View Full Version : ...and another new Hamlett

Apr-01-2009, 2:22pm
Circumstances have kept me off line lately, but haven't kept me out of the shop!
This is the newest one as far as serial number is concerned, but was the first of the last two to be completed.
Red spruce, red maple, nitrocellulose, Elite tuners with ivoroid buttons, gold plated hardware.

Apr-01-2009, 2:26pm
A real beauty John! I love your tailpiece....

Apr-01-2009, 2:26pm
The customer requested simple ivoroid bindings (no black line), and ivoroid tuner buttons. I kind of like the clean look of the trim against the intense curly maple. I never did manage to get the light to cooperate to get a shot that really shows how the grained ivoroid tuner buttons complement the simple ivoroid peghead binding, but here's one that tries to get the idea across.

Apr-01-2009, 2:36pm
I thought this back wood deserved it's own photo...

Apr-01-2009, 2:40pm
Finally, here it is after making and installing the customer-requested ebony pick guard.

Apr-01-2009, 2:57pm
Yowsa. I love seeing new mandolins come out of your shop, John. Congratulations. I like the clean looks you showed off there. I also like the torchy-peghead inlay.


Apr-01-2009, 2:58pm
W. A.!


Apr-01-2009, 3:25pm
Beautiful John. My goodness, that's extremely tasty!


Apr-01-2009, 3:32pm
Wow! John, you can burst with the best of them. Very nicely done, and killer set of maple too.
If this site had the hands-clapping emoticon, I'd give you the max. number of 'em.

Scotti Adams
Apr-01-2009, 3:46pm
Very, very nice John.

Skip Kelley
Apr-01-2009, 4:38pm
Sweeeeet!! Love that back and the sunburst is perfect!

Apr-01-2009, 9:53pm

Apr-01-2009, 10:03pm
That is a beaut. What's the story on its tailpiece? I like it lots.

Chris Biorkman
Apr-01-2009, 10:28pm
Beautiful, John. Your work always looks very polished and refined. I like your personal twist on the F-5 shape.

Bill Snyder
Apr-01-2009, 10:43pm
That is a beaut. What's the story on its tailpiece? I like it lots.

That is John's own design. I know he has been using them for the last few years and he must occasionally sell them to others because some of the members of the cafe have them on non-Hamlett instruments.

Ivan Kelsall
Apr-02-2009, 1:01am
John,your new Mandolin looks incredible.Clean & classy would be what i'd call it,a very beautiful instrument,
Saska ;)

man dough nollij
Apr-02-2009, 1:08am
John, I really like the look of your mandolins. (Heresy alert!) I prefer the clean lines of your F-5s to the Gibson design. (Ducks!)

I remember IIRC a thread when I was brand new here (probably about a year ago) where you said your scroll design was more like an old Gibson mandola. Am I remembering right?

Could you refresh our collective memory on that one?



Gail Hester
Apr-02-2009, 1:14am
Awesome John, really nice work.

Stephanie Reiser
Apr-02-2009, 5:05am
John, I've always admired your work, and have run out of adjectives. Just awesome.
I looked carefully at these latest two, and the scrolls look a bit different. Both are textbook perfect, but different (from my angle). I wondered if that was intentional, or just my imagination. (Mine are all different coz I'm still trying to figure out how to make them.)
Terrific work. I love your transparent stain.

Austin Clark
Apr-02-2009, 8:06am
That is really pretty, John. Very elegant sunburst and I like your take on the scroll.

Mark Walker
Apr-02-2009, 8:33am
As Mary Poppins would say, "Quite satisfactory!"

Well done, well done! :)

Apr-02-2009, 8:52am
Thanks, all, for the complements!

Since "the scroll" has been mentioned, I'll say a few words about it.
The similarity between my scrolls and the old Gibson mandola scrolls is the taper. An H5 scroll leaves the body of the mandola and tapers constantly as it approaches the scroll button. An F5 scroll leaves the body of the mandolin and tapers toward the big curve, then gets wider as it starts around the curve, then tapers again as it approaches the scroll button. My mandolin scrolls are not shaped like H5 scrolls, but they do have a similar constant taper.

It felt like it took me "forever" to draw the scroll, and even longer to adjust it until it seemed to "fit" with the rest of the mandolin outline. There are four main lines to a scroll, as I see it: the circle of the button, the inside curve of the scroll itself, the line of the crest of the scroll, and the line of the outside curve of the scroll. I want all those lines to converge as the eye follows them toward the corner at the button, and at no place diverge and then converge again. If you look, you'll see that I've applied the 'constant convergence' principle to all the scrolls, points, and f-holes as well.
...And that doesn't even consider the "ramp" of elevation change of the lines as the scroll ramps up to the button...

Stephanie, yes they are different. Mine are all different because I "eyeball" those lines and their convergence every time, and sometimes I see it one way and sometimes I see it another. I like that aspect of the design and the individuality it gives the instruments. I don't think I would want them all the same and if I were to scan or program the shape into a CNC I'm sure I would soon be dissatisfied with whatever I was getting and want to change it slightly.

Apr-02-2009, 10:40am
Amen, John, re: individuality.
Not to mention, you have truly earned your Cafe handle.
I noticed your endpin looked custom (and nice!). Do you make these yourself?

Apr-02-2009, 11:51am
You know how you can look at some sports cars and they look like they're going a 100 plus miles an hour when they're parked. Well when I look at your beautiful mando I can almost hear the perfect tone coming out of her. Great work! She's awesome!

Apr-02-2009, 1:31pm

I haven't seen this one, but I heard from the owner today. He said "I love John's attention to detail."


Sean Greer
Apr-02-2009, 4:20pm
I thought this back wood deserved it's own photo...

Wow. Just wow.

Excellent work, John.

Chuck Naill
Apr-02-2009, 6:56pm
Very nice, John. Thank you for the photos.


P Josey
Apr-03-2009, 4:34am
Great looking mandolins John. I'm curious about the tonal qualities of each of the two mandolins you have posted. One being red spruce, red maple, and nitro lacquer. The other being red spruce, sugar(hard) maple and varnish. Did you have the opportunity to do a comparison before they left the shop?

Apr-03-2009, 8:55am
They sound a little different. The hard maple one has more "bite", a sharper attack sound at the beginning of the note, and is perhaps very slightly louder sounding. The red maple sounds smoother, rounder, with more perceived fullness in the lower ranges.
The sound differences are slight, they sound more alike than different, and any difference I hear I attribute to the difference in the maple, not the finish, because I've used these same woods with similar results regardless of the finish applied.

I chose the red maple for two reasons.
1. The customer saw a piece of the same wood that I was using for an earlier mandolin and said he liked the look.
2. I thought I could get the "tone" the customer said he wanted using that wood.

The red maple mandolin was made for a customer who knows just what he wants as far as sound, look, set up, and most things in life, actually. He is very exacting and is capable of communicating what he wants. He said something like: "on a scale from bass predominance on the left to treble predominance on the right, I want the tone right in the middle". I figured sugar maple would give the sound he wanted so I started two backs for the mandolin so I could make the decision later after he had a chance to play a couple of the ones that were underway when he ordered his. He played a sugar maple mandolin and said "a little more left", so I decided than to use the red maple. When he played this new one he said: "you nailed the tone I was looking for" so I guess it was the right decision!

Apr-03-2009, 9:04am
Don't your eyes get tired painting that flame on the back or, do you use a stencil? WOW!

Apr-03-2009, 10:01am
True to your Cafe name, that sunburst is a thing of freakin' beauty!
What a nice and clean looking instrument - while I always appreciate very ornate instruments, my personal taste is a more minimal look, and you nailed it with this one! Wow.
The binding rocks too.
Thanks for sharing, and congrats to the new owner!