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 Post subject: My First Mandolin
PostPosted: Fri Oct 06, 2017 1:06 pm 
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Brazilian Rosewood
Brazilian Rosewood

Joined: Tue May 13, 2008 10:44 am
Posts: 3147
I've been wanting to build a carved top instrument for some time now but to start off I thought it might be best to try a regular 'flat top' mandolin. I have this early 1900's Washburn Mandolin that has a nice sweet tone to it so I decided to copy it. I'm really quite pleased with how this Mandolin sound though really know nothing about mandolins, what I should look for in tone, or even what the differences are between types of mandolins. But this one was relatively easy to build and is nice and loud and has good note separation with a nice ringing sustain.

I understand that the carved top instruments should have a more punchy direct tone with good projection? Is there much of a difference in tone between a carved A-Style versus an F-Style?

This is the old Washburn used as a model and the plans drawn up from it with materials:

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This is my workboard. The face is arched and canted to match the shape of the top

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The sides bent into the curved shape of the headblock

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The top has a bent pliage to it like the old Italian bowl back mando's:

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Bending the top with a square pipe heated with a blow torch. A thermometer is used so as not to catch the wood on fire ;)

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Top and back bracing almost identical to the original model:

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Finished in French Polish:

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 Post subject: Re: My First Mandolin
PostPosted: Fri Oct 06, 2017 1:14 pm 
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Koa
Koa

Joined: Mon Jul 11, 2005 5:17 am
Posts: 655
Location: United States
Nice!


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 Post subject: Re: My First Mandolin
PostPosted: Fri Oct 06, 2017 2:29 pm 
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Brazilian Rosewood
Brazilian Rosewood
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Joined: Thu Feb 12, 2009 12:12 pm
Posts: 2329
First name: Bryan
Last Name: Bear
City: St. Louis
State: Mo
Country: USA
Focus: Build
Status: Amateur
Looks great! I like your approach to doing the pliage; that's a great solution.
I made my one and only mandolin (flat-top) with zero exposure to mandolins in general too. It sure was fun.

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Bryan Bear PMoMC

Take care of your feet, and your feet will take care of you.


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 Post subject: Re: My First Mandolin
PostPosted: Fri Oct 06, 2017 2:44 pm 
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Old Growth Brazilian Rosewood
Old Growth Brazilian Rosewood
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Joined: Fri Nov 02, 2007 9:49 am
Posts: 9831
Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan
First name: Hesh
Last Name: Breakstone
Country: United States
Status: Professional
Sweet and very well done!!!


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 Post subject: Re: My First Mandolin
PostPosted: Fri Oct 06, 2017 4:16 pm 
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Brazilian Rosewood
Brazilian Rosewood

Joined: Wed Apr 08, 2009 9:34 am
Posts: 2538
Nice work JF! Looks quite a bit like old Martins too.
In talking about A and F models, you basically have 4 choices you want to talk about. You will want to compare oval hole vs FF holes in addition to A and F.
In sweeping generalities, FF hole's are a little more focused than oval but ovals have a sweeter sound, while FF hole instruments have more projection and and as you say, punch or "chop". As far as A's vs F's, A models tend to be a more refined tone and a good F model has power and big chop.
Other factors that come to mind are the type of woods used. You would find you would get "your chops" learning about the woods used for mandolins much easier than with guitars. I used German, Italian and Red spruce in combination with Euro, Big Leaf and Red maple. There are a multitude of different sounds you can get by varying the tonewood. Depends on what you are looking for in tone...

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J. Brentrup Guitars & Mandolins
http://www.brentrup.com


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 Post subject: Re: My First Mandolin
PostPosted: Mon Oct 09, 2017 8:03 am 
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Brazilian Rosewood
Brazilian Rosewood

Joined: Tue May 13, 2008 10:44 am
Posts: 3147
Thanks for the kind words. And Thanks Haans for the info on the various mandolin types. I notice that you did not mention that you use sugar maple. I can only imagine that there is a reason why? IS it hard to carve? I ask because I want to built more of these as well as carved top mandolins (some day) and I have a ton of sugar maple. It's plain no frills and no figure maple but I was thinking it would be good enough to learn on.


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 Post subject: Re: My First Mandolin
PostPosted: Mon Oct 09, 2017 9:42 am 
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Brazilian Rosewood
Brazilian Rosewood

Joined: Wed Apr 08, 2009 9:34 am
Posts: 2538
Well, yes, it's harder to carve, but the main reason I used it VERY little is that the instruments sound like "a drawer full of silverware tossed down a flight of stairs". Mandolins don't want to be shrill. Think I used it once or twice with German spruce so as to temper the shrillness. Red maple was called out for Loars. There is plenty available on ebay for reasonable prices and a lot is nicely flamed.
You might also consider that hand carving maple will wreck your hands, arms, shoulders, etc after a while. I did it for over 25 years and my upper limbs are a mess...

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J. Brentrup Guitars & Mandolins
http://www.brentrup.com


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 Post subject: Re: My First Mandolin
PostPosted: Mon Oct 09, 2017 9:50 pm 
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Contributing Member
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Joined: Mon Apr 16, 2012 12:47 pm
Posts: 973
First name: Jay
Last Name: De Rocher
City: Bothell
State: Washington
Zip/Postal Code: 98021
Country: United States
Focus: Build
Status: Amateur
That's a very cool mandolin, thanks for sharing the photos. I would love to hear how it sounds. And, I learned a new word today: pliage. I've owned a number of mandos but they've all been F-style or a variation thereof. I've long admired old A-style mandolins like that Washburn though. There's that old joke that the scroll on F-style mandos is a $1000 strap button.


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