View Full Version : Spira Mandola Finished!

Dec-09-2003, 7:56pm
Jack sent photos of the instrument with all but the strap buttons finished. Serious salivation going on here while I wait for it's arrival next week.


Dec-09-2003, 7:58pm

Dec-09-2003, 8:00pm

Dec-09-2003, 8:02pm

Dec-09-2003, 8:03pm

Dec-09-2003, 8:05pm
last for now 'till I get it in my hands.

Dec-09-2003, 8:09pm
Nice Australian Blackwood http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/wink.gif , nice details,nice finish, just plain nice!

Dec-09-2003, 8:27pm
gorgeous- that koa thatch grain is just spectacular. congrats. let us know how she plays.

John Millring
Dec-09-2003, 8:50pm
I can't wait to hear it!! It's sure a stunner. I'll have to buy Shenk's new koa guitar so we can properly duet.:D

Dec-09-2003, 9:14pm
If the "koa" you're all referring to is the fretboard and peghead veneer, it's actually "figured ring gidgee" from Australia, like the rest of the wood in the instrument. Jack says the stuff is actually harder than ebony. If you're referring to the back and sides, it's Australian Blackwood. I don't know if it's related to koa or not.

The "Shenk" John referred to above is Jim Shenk of Wooden Music in Goshen, IN. Jim's a very talented woodworker/luthier who builds incredible guitars and his mandolins keep getting better and better. Remember this name, folks... I may someday regret I didn't "buy local".

Life's pretty good in smalltown Goshen...

-Phil #http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif

Jim M.
Dec-09-2003, 11:35pm
That's beautiful. I'll bet it will sound great in duets with your Old Wave, but who will play it with you. Spurs my Mandola Acq. Syndrome, for sure.

Dec-11-2003, 2:29pm
Super sweeeeeeet

Who is the luthier?

Dec-11-2003, 2:53pm
I have a question: See how the back of the neck curls out where it connects with the back of the headstock? This is kinda like a violin. What is the proper term for this design, if there is one?

Very nice, by the way!

Dec-11-2003, 5:56pm
I tried to find a web site for Jim Shenk a while back and didn't come up with anything. Does he have one?.....Gary

Dec-11-2003, 10:37pm
Halfdeadhippie, you can see much more "eye candy" at Jack Spira's website. (http://jackspiraguitars.com/) Jack's been wonderful to work with from the very beginning - excellent service. I got to play Dolamon's Spira mandola and was very, very impressed with the incredible presence of his instrument. I'm trying to be patient, here...

Gary, click HERE (jrhshaenk@earthlink.net) to send Jim Shenk a message. Jim's a very laid back guy who's been building up to working as a full time luthier for the last several years. He used to work full-time as a high-end cabinet maker. He once told me his former co-workers thought he was nuts because he paid close attention to the sound of the wood in his furniture. Jim's built many a fine guitar and has been building more carved top mandolins (F, A, w/oval or f-holes) as well flat-top octaves in the last couple of years. They're getting better and better and sound pretty amazing. Very affordable for now. Be aware that he may be out of the country over the holidays and may not be responding to email for a while.


Dec-12-2003, 7:38am
Thx PhilGE, I had heard a couple of his mandos on WVPE a while back. A local bluegrass band had a couple of his mandos. Sounded good.

Dec-16-2003, 8:37pm
It's here! Shipping went very fast and very smooth. It was waiting for me at work by noon, Monday. I waited 4 hours to open the case after opening the boxes to let it warm up. And it is "warming up!" It has a very big sound. This is not your classic Gibson sound, but the first person besides me who hear it said, "wow, that's amazing". I don't think I'll have any problems being heard in a group. As Dolamon referred to his, it's almost like a resonator in volume. It's very bright right now with phosphor bronze strings. I'll experiment other strings for sound/tone variety. Will report back further over time and try and post a sound clip as I get used to it and can give better perspective... For now, family matters call - and playing the 'dola comes immediately after that. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif

Oh, and it looks so much better in person I won't try and explain right now. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif


Bob DeVellis
Dec-17-2003, 9:37am
Lee957 -- I've usually heard the ridge at the back boundary of the headstock and neck referred to as a thumb-stop.

Dec-18-2003, 12:28am

Above is a link to a poor sample of this instrument's huge sound. It's very weird to play my mandolin after this. Not bad, but very strange. I swapped out the .18 steel D's with .21 wound phoshor bronze D's and it's really come to life.


Dec-27-2003, 11:00pm

Sounds great! That sounds like "John Brown's March" right?

I got the tabs for that and started practicing. Your mandola is awesome! Beautiful in sound and visuals! The sound feels "big" on the MP3. Congrats!

Dec-28-2003, 5:54pm
Bob, thanks! John Brown's March seems to work well to test out the tonal range of the instrument - from bass to treble. By the way, I edited the link above to it's an active hyperlink - no need to copy and paste.

Since last post I had the nut adjusted and put .48s on for Cs instead of .46s. This deepens the bass a bit and the increased tension helps the Cs play under my fingers more easily - less unintentional bending of the notes.

Still enjoying the heck out of it.


Dec-28-2003, 7:46pm
Congrats, that is one of the nicest and best sounding instruments I've ever seen and heard. I don't mind saying I'm quite envious, ENJOY. Happy New Year.


Dec-29-2003, 12:44am
Teh hyperlink crashes and wont come up. tried to figure it out but could nt

Dec-29-2003, 10:01am
Hmmm... it worked for me just now. Anyone else having this problem? Please try again, Bob.

You could try THIS LINK (http://homepage.mac.com/philg2/.Music/JBMBigD.mp3), too.


Dec-31-2003, 4:33pm
I just posted a photo album of my Spira Mandola HERE. (http://homepage.mac.com/philg2/SpiraPix/PhotoAlbum19.html)


Dec-31-2003, 5:37pm
It's called a "volute".


Jan-25-2004, 12:26am
One month after it's arrival, the mandola continues to draw double takes for it's looks and craftmanship first, then it's sound. A friend was playing melody on it earlier today at a small jam and I had no problem hearing it from across a large market space over the rhythm instruments and background sounds. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif


Jan-25-2004, 1:19am
It looks great and sounds better. You did well!

John Millring
Jan-25-2004, 8:02am
I had the pleasure of playing this charmer yesterday.

The craftsmanship is flawless, the sound rich, full, open, and amazing. The playbility is comfortable with only the furthest reaches as challenginig stretches.

The woods look even better in person. The back is lustrous.

(a p.s. to the guy who heard Shenk's mando's on the radio -- that's Lukas Simpson on an f-hole A (maple/spruce) and Jay Lapp on an f-hole F (same woods -- exceptional selection though). These young, energetic guys are just a pleasure to jam with. They've developed a very pleasing repertoire of harmony voclas, some nice quirky instrumentals (Jay usually doing guitar duties) and Lukas is a virtual human metronome on rhythm mando -- a delight to take a lead with. They've teamed up with one of the area's better young fiddlers -- look for them to be playing in the N. IN, S. MI area. I doubt you'll be disappointed)

Feb-27-2004, 11:48pm
Hey Phil, thanks for all your kind words!! I hope the mandola sound warms up nicley for you. I dont know if others agree, I find that sitka spruce tends to be fairly bright to start with, but once it warms up, in its own time, it retains a fair bit of edge to the attack, retaining a nice sparkle when its played in.
That carved bit on the back of the head/neck join (I didnt know it was called a volute!) is there partly to give a bit of form to the head/neck join, but mainly to add strength to a very narrow bit of wood under a lot of stress!
Oh and thanks for introducing me to the mandolin cafe! what a brilliant site!
Jack Spira