Thursday, July 02, 2015

Peter’s Mandola

In one of the previous posts you’d have seen the start of the tailpiece for Peter's mandola; here is the finished item, a juxtaposition of Indian rosewood, brass and stainless steel!
Also, I mentioned cutting the fret slots; here’s that fretboard being glued to the neck.
And here’s the front view with the compound radius put onto the ‘board, position markers inlaid and fretted.
And the back view…….
…..As I said previously, this mandola has been commissioned to match the black walnut Standard mandolin that Peter had awhile back. Eagle-eyed readers will notice that the mandolin had a walnut neck with maple laminations, but the mandola’s neck is a kind of negative image; maple with walnut laminations. Why? Well, there’s about 17% more tension in a set of mandola strings compared to a mandolin and the neck is also longer, so maple, being just that wee bit stiffer, makes a sensible choice.
 You’ll also notice that at this stage the neck is still square- just my preferred way of working!

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Monday, June 29, 2015

Mando… la & cello

Like many luthiers, I cut my fret slots using a special type of mitre box with various scale length templates.  
Here's my modified StewMac jig.
The fret slot templates are commercially available and are machined extremely accurately out of stainless steel, to ensure that the instrument is in tune with itself.  The trouble with this kind of jig is that you can be limited to your choice of scale length by the templates that are available.
For Peter’s mandola, I wanted to use a 410mm scale length which needless say isn’t available “over the counter.” So I was very pleased when I came across Carlos at  GW inPortugal who makes templates to fit the StewMac jig and was willing to custom make one for me at, I might add,  a reasonable price!
And here’s the mandocello; it’s just been set-up and I’m now working on some pin-point capos….more on those later!

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Thursday, June 18, 2015

Mandocello and more..........

Here are a couple of photos of the mandocello, now that it has been fretted and had a good clean-up.
You might think that this one is taking a long time to build…..and you’d be right! Although most aspects of the instrument had been designed before the build started, you simply can’t figure out everything until you see certain parts constructed and in front of you and that is why it’s a slow process building a one-off.
The next step is to make the tailpiece and although I’ve made quite a number them, this one, being a heavy duty ten-string version, needs some designing too.
You’ll notice that there are two ‘pieces being made, the second is for Peter’s mandola. Peter purchased Standard V from me in 2013 and he’s now commissioned a matching mandola. Always grateful when a past customer comes back for more!
Here are a few photos of the body now that it’s been bound.
Also I’ve been working on the design of a guitar for Roland, which is going to be a really interesting project. More on this one later!
Roland has also commissioned a mandolin, so at the moment I’m just preparing various components.
Looks interesting eh?

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Sunday, June 14, 2015

Instrument Archive

Well, I’ve finally got my Nava Instrument Archive up to date. As it stands, there are about 70 different instruments there. Many of my early ones are missing as they were built pre-digital photography and stuff simply didn’t get recorded.
Take a look at your leisure!
What would be really great, is to add links to any videos of the instruments being played by their owners or if you have a photo of you and your instrument I’d be happy to include it too.
Cheers Gary!

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Saturday, June 06, 2015

Mandocello coming together.....

Below is a sequence of photos to show the neck and fretboard going on to the mandocello. There were a few stages to go through; the dovetail fitting, then two pieces of rosewood which make up the fretboard support (with a touch of old school Gibson A influence), routing two slots so that the carbon fibre inserts run from under the nut down to the 20th fret.
Last but not least the fretboard itself.

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Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Alex's Twin-Point Completed

I’m glad to report that Alex’s twin-point has been completed and has arrived safely in Scotland.  Below are a few photos for you. The back is absolutely stunning; I just wish I could take better photos of shinny surfaces!

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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Binding the mandocello

I’ve just completed the bindings and purflings for Jonathan’s mandocello. The first thing you have to do is cut a rebate around the edges to take the strips of purfling and binding. Normally, it’s relatively straight forward, as you can sit a router on the body of the instrument itself. However, with a carved/arch top you have to be a bit more inventive! I fixed the router’s motor into a pillar drill stand, and then clamped the body back into its external mould- this allowed me to adjust the position of the body in space, so that the glued edge between the top and the sides was level.
With the router set to the correct height, the body could then be feed into the cutter and the rebate cut. However, it's always a good idea to go around the top with a good old-fashioned purfling cutter first- this helps to eliminate the grain tearing.
It proved to be remarkably stress-free, and got me thinking about the “True Channel” type router jigs sold by StewMac and others. Now I could spend a few hundred quid and buy one, but that would be too easy……………..watch this space!

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