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Thread: Carbon Fiber Builder wants our input on a Carbon Fiber Mandolin

  1. #26
    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Carbon Fiber Builder wants our input on a Carbon Fiber Mandol

    Standard nut width for a mandolin is 1 1/8th.
    Charley

    A bunch of stuff with four strings

  2. #27
    Registered User John Soper's Avatar
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    Default Re: Carbon Fiber Builder wants our input on a Carbon Fiber Mandol

    I snagged one of the Z mandolins because retirement and time for travel rears its head. I figured the stability of CF would be a plus if/when we hit the road. The neck is 1 1/8th" and comfortable. It really sounds good in its first few days of play. I'm convinced that there is not a great trade off in tonality vs a standard wooden instrument and am looking forward to my learning how to get the best out of it as something more than "just" a travel and campfire mandolin. I've heard several great CF fiddles and that convinced me to make the jump to a CF mandolin. I applaud the other builders who are exploring manufacturing of these carbon fiber instruments.

  3. #28
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    Default Re: Carbon Fiber Builder wants our input on a Carbon Fiber Mandol

    Quote Originally Posted by SynergyInstruments View Post
    The Ekoa mandolin would be slightly more expensive as building Ekoa instruments is alittle more labour intensive than carbon fiber, however it will not be a significant increase and should still fall within the price range listed above
    So, now you’ve got me very, very interested!
    Chuck

  4. #29
    Registered User mbruno's Avatar
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    Default Re: Carbon Fiber Builder wants our input on a Carbon Fiber Mandol

    Personally, I'm very interested in a good, light CF mandolin for backpacking, hiking, and kayaking. I normally like F styles, but for this purpose, I would probably want to have an A style or a pointed mando with a thinner profile that still gave decent tone. I would NOT want the normal "backpack" mando that's basically a stick with strings. While I'm willing to compromise tone for portability in this particular case, the stick style IMO is difficult to play because you can't hold it the same way. Just my opinion maybe. I'd be okay with a somewhat smaller scale than a normal mandolin but would want at least 15 frets.

    In a perfect world, having the ability to easily remove / add electronic pickup would be nice. Given that I'd use this for backpacking, 99% of the time I would not need the pickup - but having the option to play / sit in with a group while traveling would be nice. Definitely one of those "nice to have but not needed" things.

    The main thing that kept me from buying one in the past was the price tag. I don't know what really goes in to making a CF mandolin - but given my use case, I wouldn't want to spend more than ~$1500 on just the mandolin (electronics / case not included in that).

    That said, a good buddy of mine lives in Costa Rica and has been playing mando for a bit. He had to get a CF mando because the wood ones would keep breaking due to the high humidity of the jungle.

    If Chris ends up making a CF mandolin that somewhat fits the above, I would love to know about it.
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  5. #30

    Default Re: Carbon Fiber Builder wants our input on a Carbon Fiber Mandol

    I own a flat-top mandolin and it is very loud and bright, I prefer a darker sound, and prefer oval-hole arch-tops for that reason. Carbon tends to be dark by it's nature though, which might be enough to compensate, so this would be an iffy purchase for me. On the plus side I do love the idea of carbon, and their prices are fantastic, so not much risk there.

    Also want adjustable bridge and choice of frets so I can dial in action to taste and string choice.

    I can make my own nuts, which can compensate for nut widths really well, so 1/8" is fine. Radiused fingerboard is better than a flat one too.

    I also like to replace tuners with higher ratio ones, but I guess I can live with whatever they put on, as it won't need to be retuned often. :-)
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  6. #31
    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Default Re: Carbon Fiber Builder wants our input on a Carbon Fiber Mandol

    Maybe a flat top .. the headstock back & neck mold can be routed out with a virtual CAD pattern ,
    then cut on a CNC Milling machine .. into the backing for the negative mold ..

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    Default Re: Carbon Fiber Builder wants our input on a Carbon Fiber Mandol

    For me the primary attraction would be stability and ruggedness despite temperature and humidity extremes. Leaving it out all the time without regard to humidity, being able to leave it in a hot car without worry that it'll fall apart, bringing it into a warm jam session from a sub-zero car, etc.

    - Round neck profile (not V)
    - Radiused board
    - 1 1/8" nut
    - good quality tuners - I really like open gear tuners for light weight, but enclosed might be better for a beach/camping outing.
    - Especially if the body is light weight, having it always doing a nose dive because of a heavy headstock would be a bummer.
    - strap peg on the treble side of the neck heel

  8. #33

    Default Re: Carbon Fiber Builder wants our input on a Carbon Fiber Mandol

    Just my 5 cents: I've been watching the process of making a carbon fiber guitar on a youtube and what have amazed me is that the main ingredient apart from carbon fiber fabrics was epoxy resin. I wonder what happens if one swaps carbon fiber for, say just linen fabrics and whether it is going to dramatically change the acoustic properties of the instrument? I have a suspicion that it won't. Surely carbon fiber sounds and looks cool, but since it is basically an epoxy instrument does it matter that much what is being used for a base of it?

  9. #34
    Registered User Eric Platt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Carbon Fiber Builder wants our input on a Carbon Fiber Mandol

    Okay, after hearing from the designer, I like this even more. An A style with option for either F or oval hole would be nice. And I like the idea of Richlite on both the fingerboard and bridge.

    As to the preferences, I would prefer a heel on the instrument. The few CF and ekoa guitars I've tried without a heel don't feel as comfortable to my hands.

    One thing to think about - can we assume that if the neck/body is one piece, the fingerboard will be on the body? Not raised up like many modern mandolins? While I don't mind, that combined with a neck that connects to the body at the 15th fret will definitely not look "normal" to some folks and could put off potential buyers. Am not saying don't do it, but it could be jarring to some. Also am not sure how that would affect potential bridge height and the amount of down pressure on the top by the strings. Sorry if this is getting too off track. Just some thoughts early in the morning before I've had enough coffee.
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    Default Re: Carbon Fiber Builder wants our input on a Carbon Fiber Mandol

    Quote Originally Posted by SynergyInstruments View Post
    Thanks Gary for starting this post, and thanks everyone for the great input already.

    As it stands right now our game plan would be to initially release an A style with the option to have either an Oval hole or the F holes. The carbon fiber mandolin will also feature arched front and back, however a flat top model isn't out of the question. While a flat top would simplify production slightly, not enough to warrant a significant price difference. Our carbon fiber mandolins will also feature a richlite fingerboard and likely a richlite bridge as well in an effort to remove all components that would typically be made from wood and be susceptible to temperature and humidity changes.

    Furthermore we are looking to offer the same instrument in Ekoa / Flax giving the instrument a very unique wood like look all while remaining impervious to temperature and humidity changes.

    One other thing to consider is any design changes you may like to see. For instance would you prefer to have the heel removed from the neck and blended into the body in a smooth transition? Things like this are 100% possible as we will be designing the body and neck to be built as one piece.

    While we are still in the early days of developing a carbon fiber mandolin we are aiming to hit a price point somewhere between $1000 - $1500 Canadian ($760 - $1140 USD).
    I would be interested in hearing more about the Ekoa material. What is it and how close does it sound to a wood instrument? If the tone was close to wood and the durability was much better than a wood instrument, I'd be interested

  11. #36
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    Default Re: Carbon Fiber Builder wants our input on a Carbon Fiber Mandol

    Quote Originally Posted by vic-victor View Post
    ... I wonder what happens if one swaps carbon fiber for, say just linen fabrics ...
    I can say from having built some whitewater kayaks in the '70s and '80s, when the highest-tec (meaning lightest and stiffest, almost regardless of cost) racing boats were made from kevlar lay-up reinforced with carbon-fiber ribs, that carbon fiber results in the stiffest and lightest material available. Substituting linen would, IMHO, result in more resin being absorbed into the fabric, yielding a thicker and thus heavier, but not necessarily stiffer or stronger, final result. Considering that lightness and stiffness are what we look for in soundboards, I doubt that linen, or most other fabrics, would outperform carbon fiber.

    (That was before kevlar became generally known, mostly as belts in radial tires).

    I don't recall anyone attempting to build a (4 meter, or 13' 2") WW kayak out of ALL carbon fiber, as it would require the fabric of, just guessing, 8 to 10 guitars or 20 to 30 mandolins... knowing that they will ultimately be beat to heck on the rocks of a typical whitewater river!

    FWIW, my wife, in Columbus OH in the early '70s, did build some whitewater paddles substituting a layer of linen for the top layer of the polyester blade structure, but that was purely for the aesthetics of the printed pattern, w/ hopefully minimal decrease in strength and maybe some small decrease in weight compared to the (commonly used then) polyester. If anythinng, paddles take even MORE abuse than boat hulls do!
    Last edited by EdHanrahan; Oct-16-2020 at 2:17pm.
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  13. #37
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Carbon Fiber Builder wants our input on a Carbon Fiber Mandol

    Quote Originally Posted by vic-victor View Post
    Just my 5 cents: I've been watching the process of making a carbon fiber guitar on a youtube and what have amazed me is that the main ingredient apart from carbon fiber fabrics was epoxy resin. I wonder what happens if one swaps carbon fiber for, say just linen fabrics and whether it is going to dramatically change the acoustic properties of the instrument? I have a suspicion that it won't. Surely carbon fiber sounds and looks cool, but since it is basically an epoxy instrument does it matter that much what is being used for a base of it?
    As I noted above, I played the eKoa uke and compared to a CF one there was a considerable difference in tone. In fact, I just checked on the Blackbird web site and they no longer show any CF instruments and only make guitars and ukuleles from eKoa.
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  15. #38
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    Default Re: Carbon Fiber Builder wants our input on a Carbon Fiber Mandol

    I absolutely love the idea of a CF mando. I do a lot of travel by motorcycle and generally carry a "beater". It would be great to have an instrument that I didn't have to worry about in bad weather or heat.
    I used to play fiddle, and became a great fan of CF violin bows. They're not going to compete with the high end wood, but there are some that are excellent in terms of playability and sound. I would think that a CF mando could be made in a similar manner.
    My preference would be an A style (but I'de go either way) but definitely NOT a wide nut.
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  16. #39
    Registered User j. condino's Avatar
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    Default Re: Carbon Fiber Builder wants our input on a Carbon Fiber Mandol

    I've carried my favorite instruments all over the world, in cars and sailboats and planes and trains and kayaks, helicopters, on horses and Yaks and Naks, in all sorts of military aircraft while deployed & at war, down 300 miles of the Colorado River through the grand canyon four in the fall, winter, spring, and summer, deep into the deserts, and twice to Mt. Everest. I never once wished that I had brought some POS mandolin shaped object or anything less than my absolute best. With a small bit of effort, they are very durable and will tolerate plenty of adversity.

    Carbon fiber has a proven track record of being able to produce very nice high quality instruments with a fine voice. You can argue all day over semantics like neck width, (and NO the mandolin neck is NOT standardized at 1 1/8", it is just one of several common options. Plenty of L. Loar signed F5s have narrow necks and there are 1000s of mandoins with wider necks!), but the material is well established and very capable. In a world already drowning in mediocre junk, the focus should be on the best performing design, not a cheap design; we already have enough of those. I wish the folks doing this well and hope they succeed; please do NOT Use a bunch of armchair internet folks as your main frame of reference!!!!
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  18. #40
    Eschews Obfuscation mugbucket's Avatar
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    Default Re: Carbon Fiber Builder wants our input on a Carbon Fiber Mandol

    I've always been partial to oval holed 2 pointers, but I managed to scratch that itch.

    With the repeated mentions of travel models, I would definitely add my interest as well. Something along the lines of Montana Lutherie's Ranger...
    Despite the high cost of living, it still remains popular...

  19. #41
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    Question Re: Carbon Fiber Builder wants our input on a Carbon Fiber Mandol

    I wonder what happens if one swaps carbon fiber for, say just linen fabrics ...
    There have been custom woven fabrics blending carbon and flax fibers * , and as Peter Mix used a Kevlar-nylon carbon mixed fiber the nylon could be colored..
    * Belgian high end bicycle company did so, contracted the fiber blend to be specially woven..


    Wonder onward Actual experimentation will incur some investment ..
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  20. #42

    Default Re: Carbon Fiber Builder wants our input on a Carbon Fiber Mandol

    You, sir, are a badass.

    Quote Originally Posted by j. condino View Post
    I've carried my favorite instruments all over the world, in cars and sailboats and planes and trains and kayaks, helicopters, on horses and Yaks and Naks, in all sorts of military aircraft while deployed & at war, down 300 miles of the Colorado River through the grand canyon four in the fall, winter, spring, and summer, deep into the deserts, and twice to Mt. Everest. I never once wished that I had brought some POS mandolin shaped object or anything less than my absolute best. With a small bit of effort, they are very durable and will tolerate plenty of adversity.

    Carbon fiber has a proven track record of being able to produce very nice high quality instruments with a fine voice. You can argue all day over semantics like neck width, (and NO the mandolin neck is NOT standardized at 1 1/8", it is just one of several common options. Plenty of L. Loar signed F5s have narrow necks and there are 1000s of mandoins with wider necks!), but the material is well established and very capable. In a world already drowning in mediocre junk, the focus should be on the best performing design, not a cheap design; we already have enough of those. I wish the folks doing this well and hope they succeed; please do NOT Use a bunch of armchair internet folks as your main frame of reference!!!!
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  21. #43
    Quietly Making Noise Dave Greenspoon's Avatar
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    Default Re: Carbon Fiber Builder wants our input on a Carbon Fiber Mandol

    Add in a basic preamp and eq for a small uptick to the target range and I'd definitely be interested.
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  22. #44

    Default Re: Carbon Fiber Builder wants our input on a Carbon Fiber Mandol

    The acoustic guitars in the sample videos sound surprisingly nice. I'd like to have a Carbon Fiber mando to take sailing with me. No way my Collings MT's going on the boat but if these guys could make a decent sounding CF version I'm in.

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