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Thread: Girouard Flamed Birch Mandola

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    Registered User lauri Girouard's Avatar
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    Default Girouard Flamed Birch Mandola

    It was a while in the works, and some mandola shaped wood heated our house in the woodstove over the winter and spring, but we finally have finished our first official mandola. I am pretty happy with the finish on it and Max is happy about the sound. Carpathain top and flamed birch sides. Having done a couple birch mandos, we are enjoying the sound coming from them. For me, on the finishing side, I love it! Check out some of the pics that I took today after it was polished up. We are working on some sound clips. Me being a Radiohead fan, I am enjoying hearing Max play "Optimistic" on it. I will push to have it recorded for posting!

    Lauri


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  2. #2
    Registered User lauri Girouard's Avatar
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    Default Re: Girouard Flamed Birch Mandola

    Video sound clip of it being strung up in the white using a canon camcorder


  3. #3
    Work in Progress Ed Goist's Avatar
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    Default Re: Girouard Flamed Birch Mandola

    Breathtaking Lauri & Max...Just breathtaking.
    c.1965 Harmony Monterey H410 Mandolin
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    Registered Muser dang's Avatar
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    Default Re: Girouard Flamed Birch Mandola

    Quote Originally Posted by lauri Girouard View Post
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    Does this remind anyone else of water?!?!

    Simply gorgeous!!! And looking better all the time, great work Max and Lauri!
    I should be pickin' rather than postin'

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    Registered User Randi Gormley's Avatar
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    Default Re: Girouard Flamed Birch Mandola

    wow. just, wow.
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  6. #6

    Default Re: Girouard Flamed Birch Mandola

    That's awesome, Lauri!
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  7. #7

    Default Re: Girouard Flamed Birch Mandola

    I'm a big fan of Birch and that is the most figured Birch I have ever seen. Great combo with the Carpathian top, both help make it mellow I think, and it sounds great! Good on you for going the alternate wood route, not enough builders do it in my opinion.

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    wood butcher Spruce's Avatar
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    Default Re: Girouard Flamed Birch Mandola

    Quote Originally Posted by OldGus View Post
    Good on you for going the alternate wood route....
    Cracks me up that a wood that was used on hundreds-of-thousands of Gibson mandolins is considered to be an "alternate wood"...

    That's some of the nicest birch I've ever laid eyes on...

    Beautiful work!

  9. #9

    Default Re: Girouard Flamed Birch Mandola

    Quote Originally Posted by Spruce View Post
    Cracks me up that a wood that was used on hundreds-of-thousands of Gibson mandolins is considered to be an "alternate wood"...

    That's some of the nicest birch I've ever laid eyes on...

    Beautiful work!
    In days gone by....hundreds of thousands, really? Did they employ a Carpathian top? Nowadays it seems they are mostly just maple but there are some exceptions. Also most of those were oval hole instruments.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Girouard Flamed Birch Mandola

    Gus, I believe Spruce was talking about Gibson using Birch on lots of their instruments.
    Matthew

  11. #11

    Default Re: Girouard Flamed Birch Mandola

    Quote Originally Posted by nobullmando74 View Post
    Gus, I believe Spruce was talking about Gibson using Birch on lots of their instruments.
    I realize that and it's true but I am referring to the present and to this particular application and wood combination. Not that many builders seem to be using Birch these days. I would also consider Walnut an alternative wood to what's "traditional" and yeah Gibson and Lyon and Healy used it.... 80+ years ago.

  12. #12
    Work in Progress Ed Goist's Avatar
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    Default Re: Girouard Flamed Birch Mandola

    Quote Originally Posted by Spruce View Post
    ...snip...hundreds-of-thousands of Gibson mandolins...snip...
    I hope to not derail the thread, but, has Gibson built even 100,000 mandolins?
    It looks like Gibson started building mandolins around 1902. To have built a total of 100,000 mandolins, they would have needed to build an average of 909 mandolins every year. That sounds like a lot to me (but I could be way off on this).
    Anyone know the exact or an approximate number of total mandolins built by Gibson?
    c.1965 Harmony Monterey H410 Mandolin
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    "Life is too important to be taken seriously." - Oscar Wilde
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    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Girouard Flamed Birch Mandola

    Gibson serial numbers hit 99,999 in the early '40s and then had to start over. Of course that covers all serialized instruments, not just mandolins, but I would venture to say that Gibson has indeed made 100,000 mandolins over its entire history.

    So Spruce may be exaggerating a bit, but not as much as you might think.
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    Default Re: Girouard Flamed Birch Mandola

    Quote Originally Posted by mrmando View Post
    Gibson serial numbers hit 99,999 in the early '40s and then had to start over. Of course that covers all serialized instruments, not just mandolins, but I would venture to say that Gibson has indeed made 100,000 mandolins over its entire history.

    So Spruce may be exaggerating a bit, but not as much as you might think.
    He implied hundreds of thousands of Birch mandolins... I'd say he exaggerated a lot.

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    Registered User Tavy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Girouard Flamed Birch Mandola

    That thing is just awesome - congratulations to you both!

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    Registered User Brett Byers's Avatar
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    Default Re: Girouard Flamed Birch Mandola

    stunning work as usual Lauri!

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    Registered User Glassweb's Avatar
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    Default Re: Girouard Flamed Birch Mandola

    great axe... great playing!

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    Registered User lauri Girouard's Avatar
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    Default Re: Girouard Flamed Birch Mandola

    Thank you everyone. You have us already thinking about the next birch build. However you think of birch, alternative or old tradition, I think we can all somewhat agree that it really is a wood that is being under used in mando making today. The picture below is of one of the first mandolins we made. So early, I dont think it was part of our current numbering system. Like most finish jobs, pictures just can't capture whats happening in real life. I feel in love with birch during this build.
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    Last edited by lauri Girouard; Jun-29-2012 at 2:30pm. Reason: Gramma' issues

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    Registered User robert.najlis's Avatar
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    Default Re: Girouard Flamed Birch Mandola

    how does birch compare with the various maples - sound-wise (not tradition-wise)?

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    Registered User lauri Girouard's Avatar
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    Default Re: Girouard Flamed Birch Mandola

    Robert we haven't used birch enough to determine that. All the pieces we have used have been completely different. We get the sound that we want via arching and graduations. We also string up all instruments in the white so we can fine tune them and get "that sound".

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    wood butcher Spruce's Avatar
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    Default Re: Girouard Flamed Birch Mandola

    Quote Originally Posted by OldGus View Post
    He implied hundreds of thousands of Birch mandolins... I'd say he exaggerated a lot.
    Well, excuuuse me....

    (And yes, I was under the false impression that there were a couple hundred thousand Gibson As and Fs sporting birch back and sides...)

    Nice to see that wood getting some love around here....


    Quote Originally Posted by robert.najlis View Post
    how does birch compare with the various maples - sound-wise (not tradition-wise)?
    It's really heavy, so I would say it's in the rock maple catagory...

  24. #22
    Registered User sgrexa's Avatar
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    Default Re: Girouard Flamed Birch Mandola

    Wow, I saw it in the "rough" just a few days ago and now this! Sounds killer too. Nice job Max and Lauri.

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  26. #23
    Registered User lauri Girouard's Avatar
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    Default Re: Girouard Flamed Birch Mandola

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    Oh yes, lots of love for birch here Bruce!

    While I got the pictures rolling.... check out this birch mando. Not much figure but still very pretty and though in pictures she doesn't look like much, it was hard for me to part with this one. I even named her "Chocolate Drop". Sometimes subtle beauty is the best kind. A nice guy local to New Hampshire has this one now. He plays all the time while up in the White Mountains.

    Sean, I think you should have done that Thurs stop by after all so you could of tried it!

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    wood butcher Spruce's Avatar
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    Default Re: Girouard Flamed Birch Mandola

    Quote Originally Posted by lauri Girouard View Post

    Oh yes, lots of love for birch here Bruce!
    Really nice to see that...

    I sent you some back in '08 that I recently found out was a street tree here in the NW...
    Not sure of the species, but it had a broad slanted flame pattern....

    I'll bet you can get that really nicely figured stuff in gentlemen's hardwood stores back there in the NE--true??
    Just beautiful under a finish....

  28. #25
    Work in Progress Ed Goist's Avatar
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    Default Re: Girouard Flamed Birch Mandola

    From "The Heretic's Guide to Alternative Lutherie Woods", by John Calkin.
    [This article first appeared in American Lutherie #69. American Lutherie is the official publication of the Guild of American Luthiers. This article is reprinted with the kind permission of the author, John Calkin, and Tim Olsen from the Guild of American Luthiers (GAL).]

    Birch. Early in my career, I used a lot of birch. It was the cheapest hardwood available at the local lumber yard. It works, acts, and looks much like maple, though curly birch normally has a much larger curl than curly maple. You've probably seen it made into hollow doors where the large figure can be appreciated. Early in the century, Gibson carved a lot of mandolins out of birch, and most of the people who own them today think they are maple. I recently played a Garrison guitar, the body of which was completely made of birch glued to some sort of synthetic framework. It was a low-end guitar, but it sounded fine. I haven't made a birch instrument in a long time, but I have a soft spot for the wood. It's normally considered a poor relation to maple, but don't be afraid of it if you find an appealing piece. It probably won't be quartersawn. Don't worry about it; it will be strong and pretty stable.

    And here's a Cafe thread from last year: Birch as a tone wood?
    c.1965 Harmony Monterey H410 Mandolin
    "What a long, strange trip it's been..." - Robert Hunter
    "Life is too important to be taken seriously." - Oscar Wilde
    Think Hippie Thoughts...
    Gear: The Current Cast of Characters

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