I thought that it was about time to share a few thoughts
about the Tenor Mandola and the Octave Mandolin that I’m building for Adrian.
Firstly, as Adrian wanted two matching instruments, I’ve cut all the component
parts, for both instruments, from the same pieces of wood. Here for example are
the necks, head overlays and sides....
The back and sides are Indian Rosewood which is my default
setting; tonally it’s a wood that never lets you down. I'm using spruce soundboards from the Black Sea area; I bought a number of these many years ago and they
have worked very well on mandolins and a mandocello and have a bright, ringing
Both instruments have sapele necks (you can read about their construction here
). I’ve been using sapele on quite a few necks lately. It
looks like mahogany and has a similar density, but there is something about the
way that it works that I like; it seems very crisp and precise, if that makes
sense. Also, it seems very stiff, making it ideal for necks. Both of the necks
are 14 frets long; apart from easier access to the upper frets (for the player), the main reason
for 14 frets, is to locate the bridges as near to the centre of the bodies as
possible, which most luthiers agree, will produce a better sounding instrument.
Although I never use an adjustable truss in mandolins, I decided to put one in
the octave as its neck is just over 300mm long and there is more tension in the
There is, in fact, about 15% more tension in the TM and OM
strings compared to a mandolin. So apart the OM neck having an adjustable truss
rod (both have two strips of carbon-fibre as standard), both of the soundboards will have proportionally heavier bracing as the downward force on the bridge
will also be 15% greater.
In the photo below you can see the rims completed. The
rosewood sides are joined together with Honduras cedar blocks; these are
laminated from thinner pieces which substantially reduce the chances of them
ever splitting- particularly at the tail end where there will be a 12mm hole
for a jack socket and where the tailpiece will be anchored with screws.
As far as the ornamentation is concerned Adrian wants clean
lines so both instruments are being built to a similar spec as the Standard
mandolin, but with the upgrade of my handmade tail pieces.
These two instruments will be completed later this year, so
watch this space!
If you are interested in commissioning your own TM or OM feel free to send me an email and I’ll be happy to answer any questions that you may have.
Labels: Gary Nava luthier, luthier made, octave mandolin, tenor mandola