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Thread: A new prototype mandolin

  1. #1
    Mandolin tragic Graham McDonald's Avatar
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    Default A new prototype mandolin

    One of my projects over the next year or so is building a mandolin quartet, maybe even a couple. I am not sure what is going to happen to them once they are built, but we will see what happens. I have been playing around with a design idea much inspired by guitars built by the wonderful Claudio and Claudia Pagelli in Switzerland. (I did write and seek permission and they have not said no). Here are some pics of the first prototype mandolin. Englemann spruce and some plain European maple with a subtle amber shaded sunburst finish. Ebony fingerboard and head overlay with tortoise celluloid binding. The neck is bolted on from outside, using an M4 threaded insert in the back of the neck block and a socket head bolt through the heel. My wife suggests that it looks like something from The Jetsons and it was that 50s jazz LP cover vibe which attracted me to the design in the first place.

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  3. #2
    Registered User Mike Romkey's Avatar
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    Default Re: A new prototype mandolin

    Interesting. What are the pros and cons on a bolt-on neck?
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  4. #3

    Default Re: A new prototype mandolin

    Really cool, Graham. IMHO, the tailpiece looks out of place though--needs something more modern to fit with the rest of the design.
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  6. #4

    Default Re: A new prototype mandolin

    I'm a classicist who usually hates modern instrument design. But this grabs me. It just looks right. And cool. And lasting. All the good stuff. I would run with it and run hard.

  7. #5

    Default Re: A new prototype mandolin

    Very cool!
    " Give me some words I can dance to and a melody that rhymes" - Steve Goodman

  8. #6

    Default Re: A new prototype mandolin

    Interesting Graham, thanks for sharing. Is it possible to share an audio file?

  9. #7
    Mandolin tragic Graham McDonald's Avatar
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    Default Re: A new prototype mandolin

    Pros and cons of a bolt on neck. The Pro is that your can take the neck off and adjust the angle and if it was a bit more sophisticated the overstand as well. The main Con is that you can see the bolt that holds it on. The number of bolt-on necks on guitars shows pretty conclusively that there is no appreciable acoustic downside, though I am sure there are those who will disagree.

    I agree with Don about the tailpiece. The asymmetry of the body means it has to be clumsily attached and the next one will have one held by a vertical pin through the tailblock that will be self-centering and be adjustable for height.

    It is an evolving project. While the body is the same 10" width of a standard A model I think the enclosed air volume might be less and that would tend to push up the body air resonance. The basic ring-mode tap-tones of the soundboard and back were about what I aim for and they were quite closely matched. One of the family remarked that the body looked smaller than usual and it might work visually and acoustically 1/4" or so wider and longer. Here is a pic of the mandolin side by side with an A style I made last year.

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    Registered User Steve Sorensen's Avatar
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    Default Re: A new prototype mandolin

    Super cool!
    Impressive.
    Steve

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    Registered User John Soper's Avatar
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    Default Re: A new prototype mandolin

    Graham - I always like to see non-traditional design elements and this is a real looker. Agree with the comments about the tailpiece, but that is an easy fix. Would love to hear a sound sample!

  13. #10
    Registered User Bob Clark's Avatar
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    Default Re: A new prototype mandolin

    I really like it. I hope it sounds as good as it looks, because it sure looks fine!
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  14. #11

    Default Re: A new prototype mandolin

    Nice - keep up the good work!

  15. #12

    Default Re: A new prototype mandolin

    That mandolin looks fantastic - Modern styling but not completely detached from tradition. Love the sloped shoulders and cutaway.
    Your family member mentioned making it 1/4” wider and longer.... from the pics, I would say deeper instead? Body depth looks more like my pancake than my F mandolin (relative to the neck size)... or is that just an aspect of a Jazz mando that I don’t know about?

    Really eager to hear how it sounds!

  16. #13
    Kelley Mandolins Skip Kelley's Avatar
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    Default Re: A new prototype mandolin

    Graham, that mandolin is awesome! I love your style! When I was playing out a lot, I usually had some one refer to my mandolin as a “little bitty gee-tar”. That would fit the bill nicely!

  17. #14
    Registered User tree's Avatar
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    Default Re: A new prototype mandolin

    LOVE the Jetsons/50s jazz vibe! I can't wait to see the mandocello with the new tailpiece design, whenever that is completed.
    Clark Beavans

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    Default Re: A new prototype mandolin

    I totally dig the vibe this one is putting off. I wonder how it would look with some jazz box colors like red or blue or green. I also agree on the tailpiece design change but, you work with what's on hand as you develop, eh? Great look, Graham!

    Jamie
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    Registered User bbcee's Avatar
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    Default Re: A new prototype mandolin

    Along with the previous comments (I also think a different tailpiece will suit it better), the color of the burst is just perfect for the aesthetic. Great to see designs stretching past the norm.

  20. #17
    Registered User Rick Jones's Avatar
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    Default Re: A new prototype mandolin

    I love it also. Slightly reminiscent of a modernized Maccaferri-style design, which I also love. Would love to hear this one!
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  21. #18
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    Default Re: A new prototype mandolin

    Graham, you've made me realize that I can really get into something with a non-traditional look. You're on the right path. Looking forward to seeing more.
    "If your memories exceed your dreams, you have begun to die." - Anonymous

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  22. #19
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    Default Re: A new prototype mandolin

    Nice, but maybe a lightly glued plug over the bolt would be a bit better, my taste anyway.
    Play it like you mean it

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  24. #20
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    Default Re: A new prototype mandolin

    Great looking, you may be able to incorporate a strap button into the screw for the neck so it is not noticeable. I don't mind the screw, and don't usually like strap buttons there. In this case it would hide the bolt on for those that don't like it, and do double duty for a strap
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  25. #21
    Mandolin tragic Graham McDonald's Avatar
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    Default Re: A new prototype mandolin

    Some audio, courtesy of my friend Tony Hunter https://soundcloud.com/graham-mcdona...-times-thunter

    The tune seemed appropriate.

    Recorded on a Zoom H1n

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  27. #22
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    Default Re: A new prototype mandolin

    Sounds really nice, and I love the shape of that instrument.

    As for size, I think the cutaway there allows for a 12 fret body join with gives a bit of freedom to the body dimensions and sound holes. My own feeling anyway.
    Play it like you mean it

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  28. #23
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: A new prototype mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by Graham McDonald View Post
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    Quote Originally Posted by Graham McDonald View Post
    Pros and cons of a bolt on neck. The Pro is that your can take the neck off and adjust the angle and if it was a bit more sophisticated the overstand as well. The main Con is that you can see the bolt that holds it on. The number of bolt-on necks on guitars shows pretty conclusively that there is no appreciable acoustic downside, though I am sure there are those who will disagree.
    From what I can see is that your design also has a minimal neck heel allowing better access when in the stratosphere frets although I suppose that you can do that with a set neck too. Am I correct on that or not?

    I, too, love the design. I love modernistic designs that work to my eye and sound good to my ear. I think this fits into that category along with Jacobson, Condino, Beardsell and LeStock. Wonderful! Keep up the work!
    Jim

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  29. #24
    Mandolin tragic Graham McDonald's Avatar
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    Default Re: A new prototype mandolin

    The treble side of the body hits at the 15th fret, so better access to those who play high up the neck. The method of attachment does not really matter here. It could be a dovetail just as effectively. At the same I could quite happily have a mandolin with just seven frets. It would not limit my playing 8-)

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