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PostPosted: Sun Nov 16, 2014 7:13 pm 
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A friend of mine would like me to build a mandolin for him, specifically, an A type with f-holes and good bass bark. I have not built a mandolin yet but have wanted to do so for quite a while. I have no idea where to start. Can any of you mandolin builders point me to a good set of plans or a book so I can get started on this one?

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 16, 2014 7:32 pm 
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Steve,
I have pondered this, too, because I have my dad's 1937 A-style, wide bodied Gibson, f-hole mandolin. I've built some flat tops with induced arch, but I've wondered if I could replicate a carved arch top A-style with f-holes, somewhat similar to my dad's instrument. I would start with these plans, but I would feel free to modify the plans to suit myself:

http://www.stewmac.com/How-To/Blueprint ... _Plan.html


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 16, 2014 9:08 pm 
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That looks like a good start. I would also like to do a carved top. I guess I need to get a set of plans and get started.

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 17, 2014 6:54 am 
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Steve, take a look at Roger Siminoff's website. He has a very accurate plan for the Loar A5, and lots of material to build mandolins.


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 17, 2014 9:58 am 
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For some great information on construction methods check out GAL American lutherie Number 75 and 76. The 2 part article Hands on archtop mandolin making, with Don MacRostie. It has some good info on construction of an A style mando with lots of pictures.

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These users thanked the author Cush for the post: Peter Norman (Sun Mar 29, 2015 4:12 pm)
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 17, 2014 10:09 am 
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Thanks guys,

Hanns, I'll check out his site. Maybe I can get some insight into Mandolin voicing. edit: I went ahead and ordered his mandolin book. Looks like a good primer for me to read.

Cush, good lead and I have those in my file cabinet. I'll dig em out.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 18, 2014 3:45 am 
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Lots of good info in Siminoff's book, but I would not worry so much about the voicing part, at least not for starters. Siminoff's voicing method is 'controversial' (to be diplomatic) in the mandolin community, and besides, building your first archtop mandolin is probably challenging enough anyways.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 18, 2014 6:09 am 
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+1


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 18, 2014 6:48 am 
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Arnt, Haans. Thanks for the warning about Siminoff's voicing methods. I learned to voice guitar tops from Kent Everett but don't see that translating to carved plates.

Haans, you said his A5 plans were good. Do you think they are accurate enough to follow dimensionally and expect a good result?

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 18, 2014 7:46 am 
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Steve, the A5 Loar plan is good for outline. A number of years back, Roger and I had a conversation about the peghead outline. Can't say if he ever changed it, but on my print, he showed the forshortened (by neck angle) view and not the plan view of the shape.
Understand that this is the Loar A5 and not the modern Gibson A5. It has a different body and a pushed forward bridge to accomodate the long 15 fret neck. It makes a powerful mandolin, just short of an F5 in tonal qualities and power. The Stew Mac print is the "modern A5" print. I have also built 15 fret mandolins off the A1 print, by modifying the nose block and moving the bridge and neck back. It makes a very nice instrument, and is larger than the Stew Mac A5.
I would never use anyone's graduations to build the instrument. I always found them too thin, but seems to me if I remember right, the Siminoff grads looked too thick to me. Drop me a line off my website and I'll get you a ballpark set of grads.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 18, 2014 7:56 am 
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I will do that. Thanks Haans!

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 18, 2014 8:00 am 
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A few more suggestions: Graham McDonald's book "The Mandolin Project" has instructions for an A-style mandolin, IIRC it is an oval hole, but that can be changed easily enough. The most accurate "Loar" Gibson f-style plans I know are the ones by Adrian Minarovic, I think you can get them from Elderly. Skip the points and scroll, and you have a pretty nice A-style instrument. Don McRostie's mandolin plan (Stewmac) is nice too, I have the f-style one, but I think he also made one for A-style. Also head over to the builder's section on Mandolin Café, lots and lots of info about all this stuff.

<edit> Haans posted while I was typing. Follow his advice, he will steer you in the right direction [:Y:]

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 18, 2014 9:44 am 
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You can't go to far wrong using deflection to voice your plates. Don MacRostie uses thickness as a starting point. He then makes final graduations by testing the plates deflection. This is all in the GAL article. All wood is not alike so deflection consistency is important.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 18, 2014 10:36 am 
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I've got Graham McDonald's book, too. It's a very nice resource and you would find it very helpful. You didn't originally say whether your friend wanted a replicated copy of a specific mandolin. McDonald's book will convince you that there are any number of ways you can approach this project. I think the other respondents have given great leads and recommendations. If you're not on a deadline, I'd recommend reading all of these resources, acquiring several plans, and then deciding how you wish to proceed.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 18, 2014 10:47 am 
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Thanks Arnt, I appreciate the advice.

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 24, 2014 12:46 pm 
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I received the book from Siminoff and read it over the weekend. Seemed to provide a good explanation. I'm in the process now of collecting components to start the build. I've got Sitka from Bob C. for the top and some curly maple from American Specialty Hardwoods (I've never dealt with them but Jerry was great about communication and taking photos so we could select the set my friend wants). Some other bits and pieces are also on the way.

I have a question about scale. Siminoff uses a 13 15/16" scale for the A5. LMI has a Slotting template, 13.75" and 13.875", mandolin “A” model and F5. Would the 13.875" be ok for the A5? I'm not sure what the tolerance is for scale length changes on mandolins.

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 24, 2014 3:58 pm 
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13.875" is standard for an F5. I've used that scale on every mandolin I have ever built.


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 24, 2014 5:09 pm 
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So Haans sounds like you are saying that is ok for the A5 too? If so, I will get the template from LMI. I like to cut my own fret boards. Thanks Haans!

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 24, 2014 6:18 pm 
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Cush, I have AL 75 an 76 so they're on the read list. [:Y:]

Cphanna, I also got Graham McDonald's ebook the "Mandolin Project" to read. After poking around on his interesting site I'm thinking I might have to make a Bouzouki too :)

I feel like I'm getting ready for midterms but so much more fun.

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 24, 2014 6:35 pm 
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It's fun, alright. One of the things I enjoy most about building instruments is the design process. Even if I'm working from a published plan, I always feel at liberty to do some things my own way. The book study, video viewing, etc. etc. are all part of a very fun process.


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 24, 2014 6:38 pm 
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Hey, Arnt,
I remember that you built a nice A-style instrument during a challenge build some years ago. It might have been a mandola. But it was very well documented and I think it would be helpful to our friend, Steve. Do you still have a link that that build?
Patrick


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 24, 2014 7:12 pm 
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Steve, didn't mean to be ambiguous...I've built a few A models too!
Here's a photo of my A5C (Loar copy)...

Image

...and here is one of my regular A5's...

Image

Close scrutiny will show a lot of differences.


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 24, 2014 7:55 pm 
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cphanna wrote:
Hey, Arnt,
I remember that you built a nice A-style instrument during a challenge build some years ago. It might have been a mandola. But it was very well documented and I think it would be helpful to our friend, Steve. Do you still have a link that that build?
Patrick


Hi Patrick, that was over on MIMF in the 'bad old days' ;) , I don't think the challenge threads made it to the new forum format. I do have the pictures somewhere though, I'll see aboout posting it over here. That was a LONG time ago, though!

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 25, 2014 4:34 am 
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OK, posted the mandola build thread, check it out

http://www.luthiersforum.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=10128&t=44634

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 25, 2014 1:52 pm 
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Hey, Arnt,
Thanks for linking us back to your mandola thread. I had forgotten it was an oval hole instrument, but your x-brace ought to work equally well with f-holes--or Steve can go with 'parallel' braces if he prefers. I still find your thread very informative and, yes, I STILL like the knot in the back. I have a hunch this will be very helpful to Steve and to others, as well. Many thanks.

Haans, Those are a couple of beautiful instruments.

Best regards to all,
Patrick


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