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Thread: Starting a Bowlback

  1. #1

    Default Starting a Bowlback

    I've built a few simple instruments but I'm finally stretching myself and attempting a bowlback mandolin. I have a lot of wood working experience but this looks like a challenge.

    I used to take photographs of my projects but for the last few months I've been learning how to do video and so I've just finished the first video of some prep work that I've been doing. I fully expect this to take a while, but I'll keep this thread updated as I progress, and I gladly invite any advice along the way.

    TIA

    Paul M

    http://openwoodshop.com/instruments/mandolinprep1.php

  2. #2
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Starting a Bowlback

    This was for sale a few, well, maybe more than a few years back on eBay. Just another take on that form you're building.
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    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  3. #3
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Starting a Bowlback

    Paul: Interesting. Will you need to let those spruce pieces for the top air dry for any period of time?

    Here is your first video embedded for convenience:

    Jim

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  5. #4

    Default Re: Starting a Bowlback

    Thanks. This spruce is pretty old so it quite dry. Another instrument maker got it from another musical instrument maker and I am promised more if I want. I don't know how long it's been around.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeEdgerton View Post
    This was for sale a few, well, maybe more than a few years back on eBay. Just another take on that form you're building.
    In fact, my plans came from ebay.

  6. #5

    Default Re: Starting a Bowlback

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeEdgerton View Post
    This was for sale a few, well, maybe more than a few years back on eBay. Just another take on that form you're building.
    I made a form similar to that, but then decided to switch over to a type I found in the "Historical Lute Construction" book. I still have that form and may come back to it in the future. Or not.

    Paul M

  7. #6
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Starting a Bowlback

    A luthier in Connecticut showed me a bowlback form he acquired from the Martin factory. You could see the multiple pinholes in it to secure the ribs for gluing. That one was a solid bowl shape. I can't imagine that you could make one of the higher end bowlbacks with 40+ ribs using the other style pictured above.
    Jim

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  8. #7
    Mandolin tragic Graham McDonald's Avatar
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    Default Re: Starting a Bowlback

    Here are a couple of solid moulds as used by Lorenzo Lippi in Milan. This first one is for an Embergher Style 5. The neck is attached at one end and the tailblock at the other.

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    The second is a mould for a Maldura style mandolin with some of the ribs attached. This one looks as though it could be made from 1" MDF

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    This last one is an oddity that was in Fred Oster's shop in Philadelphia a few years back and came from possibly the Holzapfel factory in Baltimore. I suspect the individual wedge shaped segments could be used to both shape the ribs and form part of the mould,

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  10. #8

    Default Re: Starting a Bowlback

    Interesting pics sir. I got your book in the mail yesterday and am just settling down to a good read.

  11. #9
    Mandolin tragic Graham McDonald's Avatar
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    Default Re: Starting a Bowlback

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Montgomery View Post
    Interesting pics sir. I got your book in the mail yesterday and am just settling down to a good read.
    I hope you find the book useful. Feel free to get in contact if I can be of assistance.

    Next up is a book on building ukuleles!

    Cheers

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  13. #10

    Default Re: Starting a Bowlback

    So here is part 2 of the Bowlback Mandolin project. It only gets more interesting from here! Because this is the first one I'm still just working things out. I'm sure as time goes on I'll get more 'sophisticated' in my approach.

    The videos are a LOT more work than plain images like I used to do, but as long as people keep liking them - I'll keep making them.

    http://openwoodshop.com/instruments/mandolin2.php

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    Paul M

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