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Thread: Rosewood Mandolins?

  1. #1
    Registered User red7flag's Avatar
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    Default Rosewood Mandolins?

    Lately I have been drawn to looking at Martin rosewood mandolins. I am curious why rosewood is not used on more mandolin family builds. I would be interested hearing the reasons both from builders and consumers. After my success with the Nyberg (paduak being similar to rosewood in both look (although red) and sound, I am considering working with a builder to make a rosewood mandolin. Are there any restrictions as far as design or build? Is there a reason that most Martin mandolins are cantilevered? Is there a builder or design that you guys would recommend? I do realize that there are CITES issues. The instrument would not be used for grass. Thanks for any input.
    Last edited by red7flag; Aug-30-2017 at 8:49am. Reason: Another Thought
    Tony Huber
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    Front Porch & Sweet Tea NursingDaBlues's Avatar
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    Default Re: Rosewood Mandolins?

    I really enjoy my 1919 Martin Style C. It’s an instrument I tend to get lost in – especially when I play old Bessie Smith or Billie Holiday songs.

    I suppose there can be many reasons that rosewood isn’t used more: unless a person is a very accomplished, controlling the overtones and sustain might be challenging. And among the traditionalists, it’s not made of maple and so won’t have that bluegrass voice. YMMV.

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  4. #3
    Registered User red7flag's Avatar
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    Default Re: Rosewood Mandolins?

    Quote Originally Posted by NursingDaBlues View Post
    I really enjoy my 1919 Martin Style C. It’s an instrument I tend to get lost in – especially when I play old Bessie Smith or Billie Holiday songs.

    I suppose there can be many reasons that rosewood isn’t used more: unless a person is a very accomplished, controlling the overtones and sustain might be challenging. And among the traditionalists, it’s not made of maple and so won’t have that bluegrass voice. YMMV.
    I have been listening to Martins playing Irish/English folk music and the combination is awesome to me. The fullness of the tones and sustain is what attracts me.
    Tony Huber
    1930 Martin Style C #14783
    2011 Mowry GOM
    2013 Hester F4 #31
    2014 Ellis F5 #322
    2017 Collings MT2-O #3666
    2017 Nyberg Mandola #172

  5. #4

    Default Re: Rosewood Mandolins?

    I've used a lot of woods similar to rosewood. Wenge, padauk, bubinga, sapele, ziricote, etc. I love all that stuff, just have to be sure I have fresh cartridges for my respirator and dust mask before working with it.
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  7. #5

    Default Re: Rosewood Mandolins?

    I have played a Stan Miller F with rosewood back and sides that was awesome. Check out Reischman playing a Stan Miller rosewood mandola on the Harmonic Tone Revealers recording. I really like the sound of that 'dola.

    Rich

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  9. #6

    Default Re: Rosewood Mandolins?

    Red7flag, Stan's website still mentions rosewood as an option for back and sides. I'm not sure if he is taking orders right now but if you are looking for a builder I think he should be on your list.

    http://www.millermandolins.com/Order.htm

    Rich

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  11. #7
    Registered User red7flag's Avatar
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    Default Re: Rosewood Mandolins?

    Thanks Rich. I checked out his site. Will give him a call.
    Tony Huber
    1930 Martin Style C #14783
    2011 Mowry GOM
    2013 Hester F4 #31
    2014 Ellis F5 #322
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    I may be old but I'm ugly billhay4's Avatar
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    Default Re: Rosewood Mandolins?

    James Condino builds some very nice rosewood mandos.
    Bill
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    wood butcher Spruce's Avatar
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    Default Re: Rosewood Mandolins?

    Quote Originally Posted by red7flag View Post
    I do realize that there are CITES issues.
    Brazilian galore...








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    Default !

    I have a Martin Style A (which is mahogany B/S, not RW), and it's a lot of fun to play, though I prefer the tone of my Flatiron 1N. The 13 inch scale length is very workable, but does take a little adjustment at first. It's a very well made little box, and I'm going to change strings soon and see what that does for its tone.

    I can't speak informatively about why Martin chose to cantilever most of their mandolins, but suspect it was easier for them to incorporate into their factory production than a carved top/back would have been. I would love to be corrected if someone has more accurate information.

    I'm a rosewood fan as well, and wouldn't hesitate to buy a RW mandolin that spoke to me. That said, we mandolineers tend to be a fairly traditional lot, which I think results in the majority of mandolins being made of spruce/maple.

    Marty, beautiful work, man!
    Chuck

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  18. #11
    Registered User red7flag's Avatar
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    Default Re: Rosewood Mandolins?

    Could some one describe the difference between the different styles, A, B, and C? Thanks
    Tony Huber
    1930 Martin Style C #14783
    2011 Mowry GOM
    2013 Hester F4 #31
    2014 Ellis F5 #322
    2017 Collings MT2-O #3666
    2017 Nyberg Mandola #172

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    Default Re: Rosewood Mandolins?

    FWIW, rosewood bowls are common in bowlback instruments. Walnut has also been seen.

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    Default Re: Rosewood Mandolins?

    I played a Chestnut A-style mando this past weekend with rosewood back and sides. It had really pretty tone for slower tunes. I felt like it lacked some 'cut' for a jam or band situation thought and not a huge chop. It was fun to play around with, but not for me in general.
    Drew
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  22. #14
    Registered User nmiller's Avatar
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    Default Re: Rosewood Mandolins?

    Quote Originally Posted by red7flag View Post
    Could some one describe the difference between the different styles, A, B, and C? Thanks
    Among Martins? A has mahogany back/sides and the simplest decoration. B on up through E have rosewood back/sides with increasing trim. Cs are fairly uncommon, but Ds and Es are quite rare.
    www.OldFrets.com: the obscure side of vintage instruments.

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  24. #15
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    Default Re: Rosewood Mandolins?

    Quote Originally Posted by red7flag View Post
    Could some one describe the difference between the different styles, A, B, and C? Thanks
    From what I have read, Martin produced flatback mandolins designated from Styles A to E. I believe Styles A and B were available in mahogany B&S or Koa B&S. Style C has Adirondack spruce top with Brazilian rosewood back and sides, a bound ebony fingerboard with diamond and wheat seed inlays, abalone pearl inlays and rosette, tortoiseshell pickguard, engraved tailpiece cover, engraved four-on-a-plate tuners, and Martin stamp on the back of the peghead. I think all the styles had Adirondack tops, but that should be verified. I really donít know anything about the detailing on models other than the Style C.

    Here's a video of a Martin mandolin in action.


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  26. #16
    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Default Re: Rosewood Mandolins?

    Because Selmer made Guitars that D'jango played, with a Indian Rosewood and Mahogany Veneer Laminated for back & sides ,

    The D'jangolin I got, made by David Hodson , who also made the guitar replicas, also used that material for building mine.
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  27. #17
    Registered User red7flag's Avatar
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    Default Re: Rosewood Mandolins?

    Since nobody bit on the Martin bent top, this was to provide the angle that the raised fretboard provides for the F or A5s.?
    Tony Huber
    1930 Martin Style C #14783
    2011 Mowry GOM
    2013 Hester F4 #31
    2014 Ellis F5 #322
    2017 Collings MT2-O #3666
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  28. #18
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Rosewood Mandolins?

    My SWAG (Scientific Wild-A*sed Guess) is that Martin took the basic technique used for their bowl-back mandolins, which featured the bent top, and applied it to the flat-back mandolins they started building in the 19-teens.

    According to Mike Longworth's Martin Guitars: A History, Martin made flat-back, bent-top mandolins in styles A through E, starting in 1914. At first, all styles had rosewood sides and back. In 1917, Style A and B went to mahogany sides and back; in 1920, koa variants (Style AK and BK) were offered. Style C was fancier, as detailed above, with engraved hardware and more mother-of-pearl, and it included the cut-out headstock that some higher-end Martin bowl-backs featured. Style D, only made for three years 1914-17, had MOP binding around the top (similar to Martin's 41, 42 and 45 series guitars), and Style E had MOP binding front and back, inlaid tuners, and cost $100 when a Style A cost $15.

    Martin only made the Style C until 1937; total production was 370, and the last Style C was made of maple rather than rosewood. Only seven Style D's were made, five in 1915, two in 1917, and 62 Style E's, the last in 1929. These would be "rare birds" indeed.

    Lots of bowl-backs were made of rosewood, and the "bass emphasis" we expect from a rosewood back-and-sides guitar apparently didn't extend to them. The only non-bowlback rosewood mando-family instrument I own is short-scale (21 inches) Sobell I've strung as a mandola, with a light gauge string set of guitar singles. Is it different sounding from a "standard" maple mandola? Sure 'tis, but it's also much bigger-bodied, longer-scaled, a whole different design.

    It's chancy to generalize from one or two experiences; rosewood mandolins aren't common enough to establish a "pattern," IMHO. I'd say, if you want to commission one, find a good luthier who's interested in doing it, and take a shot.
    Last edited by allenhopkins; Aug-30-2017 at 3:45pm.
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  30. #19
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    Default Re: Rosewood Mandolins?

    I have Austin Clark #33. It has EIR back and sides with engleman top, mahogany neck and full figured Koa binding. There was a discussion about it here in the forum back in 2008. It cuts in a jam and has a brighter tone than I expected. Really, really nice! Austin is without a doubt one of my favorite builders, a great guy to work with, and his instruments just keep getting better.

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  32. #20
    Registered User nmiller's Avatar
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    Default Re: Rosewood Mandolins?

    Quote Originally Posted by allenhopkins View Post
    In 1917, Style A and B went to mahogany sides and back; in 1920, koa variants (Style AK and BK) were offered.
    Quote Originally Posted by NursingDaBlues View Post
    I believe Styles A and B were available in mahogany B&S or Koa B&S.
    There were A-K and B-K models made of koa with the same trim as the A and B, but they were listed as separate models. The Style B was not available with mahogany, only rosewood. While the Style A nominally had rosewood for the first couple of years, all the ones I've seen from that period were mahogany.
    www.OldFrets.com: the obscure side of vintage instruments.

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  34. #21
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Rosewood Mandolins?

    Quote Originally Posted by nmiller View Post
    ...The Style B was not available with mahogany, only rosewood...
    I stand corrected.
    Allen Hopkins
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  35. #22
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    Default Re: Rosewood Mandolins?

    Quote Originally Posted by allenhopkins View Post
    I stand corrected.
    Me, too

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  37. #23

    Default Re: Rosewood Mandolins?

    JD, I believe we were in a jam together at Wintergrass this past Feb. Your Clark mando sounded terrific.

  38. #24
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    Default Re: Rosewood Mandolins?

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    Here is Clark #33. https://youtu.be/qh6OU6l7Rlc
    Not the best rec. quality but you get the idea.

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    Default Re: Rosewood Mandolins?

    Quote Originally Posted by rich9236 View Post
    JD, I believe we were in a jam together at Wintergrass this past Feb. Your Clark mando sounded terrific.
    You played the Miller A and sang duets...memorable jam! I was in contact with Stan recently and he said he was taking a break from building for the time being.

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