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Thread: Help with IV mandolin kit

  1. #1

    Default Help with IV mandolin kit

    I ordered an F-hole A style mandolin kit from International Violin about 10 years ago and am just looking at starting it. I have three questions for the experts out there.
    1. The two soundboard braces look exactly like the bass bars you would install in a violin except they appear to go on both the treble and bass sides. Is that correct? Is that sufficient bracing or would you add a crosspiece?
    2. The neck doesn't go all the way to the bottom so I'm assuming it needs to be fitted by removing material from the slot in the neck block until you get a super tight fit (like you would do on a violin).
    3. There appears to be holes drilled in both the bottom side of the neck and the sides of the neck block for some sort of retaining pins. There are two short dowel pieces in the kit but their diameter is way too large for this purpose. Is this for the pins? Or do you have to make some?
    Lastly (question 4), would you use hot hide glue for the top so that it could be taken apart later or just stick with something like Titebond 3?
    Sorry to reference a violin so much. I have built 4 violins but never a mandolin. I appreciate the fact that string tension is much greater in the mandolin and therefore much more force is exerted on the top.
    Thanks in advance! Dan.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Help with IV mandolin kit

    Hi Dan, mandolins have two tone bars and no cross piece, also the tone bars are not perfectly centered. The neck joint will need to be worked until it fits to the bottom, the holes in the neck and block are for those dowel rods, they lock the neck in place. You can sand the dowel down a little bit to get it to fit. You can use hide glue if you’re quick enough. On my IV kit I used tight bond red label
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  3. #3

    Default Re: Help with IV mandolin kit

    Dan, did your kit come with instructions? If not, or if they're lost, reach out to International Violin and get a set. Admittedly, the instructions are pretty minimal, but they will answer a lot of your questions (including all in your post).

    BTW, IV also sells the Siminoff book on building a mandolin. I found it very helpful in building my first.
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  4. #4
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help with IV mandolin kit

    You might want to see if you can get a copy of Roger Siminoff's book The Ultimate Bluegrass Mandolin Construction Manual. This is a link to one on eBay used. NFI. You can look for one used or you could place a Wanted ad in the Classifieds. You're asking a pretty basic question and this should give you all you need to know.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Help with IV mandolin kit

    Quote Originally Posted by Jacob Hagerty View Post
    Hi Dan, mandolins have two tone bars and no cross piece, also the tone bars are not perfectly centered. The neck joint will need to be worked until it fits to the bottom, the holes in the neck and block are for those dowel rods, they lock the neck in place. You can sand the dowel down a little bit to get it to fit. You can use hide glue if you’re quick enough. On my IV kit I used tight bond red label
    Thanks! That's what I need to know. I'll try to find a picture of the bracing for an f-hole mandolin otherwise I'll just place them about 1/4' inside the f-hole and more or less parallel to each other. I'm assuming slightly moved to the wide bout as I imagine most of the tension will be there. Dan.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Help with IV mandolin kit

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeEdgerton View Post
    You might want to see if you can get a copy of Roger Siminoff's book The Ultimate Bluegrass Mandolin Construction Manual. This is a link to one on eBay used. NFI. You can look for one used or you could place a Wanted ad in the Classifieds. You're asking a pretty basic question and this should give you all you need to know.
    I've got that book and haven't found it useful for this kit. I also a book called the Mandolin Project which I like a lot. Unfortunately neither book has a bracing pattern/location for an f-hole mandolin so, unless I can find one, I'll probably do it like I would a violin.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Help with IV mandolin kit

    Quote Originally Posted by Chinn View Post
    Dan, did your kit come with instructions? If not, or if they're lost, reach out to International Violin and get a set. Admittedly, the instructions are pretty minimal, but they will answer a lot of your questions (including all in your post).

    BTW, IV also sells the Siminoff book on building a mandolin. I found it very helpful in building my first.
    Thanks, I'll email Ken but if I remember correctly it was stated that no instructions were included. That was from the 2009 IV cataloge which is the one I ordered from. 10 years ago! Guess I wasn't in any hurry.

  8. #8
    Registered User John Bertotti's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help with IV mandolin kit

    Just order a set of F style prints, even if they aren't exactly to your kit they will give you the general idea of where things need to go and a starting point for most everything else.
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  9. #9

    Default Re: Help with IV mandolin kit

    Quote Originally Posted by John Bertotti View Post
    Just order a set of F style prints, even if they aren't exactly to your kit they will give you the general idea of where things need to go and a starting point for most everything else.
    Great idea! I found some on Siminovs web page but get a 404 error when I try to order them. StuMac has some F style plans. Since, through this thread, I learned they were called tone bars, I have found some pictures of the bracing installed. I should be able to come up with an approximation with those. The bass bar in a violin is a difficult task but I have done 4. I used chalk to get an exact fit.

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  11. #10
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help with IV mandolin kit

    Quote Originally Posted by yancypup View Post
    I've got that book and haven't found it useful for this kit. I also a book called the Mandolin Project which I like a lot. Unfortunately neither book has a bracing pattern/location for an f-hole mandolin so, unless I can find one, I'll probably do it like I would a violin.
    That's surprising as dozens of members over the years have used that book when building these Saga kits. The kit is actually a Saga AM-10 mandolin kit. The instructions are in a PDF in this thread.

    Specifically this message.

    Roger Siminoff retired a while back. Many pages on his site are no longer available.
    Last edited by MikeEdgerton; Sep-01-2019 at 9:01pm.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  12. #11

    Default Re: Help with IV mandolin kit

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeEdgerton View Post
    That's surprising as dozens of members over the years have used that book when building these Saga kits. The kit is actually a Saga AM-10 mandolin kit. The instructions are in a PDF in this thread.

    Specifically this message.

    Roger Siminoff retired a while back. Many pages on his site are no longer available.

    Wow! Thanks! That is exactly what I need! I'll have to do some research on graduating the top, perhaps the Simonoff book will help. It will be a bit awkward given that the rib assembly is already glued to the top but I guess it could be done. Past experience with removing the top of Chinese violins tells me I probably don't want to do it. I don't know what glue they use but it surely isn't hide glue. I haven't found a way to remove it other than scraping (for glue that has overspread onto the ribs). Do you know if anyone has assembled one of these without graduating the top? If so, how was the sound?

  13. #12
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help with IV mandolin kit

    Quote Originally Posted by yancypup View Post
    ...Do you know if anyone has assembled one of these without graduating the top? If so, how was the sound?
    I'm sure they have and I don't know, perhaps someone can chime in. I'll note there are two sides to that top that material can be removed from.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  14. #13

    Default Re: Help with IV mandolin kit

    When I received my IV kit for an A style mandolin, I got a couple of pages of instructions. They are pretty minimal, but in it there is information on where to place the tone bars by measuring, etc. It was better than the Siminoff book in that respect. I used the Siminoff book as much as I could, but it still left me using the sketchy instructions that came with the kit for some parts of the build.

  15. #14

    Default Re: Help with IV mandolin kit

    That's kind of how it was for me. The Simonoff book looks great if you are starting a build from scratch but not so useful if you have a kit. I should say that I didn't read the whole thing.

  16. #15

    Default Re: Help with IV mandolin kit

    I graduated my top pretty closely to the Siminoff plans. I found the book pretty useful.
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  17. #16

    Default Re: Help with IV mandolin kit

    Thanks!

  18. #17
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    Default Re: Help with IV mandolin kit

    Quote Originally Posted by yancypup View Post
    Thanks!
    Maybe one of the folks who got the siminoff book and didn't like it will sell you their copy... I used that book for my first three F style mando builds... very helpful, but getting a set of Loar blueprints also helped immeasurably in locating tone bars and graduation of tops/backs.

  19. #18

    Default Re: Help with IV mandolin kit

    Thanks Karl, I have a copy already. I just need to read it more carefully.

  20. #19

    Default Re: Help with IV mandolin kit

    The neck joint can be worked by getting some carbon or graphite paper and inserting it between the neck and block. I'd remove material from the neck, not the block. You will get a smudge where the wood is making contact. Use this for the tone bars and when fitting the bridge too.
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  21. #20

    Default Re: Help with IV mandolin kit

    Bracing, in my small sample, is variable. One bar, two, crosspiece. Whatever. I’ve started looking inside since my current mandolin to mandola effort seems to need a crosspiece up near the neck to correct an issue which I’ll forward if my solution appears to work. I’d imagine the least bracing sounds best and is weakest.

  22. #21

    Default Re: Help with IV mandolin kit

    I learned to do the same thing with white chalk (sidewalk chalk) to fit violin necks and bass bars. Thought I'd do the same with the mandolin.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Thanks Richard!

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