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About belbein

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About belbein
Born. Wrote. Studied. Married. Practiced law. Raised children. Wrote & practiced some more. Found banjo. Found mandolin. Wrote some more. Played some more. Retired and went back to work for the love of the thing. Will eventually shuffle off this mortal coil, probably in 6/8 time and in the key of D.
Atlanta, GA
Building, playing & writing
Attorney, non-luthier, writer



The bad news is that what doesn't kill us makes us stronger. The good news is that what kills us makes it no longer our problem


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Jan-05-2022 3:29pm
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Recent Entries

Successful failure

by belbein on May-25-2020 at 10:52am
Today I gave up an almost eight-year long project. I am disappointed to decide that I should not complete it. But though it will remain inned. Incomplete but not a failure.

Eight years ago I wondered: what would a small, guitar-body octave mandolin be like? I love my full-size octave mandolin, and Iíve always loved the guitar body shape. So I set out to determine whether I could build a small size guitar body octave mandolin. The least expensive way to do it was to buy a tenor

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Why I Refuse to Play for People

by belbein on Nov-07-2016 at 1:18pm
"Hey, will you play something for us?" That's often what people say when they walk into my house and see the mandolins and banjos hanging on the wall, the guitars leaning up against a bookshelf, the shelves of music ...

My answer is always the same: a resounding "NO."

With a follow up: "I'll play if you play, too." And I point out that I have stringed instruments, recorders, kazoos, drums, and even soup pots and wooden spoons. They

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Kits vs. Scratch Builds--to start?

by belbein on May-31-2015 at 9:49am
There's a continuum that runs from buying a mandolin someone else built, through kits, and over to cutting down a tree. And kits are along the near-buying-ready-made end of the spectrum. All that's true.

And it's certainly true that people who cut down the trees and mill the lumber and then cut and plane the lumber and then get out their fingerplanes to further plane down the wood etc ... you guys are pretty damn impressive woodworkers.

But it's also true that

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