View Full Version : Third mandolin I ever built...

Jan-05-2009, 3:42pm
Haven't been a "I'll show you mine, if you show me yours kinda guy, since third-grade, but somehow it seems kind of fun, today. :redface:

First one sounded great, but looks pretty much like an "I think I'll build me a mandolin, just to see if I can." model. Second one - looks good, and sounds good, but I haven't taken any good pictures of her, yet.

So, the following are my #3:

Jake Wildwood
Jan-05-2009, 6:52pm
Nice and simple! I like the grain matching for the neck and sides.

Jan-05-2009, 7:39pm
Looks great. Tell us some more about it...


Jan-05-2009, 7:51pm
Well, Kestrel,

It's about time that thing got some pictures. She's a beaut! I'd love to hear how it sounds.


Bill Snyder
Jan-05-2009, 8:21pm
Sharp looking mandolin Gene. Nice work.

Trey Young
Jan-05-2009, 9:22pm
Nice looking mando, I dig the guitar style pick guard vs. the elevated style.

Jim Garber
Jan-05-2009, 9:26pm
That soundhole is an interesting shape... any head-on shots to show it off?

I like your aesthetics. I think you did your #3 at the same level at my potential #10 (if i ever get there).

Jan-06-2009, 8:10am
Thanks guys. Here's a straight on shot, but it's not a great job of photography. The other is of my "zero-fret-in-the nut" design.

This mando has Eastern Black Walnut back ribs, and neck. The neck is three piece, with a 1/4" piece of Ebony down the center. I use a carbon fiber bar, as neck reinforcement. Probably a bit of over kill with this one, with the Ebony center strip. The top is Engleman Spruce, and the head plate is Ebony. Scale is 14". I use an "H" top bracing pattern, that was suggested to me by Graham McDonald, and am experimenting with bridge placement, in relation to the lateral brace. This one sits directly on the brace. The neck block is my own design, and tapers from bottom to top, toward the sound hole, which, I believe, lends support to the top, under the fingerboard, and helps resist the desire of the neck to rotate toward the tailpiece. Again, just my opinion. It (the neck block) also extends around the ribs, a bit further than is traditional. I use a 15' induced arch to both the sound board and back, and 4-degree neck angle, which gives me an approximately 3/4" high bridge. Other than that, everything is pretty much traditional build.

For my tail-pieces, I use a standard Gibson style, from LMMI, but I overlay the flat with wood that matches the head plate, then inlay it with an MOP standing Kestral, which is sort of my trademark. I also inlay a hovering MOP Kestral as the 12th fret marker.

The nut is bone, and the bridge is one piece Ebony, of my own design. Rather than the typical square/angled compensation cuts, my bridge top/saddle is serpentine. I use a zero fret, that is set into a shelf at the leading edge of the nut, and against the fretboard, also of my own concoction. I think the photo shows it fairly well.

I, somehow, made my bridge way too low, on this one, and put on a set of really cheesy strings that I had laying around, and was rather disappointed in the sound, until I discovered the low bridge problem. The low break angle wasn't adequately driving the top. I now have a temporary Ebony shim under it, which made a difference of night and day, and am waiting for a shipment of strings, before I make a permanent adjustment to the bridge height. When I get that done, I'll see if I can work up the courage to post a sound clip of my way less than good playing, to an audience of pros.

I do like simplicity of design, and I like to allow the beauty of wood to "speak for itself" so I seldom use any stains or tints on anything I build. On my #2, I bound both the top and back, and thought it was just too much, so I only bound the top on this one, and like it much better. I've always liked the look and feel of oil/varnish finish, and since I've breathed all the lacquer and solvent fumes, in my life, that I need, I use a Tru Oil finish over a couple of light coats of 1-pound cut, amber shellac. This gives the wood a sort of older looking glow. I was considering doing a shellac French Polish, but I prefer the softer look of oil vs. FP, and consider the varnish to be a bit better protector, and, IMO, easier to maintain.

We're anticipating an ice storm here, today, and I'm in a decision making mood, regarding bracing for the mandola I'm currently building, so I may just hang out in the house, and see if I can get some decent photos of #2, maybe even one or two of #1 - just for contrast between "I think I'll build a mandolin, just for the heck of it.", and "Now, I think I'll get serious about it." If the day materializes that way, and I get something worth looking at, I'll post them here.

Again, thanks for the kind comments.

Have a goodun,


Ken Olmstead
Jan-06-2009, 11:54pm
I think it looks terrific!

Jan-07-2009, 12:51am
Pretty cool ! ... keep up the good work.