the Cafe to be ready to put it in the same classification as Monteleone, Dudenbostel, or Gilchrist. Takes a lot of mandolins (or at least a very good pro endorsement) for a luthier to attain that level of artistic recognition.

Jul-31-2004, 9:56pm
Exactly what I said a few posts back. Fiddle builders need to stick to that. And Mr. gdae_boy, before you ask for opinions you better be ready to handle it from the whole mando community and not get upset and oh so psycho against someone that tells the truth. You asked for the truth after you built it up to be so much and you got it. Deal with it!

Aug-01-2004, 12:23am
I need to chill? at what point did I get mad? Did I miss something here? Its a discussion board. You are entiled to speak your mind, so am I. But It being typed and not said in person I can see why a few of you would take it in the wrong way. Really now, cant we all just chill and make up? Yes and I do mean myslef too. I do apoligize If I came across as a jerk. We are all into this instrument in one way or another and I just wanna cinsider that a cool bond, and really I dont want anything we've said to ruin that. We all may meet at a festival here and there one day, and Id like it to be on a cool note. So do you think we can start over guys? accept apoligy for coming off as rude?
Yes I am very proud of this mandolin, but I do understand that not everyone is gonna like it. Its like that with anything. You know?

Aug-01-2004, 3:40pm
So is my apoligy accepted?

Bill Snyder
Aug-01-2004, 8:08pm
Since fiddle builders shouldn't build mandolins should Bluett Bros. instruments be avoided? http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/rock.gif

Aug-01-2004, 8:35pm
Have you ever seen one of them in person? My friend has one and he will be the first to tell you that the workmanship is terrible but it does sound good.

Aug-02-2004, 8:35am
So whos going to IBMA? I've never been, is it amazing or what? Is there alot of prodduct there to buy? Like cases, straps, strings? The trade show will probably have all that right? Brunkalla is gonna have a couple of mandos on display. I hope they dont sound better than mine hehehe.

Aug-02-2004, 11:29am
Just so I'm not misunderstood, I'm not in agreement that fiddle builders shouldn't build mandos. My position is that a luthier may have a great reputation building one type of instrument--fiddle, guitar, etc.--but that doesn't automatically mean that any instrument other than their specialty will automatically be the best. There is still a learning curve. Now, I would like to see this particular builder's mandos have he has made several and has worked the bugs out.

And again, there is nothing wrong about the enthusiasm we may have in a small builder. I loved my Duff and will probably love my Henderson even more when I get it from Maverick tomorrow. I'll extoll it's virtues, gaze lovingly at it, think it sounds better than any Loar I've heard--but in reality, it will be an instrument that is top quality, sounds great to me, but will still have flaws in it that other mandolinists will see and I can't because I'm too close to the instrument.

I don't think you've been rude, gdaeboy, but I do think you could be accused of being a little overzealous about this mandolin and the builder (gosh, aren't there something like three or 4 threads on this one mandolin?). You've been on the Cafe a month and you have over 200 posts--almost all related somehow to this mandolin.

Congrats on the mando and don't hesitate to create some sound samples for us to listen to. I, for one, am very interested to hear how it sounds.


Aug-02-2004, 3:47pm

Any idea how I get sound samples on here?

Aug-02-2004, 4:34pm
Let me make my point clear Jim. I am sure there are fiddle, "violin" builders out there that can make excellent mandolins. I am just saying that there is a huge difference between constructing a mando and a fiddle. Take mando builders, most of them don't build fiddles, or at least not the ones I have known over the years. Different ballgame alltogether.

Bill Snyder
Aug-02-2004, 4:56pm
You are right, most mandolin builders don't seem to build violins, but there are several that build guitars. It would seem that with the carved plates and same woods being common to both mandos and violins that would be a more common combination than it is.

Aug-02-2004, 5:11pm
I do think most mando builders that build guitars would tell you that a guitar is so simple compared to a mando. Plus, it probably was a starting point for a lot of them because guitars are so popular and not as intimidating as a mando.

Aug-03-2004, 12:48am
To the best of knowledge you can't post sound samples here. What you can do, is upload them to any server space you might have and post a link to that download or webpage.


Aug-03-2004, 6:15am
For example, you could upload a sample of "Cold Frosty Morning" to the Mandolin Project page. For more details, see the song/tune project portion of Mandolin Cafe.

Aug-03-2004, 9:38am
Awsome thanks a ton regarding the upload options, Im gonna try to record some today. Excuse me I hope noone minds it'll be a low fidelity recording, for all my recording equipment resources are in Nashville at the moment.


Aug-03-2004, 9:42am
Since fiddle builders shouldn't build mandolins should Bluett Bros. instruments be avoided? http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/rock.gif
Check out the thread on F4 by Mark Bluett.
PS: I think Brunkalla #1 is a fine looking specimen, and if his mandos sound as good as his fiddles watch out.

Bill Snyder
Aug-03-2004, 3:07pm
That was more or less the point I was going for since Mark Bluett has built several mandolin family instruments. I would suspect that some fiddle builders can build some very fine instruments besides just violins, violas, etc.
I agree that just because someone is a violin builder does not mean that they will automatically build a "Great" mandolin, but it would certainly give them a leg up on getting started.

Aug-04-2004, 12:12pm
Again I do apoligize, I almost feel guilty, in fact I feel somewhat responsible for igniting this touchy subject. #Although I'm sure it has been debated long before this post. But then again thats what message boards can expect every now and then. Its good for us all to throw out our thoughts on these topics. Ive sorta sat back for the last couple of days without adding any replys, and noticed that others are still adding theirs. Feeling a little left out I decided to add a bit of blurb!

# # # # Now I cant speak much for other violin builders regading this subject. Cause honestly I dont know thier backrounds, and what else theyve created behing closed doors. For all I know they could be building a zillion other things and just chose to sells violins. Not likely but again, you never know!. #But I do want to at least clarify my specific situation in choosing this builder. And to explain that I did not choose Martin Brunkalla to build my mandolin blindly. Ive recieved many private emails, some polite some not so polite asking how and why I put my trust in this builder. Aside from being amazed with a few of his fiddles. I researched his resume in a rather intense manner. I also was determined to speak to other clients that have dealt with Martin in the past. Players that have been proven to time and time again that Martin can be trusted on all levels of luthery. I mean this guys hands have kept company with just about a dozen loars. He has been setting-up, repairing, rebuilding, restoring, and customizing every type of string instrument for almost 35 years now. #His very first paying lutherie job (in 1970) was a mandolin, a 1910 Martin to be precise. Since then Martin has worked on more mandolins than he can even remember, everything from a simple set-up to a restoration to new condition from a box of busted up parts. His lastest restoration was a Gibson A-3, circa around 1907. Again he's lost track of how many instruments he's nursed back to health a long time ago.
# # #
# # # # I was in search of a builder who just knew alot about creating. It didnt have to be anything specific, An engineer of many trades. I mean this guy has built 7 boats and an air craft. Thats gotta mean something in the area of inovation.
# # # # So although some may feel I'm fishing for compliments, I promise that its not that at all. Honestly, I'm just stating that, you never know what these violin builders are doing besides building violins. And although building different instruments can mean different results with every freshly strung up piece. It sure can hurt! Oh and from the sound of this mandolin it definetely didnt hurt. Can anyone say woody! Sounds so open so soon.

Aug-06-2004, 3:15pm
Heres a terrible quality photo I took right when I first saw Brunk

Aug-06-2004, 7:52pm
Hi revray, I guess it doesn't matter that you are the one that started that thread on the Bluett Bros. mando you own there. Nice call though! I STILL stand by my original convictions because I have played a couple of the BB F-5's. Yeah they do sound pretty good but where is the beauty? I am all into some workmanship!

Aug-06-2004, 10:48pm
MandoJeremy, it's probably time to put this whole discussion to rest but I want to respond to your comment. Not to get too philosophical but we all have an ideal mandolin whcih doesn't exist anywhere but in our minds. What constitutes this ideal is different for each of though of course they would have much in common. My Bluett F4 is as close as I will ever get to my ideal. Is it flawless? Of course not, nothing built by human hands ever has been or ever will be. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/mandosmiley.gif Having said all that I will close by saying my F4 is a beautiful instrument. Mostly because it brings out the best in the music we co-create.

Aug-07-2004, 4:36am
I am actually done with this one too there rev. I do agree that your F-4 is beautiful and I am glad is the mandolin for you. I know some people wouldn't like my Bush model but I love it and that is all that matters.

Aug-07-2004, 9:17am
AMEN! http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/laugh.gif