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Thread: My first mandolin

  1. #1

    Default My first mandolin

    I started this process in December 2017. So it's taken me over a year-and-a-half. A lot of people on this site have helped with a lot of good advice and support, so I am very appreciative for all of that.

    My goal throughout this process was to build an instrument that worked so that I could learn to play the mandolin. Yes, I'm one of those people who doesn't know how to play. But I taught myself how to build one, and now I'm going to teach myself how to play it.

    Despite its appearance (which I realize is VERY non-traditional), I've tuned it up and it sounds acceptable. So I'm looking forward to learning.

    I intentionally used run-of-the-mill maple and spruce because I figured I would ruin the wood. Truth be told, this is the third version of this mandolin, being that I DID ruin parts of it (initially the neck, which I threw out, and then the top plate, which I also threw out). So it's a good thing I wasn't using expensive, highly figured stock!

    My intent was to make something similar to a Gibson Jam Master in appearance: no sunburst (because I'm nowhere close to being able to produce that kind of finish), slightly dark coloring on the top. But unlike the Jam Master I wanted darker (like walnut or espresso) sides and back. Unfortunately the coloring on the back didn't work out, thus the "smoky" and blotched color job on there.

    For all its warts and imperfections and "off" details, the thing works. So I'm looking forward to learning to play while I build my next one...and the one after that...and the one after that...

    Mark
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    Last edited by putnamm; Jun-18-2019 at 11:38am.

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  3. #2

    Default Re: My first mandolin

    Better to make a functional instrument than a pretty wall hanger, like I have on several occasions. Nice work.

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  5. #3
    I may be old but I'm ugly billhay4's Avatar
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    Default Re: My first mandolin

    Ditto.
    Enjoy it.
    Bill
    IM(NS)HO

  6. #4

    Default Re: My first mandolin

    That is beautiful. Just out of curiosity, how much would you ask for if you decided to sell it.

  7. #5
    Registered User Doug Brock's Avatar
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    Default Re: My first mandolin

    Congratulations! I think it looks very nice - no need for apologies! I only wish I had the energy to take on such a big effort. Good luck now with learning to play!
    Doug Brock
    Eastman MD505, MD315
    Martin HD-28, D-18GE
    CA Guitars "Bluegrass Performer" (carbon fiber)

  8. #6

    Default Re: My first mandolin

    I just like everything about your mandolin, the finish to me is a highlight. I do think you should buy some nice wood. It doesn't have to be AAA flame. I'd suggest something that has been downgraded due to mineral deposits or other things viewed a flawed. That is to me more interesting. Get some adirondak spruce with a few lines running through it.

    I'm thinking about another build myself. There is something addictive in the process, plus I have a bunch of spool clamps.
    Silverangel A
    Michael Kelly LSFTB
    Arches F style kit
    1913 Gibson A-1

  9. #7
    Registered User
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    Default Re: My first mandolin

    Nothing to be ashamed about or apologize for. Nice job, you should be proud.

  10. #8
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    Default Re: My first mandolin

    Nice job! Better than my first for sure. I carved the top to thin and it eventually collapsed lol. Happy addiction bro ��

  11. #9

    Default Re: My first mandolin

    You made a working mandolin. You're certainly ahead of the curve.

    good job.
    Play it like you mean it.

  12. #10

    Default Re: My first mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by Loar Player View Post
    That is beautiful. Just out of curiosity, how much would you ask for if you decided to sell it.
    That thought has never even crossed my mind, honestly... It has a lot of imperfections. I could list them out for you but would run out of space. Maybe the only value it has is in its novelty?? There is definitely not another one like it.

  13. #11
    Some Ability - No Talent MikeZito's Avatar
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    Default Re: My first mandolin

    Nice work - congratulations!

  14. #12
    Registered User William Smith's Avatar
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    Default Re: My first mandolin

    Nice for a first build! You should've seen mine! Not pretty, terrible sounding did I mention very UGLY! Its scrapped now, the neck was the best part as it was a Stew-Mac kit neck-that's still good at least!

  15. #13

    Default Re: My first mandolin

    You have the same view of things as I did with my build. I purposely finished my mandolin in clear and light amber so I could fondly remember overcoming difficulties. Many areas of filler, multiple binding flaws, including backward on the headstock larger scroll. I have redwood filler strips where the binding channels were cut too wide, maybe eight inches in all, just a whole host of obvious to me screw ups.

    I've yet to have anyone point any of this out. I have pointed it out many times, because my fixes are almost the thing I'm proudest of. You are more likely to have someone ask you how did you get that great patina than something like better luck next time.

    It all just disappears into the background when someone whose opinion you value enjoys playing your mandolin.
    Silverangel A
    Michael Kelly LSFTB
    Arches F style kit
    1913 Gibson A-1

  16. #14

    Default Re: My first mandolin

    I think of those "imperfections" as character, they stand out and give the piece a personal feel.

  17. #15

    Default Re: My first mandolin

    just remember, its difficult to be born full grown
    Play it like you mean it.

  18. #16

    Default Re: My first mandolin

    Good for you. Take a lot of pride in your accomplishment.

    M&M

  19. #17
    two t's and one hyphen fatt-dad's Avatar
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    Default Re: My first mandolin

    it's like a Persian rug. Their value is shown by the imperfections. Otherwise, a machine made it!

    So cool that you built your own!

    f-d
    ˇpapá gordo ain’t no madre flaca!

    '20 A3, '30 L-1, '97 914, 2012 Cohen A5, 2012 Muth A5, '14 OM28A

  20. #18
    Mediocre but OK with that Paul Busman's Avatar
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    Default Re: My first mandolin

    I love it. That finish looks antique without a lot of bogus "distressing" marks. You can be proud of this!
    Excuse my asking, but are you sure it's set up properly? Since you don't play yet, you don't really know how well it plays. See if you can get some experienced players to give it a try and offer suggestions. A good setup is the key to making a mandolin playable. If you don't already have it,Cafe member Rob Meldrum has a free setup guide which is really excellent. Keep us posted as you learn to play.
    For wooden musical fun that doesn't involve strumming, check out:
    www.busmanwhistles.com
    Handcrafted pennywhistles in exotic hardwoods.

  21. #19
    Kelley Mandolins Skip Kelley's Avatar
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    Default Re: My first mandolin

    Nice work! I wish my first mandolin had looked that good!

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  23. #20
    Registered User Timbofood's Avatar
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    Default Re: My first mandolin

    Don’t be too hard on yourself, you had the desire to build, that is laudable!
    I’d like to see another shot of the peghead, the shape looks far nicer than I’ve seen on many others let alone a first instrument.
    You were wise to use “reasonable” material for your first one as well, the next will be better and number 3 will give you a smile, as big as you can imagine.
    Enjoy it!
    Timothy F. Lewis
    "If brains was lard, that boy couldn't grease a very big skillet" J.D. Clampett

  24. #21

    Default Re: My first mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Busman View Post
    I love it. That finish looks antique without a lot of bogus "distressing" marks. You can be proud of this!
    Excuse my asking, but are you sure it's set up properly? Since you don't play yet, you don't really know how well it plays. See if you can get some experienced players to give it a try and offer suggestions. A good setup is the key to making a mandolin playable. If you don't already have it,Cafe member Rob Meldrum has a free setup guide which is really excellent. Keep us posted as you learn to play.
    Paul, thanks for the suggestion. I want to do just that. I found a music shop that gives lessons near my house, and they have an experienced mandolin player/teacher. I'm going to ask him to give it a try. Thanks!

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