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View Full Version : When is it a mandolin?



DPrager
Oct-18-2004, 9:23pm
I've been waiting just over a year, but Bob Schneider in Portland is starting on my new mandolin...And I do mean starting.

Here's the very first picture. Does it become a mandolin when the outline is drawn on the back?

Michael Lewis
Oct-19-2004, 12:37am
It's a mandolin in the mind of the luthier and probably you too, but to the rest of us it won't be one until it has strings tuned to pitch.

By the way, that is some outstanding looking wood.

gdae85
Oct-19-2004, 1:25am
The mandolin is already within the wood. The luthier's only job is to remove the excess wood. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif

Eugene
Oct-19-2004, 5:58am
Mandolin or not, that is some groovy maple.

grandmainger
Oct-19-2004, 6:03am
The mandolin is already within the wood. The luthier's only job is to remove the excess wood. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif
I was wondering, since the back and sides of a mando are usually the same wood (ie maple), would it be possible to carve a deep block of wood to produce a 1-piece back-and-sides mando, on which you only need to add the top?

Eugene
Oct-19-2004, 6:29am
That's a rather medieval technique. #It was the modus operandi of pre-renaissance luthiers. #For examples, see reproduction citoles, rebecs, gitterns, etc. #Wooden charangos and some middle eastern long-necked lutes are still built that way. #That was also the way Orville Gibson patented his original arched design. #There are still a few extant early Gibsons that were produced that way. #Note that he quickly abandoned that production technique.

grandmainger
Oct-19-2004, 6:42am
Thanks Eugene! Any reason why it was abandonned? I mean, it seems to me (zero knowledge of instruments building) like a good way to get perfect binding... With the great routing tools out there today, it would not be overly difficult to do...

Bob DeVellis
Oct-19-2004, 7:15am
Wouldn't you run into exposed end grain somewhere or other, either on the sides or on the butt? Basically, all four sides of the single board would be exposed. I suppose you could cover it with a thick, opaque finish but that doesn't seem like as eleganda solution as the convention method involving separate back and side pieces.

Rob Powell
Oct-19-2004, 7:35am
I'm sure the experts will chime in but my 2 cents...

First off, it's a waste of good wood since it would have to be a block as deep as the sides and it would have to be a block large enough for a 1 piece back. You could get more backs out of the same block.

Secondly, the carver would have to thin the sides by hand and remove a lot of wood from the back...ouch!

Lastly, imho, when you cut the binding channel, it would not be as structurally sound as a back glued to some kerfed lining unless you left a ledge like the kerf which I think would impinge on the sound.

However, I think Jonathan Mann is doing something rather interesting as his neck becomes part of the back. It looks cool and I'm sure has some structural effect as well.

Manndolins (http://www.manndolins.com/F7BCK.jpg)

grandmainger
Oct-19-2004, 7:45am
Wouldn't you run into exposed end grain somewhere or other, either on the sides or on the butt?
Doh! Absolutely, right. It didn't occur to me.

Jacob
Oct-19-2004, 7:47am
The Citole Project (http://www.crab.rutgers.edu/~pbutler/citole.html) details a builder's experience in carving an instrument body with integral back and sides from a single block of wood. (It's a very large webpage with a number of good photographs, just keep scrolling down.) Martin Backpacker guitars are made this way.

grandmainger
Oct-19-2004, 7:52am
Excellent page! Thanks for that. For those on slower connections (page is 3.5mb to load!) here are some telling pics:

http://www.crab.rutgers.edu/~pbutler/mapmak05.jpg

http://www.crab.rutgers.edu/~pbutler/mapmak07.jpg

Eugene
Oct-19-2004, 7:56am
Thanks Eugene! Any reason why it was abandonned? I mean, it seems to me (zero knowledge of instruments building) like a good way to get perfect binding... #With the great routing tools out there today, it would not be overly difficult to do...
Well, everybody else has beaten me to perfectly good answers. Voila.

mandopete
Oct-19-2004, 8:43am
David - that is going to be one cool looking mando, great wood!

John Bertotti
Oct-19-2004, 9:51am
1 the drawing is conception
2 the cutting out and carving is first trimester
3 the glueing up is second trimester
4 the finishing and stringing up is the third and final trimester.
4 the smacking of the bottom, so to say, the first notes is birth.
Enjoy your new bundle of joy and the luthiers sonagrams(pics).
John http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/tounge.gif

JeffS
Oct-19-2004, 3:16pm
[quote=gdae85,Oct. 19 2004, 08:25]
I was wondering, since the back and sides of a mando are usually the same wood (ie maple), would it be possible to carve a deep block of wood to produce a 1-piece back-and-sides mando, on which you only need to add the top?
I think Fender makes Thinline Telecasters that way. Would be a waste of wood for a mandolin or instument with a really high grade wood.

jmkatcher
Oct-19-2004, 3:28pm
I think that Rigels are made like that.

Michael Lewis
Oct-20-2004, 12:39am
The reasons this approach is not much used is that there isn't enough strength at the highly stressed neck and tail areas because it is short end grain, and this method leaves a rather heavy structure in order to have what little strength it does have. Rigel mandolins are made from a glued up rim to avoid the problem of the end grain. The top and back plates are glued to the rim.

levin4now
Oct-21-2004, 7:31am
gorgeous wood. I can't help but smile when I look at that first picture.

Lane Pryce
Oct-21-2004, 11:49am
Yeah I gotta agree that is sum killer maple. Imagine what it will look like with a nice varnish finish. Lp

berkeleymando
Oct-30-2004, 11:52am
On the topic of mandolin backs carved from a single piece of wood, I came across this link to a guy in PA who is having bowl back mandolins made in Bolivia out of "naranjillo" wood (which I have never heard of).

http://www.worldfrets.com/todaro_mandolin.html

I'd be interested to hear what you all think of this one piece back AND neck design. Has anyone played one of these? In the uke world some people say his akuleles are great.

RichM
Nov-01-2004, 8:39am
I take lessons with Joe Todaro, and I've played his prototype mandolin on many occasions. It's a tremendous instrument, very loud, full, and resonant. Very different from other bowlbacks I've tried!I also own one of Joe's carved ukuleles (the "Sweetheart" model you see on his webpage), which has a similarly full and well-charactered sound. In general, Joe's instruments are not status quo-- they are truly unique. Anybody visiting the Philadelphia area would do well to visit Joe's shop (Todaro's Music, in Lansdowne, PA, right outside the city) to try his fascinating assortment of world instruments.

Eugene
Nov-01-2004, 9:53am
It's a tremendous instrument, very loud, full, and resonant. Forget everything you know about bowlback mandolins!
But this is exactly what I do know about quality bowlback mandolins! #If your experience is different, you've been playing the wrong bowlbacks or have been playing the right bowlbacks wrong (i.e., expecting them to respond like archtop mandolins, which they are not).

RichM
Nov-01-2004, 10:34am
Well, my experiences *have* been different-- although I don't know why you feel the need to suggest that I am "wrong." Different people react to the same instruments differently. For that matter, I assume you've probably never played the Todaro mandolin, so I'm not sure where you draw your perspective from. In any case, I was merely trying to state that I found the Todaro mandolin to be a very good instrument and very different from other bowlbacks I've tried. Sorry this is different from your perspective, but it is entirely possible for two people to have different opinions without one of them having to be wrong.

Eugene
Nov-01-2004, 1:13pm
Well, my experiences *have* been different-- although I don't know why you feel the need to suggest that I am "wrong."
Actually, Rich, this was only intended to make my point with a little friendly ribbing. #Too bad you couldn't see my sly-but-friendly grin as I typed. #I don't hold so prescriptive a view of the mandolin world to ever suppose my views are "right" for anybody but me. I really intended this statement to be (at least slightly) humorous and intended no offense. I'm sorry if any was implied.

RichM
Nov-01-2004, 4:19pm
Hey, anybody who belongs to an ensemble called "Flute Cocktail" is okay with me!

Eugene
Nov-01-2004, 4:51pm
Ah the shame! When I joined, I suggested we change the name to "Flute of the Room." The undergarment reference didn't fly too well with the others.