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Thread: Classical mandolin setup preferences.

  1. #1

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    Hi all,
    As some of you know, I have been working towards building a classical Embergher style reproduction. I have a moment to myself today, and the neck I was working on is only laid out with penciled-in lines for where the fretboard will go. I wanted to take a census before doing any cutting here.

    My main question is, just what configuration classical mandolinists find most comfortable in their fretboard layouts.

    Do you have a preferred mandolin neck for your classical playing? Mind sharing any dimensions?

  2. #2

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    Well, you guys know how impatient I am. ha! I cut the neck for 7/8" nut, per spec. Seven ribs of 30 on the Embergher. Going Claro walnut a la Labraid. The joints are looking real nice. I'll have a step by step when it's done. Shouldn't be long.

  3. #3
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Brian:
    I know you have discussed this with us bowlheads before but how close to the actual Embergher model are you adhering? I think you got Sr. Lippi's posters, right? They have dimensions etc? What do you need to know?

    The Embergher necks, fretboards and bridges are quite different from other Italian bowlbacks. Narrow, pretty sharp v-profile neck with radiussed fretboard "weighted" toward the bass side.
    Jim

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    Brian,
    Check your pm

  5. #5

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    jim, precisely it, the embergher neck is very narrow. and i am not adhering to the drawings 100 percent 9my shift key isn't working this morning hehe0. what i am going for is an interpretation which will not be unfamiliar in the hands of modern classical players. playability-wise.
    i don't know how i will be able to play a 7/8 inch nut, but obviously some can. and well. i'm curious as to what each one of you, what your preferences are for neck width, bridge spacing, etc.
    i could just take measures off 30 instruments, but i suppose i'm guilty of desiring to participate in community rather than boring book-style research. if anyone wants to take part, they're welcome to contribute to this project as it develops.

  6. #6
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Brian:
    I will do some nut measurements of what I find comfortable to play and get back to you later. Granted I am no virtuoso and even the classical stuff In play is not super difficult.
    Jim

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  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by (OldTymer @ Feb. 29 2008, 10:43)
    i could just take measures off 30 instruments, but i suppose i'm guilty of desiring to participate in community rather than boring book-style research. if anyone wants to take part, they're welcome to contribute to this project as it develops.
    Come, now. Book-style research is tremendously useful in many endeavors, is not exclusive of community participation, and isn't necessarily boring. Carry on.

  8. #8

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    Eugene, my comments were in reference to number hunting. I did not wax eloquently enough. Huh, wax. Precisely the topic of a book I am reading right now.




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    Well, here's my 0.2 on this subject. Of all the instruments I've owned or had occasion to play, the neck width and design that allows me the greatest comfort and freedom (security) is that found on the Vega roundback mandolins. I have an Embergher and the extremely narrow neck is really a challenge for some chord configurations (mainly in the low positions). I find anything wider than the Vega neck also unhandy. Of course, one's fingering system will come into play (the wider necks favoring a more guitaristic approach, the opposite favoring more violinistic choice of fingerings). Pettine wrote an interesting article on this subject as well, also dealing with the spacing of the strings (nut/bridge) and the headstock design. When I can find more than a minute, I'll try to pull up this stuff and share it with you all.

  10. #10

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    I have nothing but admiration and encouragement to voice for such a worthy project. Yet speaking of preferences is inevitably opening a can-of-worms. If, that is, you wish to build an Embergher replica, I'm ALL with you! But, of course, that will surely NOT satisfy those who prefer the extra-wide fingerboards of modern German instruments, to mention but one, extreme opposite. I would say: go ahead! You can't please EVERYbody, all at the same time.

    The nut should be narrow, no more than 25 mm. wide. Anything wider than that is really not "Embergher-esque". The corollary (and mitigating factor, finger-space-wise) is the pronounced radius of the fingerboard/frets. That, most "violinistic" of traits IS the Romanesque feature par excellence. Factor in the arching and the width as one and the same dimension.

    Richard's comment above is right on: wider fingerboards and players with a guitaristic background/approach go hand in hand (no pun intended). I do not play guitar-- although, to be fair to a truly lovely instrument, it was the first one I began my "formal" musical training on, many moons ago... Neither am I a violinist, of course, but I've always viewed the mandolin and violin as near-equivalents in many, basic, yet profound ways. In the past few years, I have "shadowed" my daughter's violin studies, practicing her materials on the mandolin --much to her amusement -- and consider my mandolin playing thoroughly "violinized" by now.

    I'd say, stick with the Embergher specs-- NOT in the spirit of "orthodoxy", but so that you come up with a type of instrument that is extraordinary in every respect, setting its own standard of what a mandolin IS. Never mind that it does not define the ONLY, or the "Most Preferable" type; no instrument, however well built, ever will.

    Best of luck! I, for one, would LOVE to see some images, as soon as you have some you care to share with us.

    Cheers,

    Victor
    It is not man who lives, but his work. (Ioannis Kapodistrias)

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