Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Mandolin for sale.

Well here it is! The Nava “Standard” Mandolin is now complete and on sale. As I said at the outset, my aim was to build an instrument that was more affordable to those musicians without deep pockets and not to compromise the quality of my work. By stripping back any unnecessary adornments, I feel that I’ve managed to build a beautifully sounding, playable hand made mandolin that can be sold at a very reasonable cost to the player

This mandolin has a western red cedar soundboard, maple back and sides and a mahogany and maple neck. I’ve also used cocobolo for the fingerboard, bridge, bindings and other detail; this beautiful, exotic wood really makes the instrument look special.
I’m very pleased with the outcome- this is the first time that I’ve used a cedar top on a mandolin and I’m extremely pleased with the sound of it, its has great sustain and volume and good tonal separation. Someone somewhere is going to be very happy with this mandolin!

Anyway, it’s up for sale on my website for 750 GBP including a Hiscox case. Shipping within the UK mainland is an additional 25 GBP.

So what’s next on the mandolin front? Well once this one has sold, I’ll start building Standard No. 2 and there’s also this matter of the e-mando!

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Saturday, June 25, 2011

Various Stuff!

Back reinforcement

I thought that you might like to see this clamp/jig that I made up for gluing the reinforcement strip down the centre of the back. It’s made from some U section steel with nuts captive within it. The clamp is clamped down at either end of the reinforcement strip and the machine screws can then be tightened up to apply pressure along its length. Hope you find it useful!

You’ll notice that I have the grain running along the length of the back rather than at 90 degrees, hence the books call it cross banding and I, a reenforcement strip. However, I prefer to do it this way. Why? Well- when the moisture content of wood changes, the wood will shrink or expand across the grain and not along its length. Also, the majority of moisture is lost from the end grain and really cross banding is nearly all grain! So, hopefully you can see that the back reinforcement strip with the grain running length-ways should be much more stable and lees likely to distort the back with changes of humidity.

Electric Mandolins!!!

I’ve had this piece of figured ash in the workshop for quite a number of years and the other day I picked up on a thread on the Mandolin Cafe forum (one of the more intelligent forums!) about building electric mandolins and ker-ching! Not knowing too much about e-mandos I posed a few questions and got back some very good responses, so watch this space..................

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Saturday, June 11, 2011

The Standard Mandolin (part II)

The Standard mandolin’s construction is now complete and this week I’ve had her strung up, in-the-white, prior to being finished. This is the first time that I’ve used a Western Red Cedar soundboard on a mandolin and I’m impressed with the sound so far. As with all of my mandolins, it has plenty of volume and sustain and the cedar seems to give extremely good tonal separation; chords really seem to come alive.

Here are a few pictures to whet your appetite. The cocobolo looks quite stunning so I’ve kept to it for the bridge and tailpiece cover.

As I said at the outset of this project, “time is the most expensive component of any hand made instrument” and having got this far with the mandolin, I now know the price that I’m going to have to sell it for. And that price is 750 GBP with a Hiscox case and I very much doubt if you’ll find a better deal than that for an entirely hand made, luthier built instrument of this quality!

Alan’s Model 1

On the guitar front (pardon the pun), I’m working on a new model 1 steel-string for Alan. You may remember that Alan is the guy who did that great demo of Sweet Georgia Brown on the hybrid archtop for me. This guitar is Indian rosewood with a cedar soundboard. I’ve just put together the rosette- a wooden one, but this time with the grain radial (inspired by my Aussie guitar making friend Pete!). It’s a bit trickier to make but I like the result and somehow it has a European look to it (well I thinks so!).


I’ve just got a commission for a Koa guitar- and managed to get this set of Koa direct from Hawaii. The photos don’t do it justice; the back has a really tight curl and once polished, it should look truly wonderful. I hope so anyway, as without doubt this was the most expensive back and sides that I have ever bought!!

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Sunday, June 05, 2011

At last Geoff’s OO steel-string is finished and ready to go!

At last Geoff’s OO steel-string is finished and ready to go!

As some of you may have gathered, I don’t like the idea of a UK luthier making slavish copies of American guitars; that said, I do like the OO shape! It works extremely well for a small-bodied 14 fret neck guitar, so in spite of myself, I was happy to build a guitar, for Geoff, to that shape. As you can see the only thing OOish is the shape of the body; I’ve kept to my headstock design and followers of the blog will know my thoughts on the Martin shape already!

This guitar has a 635mm scale length and although I may extol the virtues of 650mm scale, the shorter scale is easier to play and produces a warmer tone. Geoff wanted a guitar that not only was easy to physically play but gave up its sound without a fight and I think he’s got it here.

I try to do everything myself (with much support from Amanda); so apart from building instrument, there’s the website to maintain, the blog and videos. I’m finding photographing the instrument a bit of a challenge and one that I haven’t mastered yet. One of the trickiest aspects is photographing shiny surfaces without getting unwanted reflections. Here are some more photos of the OO; best I can do! That Honduras rosewood really is quite wonderful!

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