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PostPosted: Thu Dec 25, 2014 4:57 pm 
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Walnut
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Joined: Mon Jan 07, 2013 2:33 pm
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First name: John
Last Name: LaTorre
City: Sacramento
State: CA
Zip/Postal Code: 95820
Country: United States
Focus: Build
Status: Amateur
I saw a picture of a mandolin on another forum that's intrigued me. It was made in East Germany, probably in the 1970s, and was a conventional bowl-back or Neapolitan style mandolin, with an oval soundhole and flat soundboard with a slight break-angle near the bridge. However, the body consisted of slightly narrower ribs than an A-style mandolin, and a rounded back built up from various pieces of wood. It seemed to me a good compromise between a bowl-back and a flat-back mandolin. (The back also had some elaborate marquetry that I won't attempt to reproduce.)

Do any of our international friends happen to know where plans of this instrument might be found? I'm conversant enough in German to be able to read plans in that language.

And has anybody here actually built such an instrument?


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 25, 2014 6:16 pm 
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Koa
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John,
Any chance of capturing the photo that you saw and reposting it here? I've got a picture in my head, but I'm not sure it matches the picture in your head. In any event, I won't have plans, but someone else might. Or they might have good leads on building staved-back instruments. From those, you could probably develop your own plan.
Patrick


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 26, 2014 2:16 pm 
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Walnut
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First name: John
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cphanna wrote:
John,
Any chance of capturing the photo that you saw and reposting it here?


It was from this thread on the Mandolin Cafe"

http://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/showt ... y-Mandolin

From the posts, it seems to have been a style made by more than a few German makers.


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 26, 2014 3:02 pm 
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Koa
Koa

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Hi again, John. I've never seen anything quite like it, either. The only suggestion I can offer is to encourage you to send a private message to Ranger_Rick over at Mandolincafe and ask him to take some critical measurements for you. Their community is a very helpful one, just like ours. He might be able to provide your requested measurements and then you could draw up your own plan. You'd obviously need to be specific about the measurements you want--body length, width, highest part of the side rim, etc. etc. It's not crazy-difficult to draw full scale plans, but if you've never done it, it might seem more intimidating than it really is. You can get lots of ideas for bracing systems from books such as THE MANDOLIN PROJECT or THE MANDOLIN MANUAL. You can get your critical neck dimensions just by handling a few existing mandolins and measuring one that feels good to you. I've drawn several instrument plans--all derived from bits and pieces of things that I like. Give it a try. If you hit a hurdle, I'm sure there are experienced people here and at mandolincafe who will review photos of your plan in progress and advise you. Best of luck with it.

I'm guessing your example has a staved back which was then veneered, but it's real hard to say. Rick can probably advise you about that, too.


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 26, 2014 3:49 pm 
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Old Growth Brazilian Rosewood
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Joined: Fri Nov 02, 2007 9:49 am
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Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan
First name: Hesh
Last Name: Breakstone
Country: United States
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We frequently see bowl back mandos that someone picked up at a yard sale and has visions of resurrecting and playing perhaps blue grass tunes with.

The thing to know is many of these can date back to very nearly two turns of the century ago and often they were not built to be real, played regularly musical instruments. Often they were built to be ornamental wall hangings and nothing more.

Compared to more modern mando designs they can't keep up... that is if you find one that was constructed to be more than a wall hanging. They lack volume for bluegrass and of course holding one in your lap or trying to stand up and play it will quickly tell you that you either have the wrong build for the mando or the mando has the wrong build for you and I.... Not unlike an Ov*tion in this respect and when I think of it more and consider that some were nothing more than MLO (mando like objects) the comparison to Ov*tion is more telling than I thought...;)

If your end game is a decent mando to actually play and not just hang on the wall there are far better designs. Any instrument build can be a big undertaking as I am sure you know so as such I would strongly consider what your end game is before going this route - player or wall hanging.

As to your original question looking for plans - I know of none that are available but others may but it would not surprise me that the absence of plans for these is yet another acknowledgement that they basically suck when compared to modern designs from the last 100 years or so....


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 26, 2014 4:13 pm 
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Koa
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Hesh, MLO (mando-like-object) that's pretty good! John, Hesh is making sense here...as he usually does. It all depends on your goals.



These users thanked the author cphanna for the post: Hesh (Fri Dec 26, 2014 4:19 pm)
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 26, 2014 4:25 pm 
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Old Growth Brazilian Rosewood
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Joined: Fri Nov 02, 2007 9:49 am
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Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan
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Thanks Patrick - I'm always keen to give attribution too so I stole the MLO thing from Rick Turner who calls some guitars put together like a model airplane kit GLOs or guitar like objects. If you like the expression I get the credit and if you don't like it Rick gets the blame.... :D

Seriously many of these were made in eastern European nations as ornamental wall hangings and likely could not even endure the stresses of being tuned to pitch.... for long.... They are pretty though!

To try to provide some actual value to the OP, always a good idea.... :D if this look is what is interesting to you perhaps there is a Lute in your future. Staved backs, bowls, etc. AND plans are available AND the plans actually result in a real musical instrument that can actually be played. We have some Lute expertise here on the forum if you are interested and I can point you to someone who not only talks the talk but who actually walks the walk too with lutes.


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 28, 2014 12:31 am 
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Walnut
Walnut

Joined: Mon Jan 07, 2013 2:33 pm
Posts: 16
First name: John
Last Name: LaTorre
City: Sacramento
State: CA
Zip/Postal Code: 95820
Country: United States
Focus: Build
Status: Amateur
Thanks for the responses. I'm not a total stranger to making bowlback instruments from scratch, having made a mandore (an ancestor of the mandolin).

A description of it, with pictures. is here:

http://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/showthread.php?112076-mandore-by-JLT

It came out pretty well, and doesn't sound too bad. I did that one, of course, without plans, working off a couple of medieval drawings. So I suppose I could do it again. It's just that seeing somebody else's plans might help me understand what other people have found to be practical.

It is entirely possible, as Hesh suggested, that the instruments were inferior in tonal quality to more conventional designs, which accounts for the lack of plans. Since I haven't actually heard one, I can't tell. My interest in that design stemmed from a GLO I made with a partial bowl-back and a lute-like bridge and an ovoid soundboard, except that I used conventional Torres-type fan bracing.. (in this case, a CGLO, since it was basically a classical guitar). The tonal qualities were quite comparable to a standard classical guitar, but it was much easier to hold than a bowl-back lute, particularly when I was standing and supporting it with a shoulder strap than on my lap.

And Hesh is right in pointing out that there are good plans for good instruments out there. If I were anybody but me, I'd take his advice and build those. (In fact, I already have.) But I figure that the world is full of mandolins that have been made to proven designs, but the only way to satisfy one's curiosity about what a non-standard instrument would sound like is to build it and play it. It might suck.. But then again, it might not.


Last edited by JLT on Sun Dec 28, 2014 1:53 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 28, 2014 12:46 am 
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Koa
Koa

Joined: Sat Apr 19, 2008 10:08 pm
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Location: Missouri
First name: Patrick
Last Name: Hanna
State: Missouri
Country: USA
Well, all that considered, I think you should build it. I'd be curious to see it.


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