Tuesday, April 30, 2013

In the white

All the construction of the next Standard mandolin is complete, as you can see in the photos below.
I really like the contrast between the American black walnut and the maple. With the “woodwork” complete, it’s been strung up and the action and intonation set-up. I’ll leave it to settle for a few days and then strip it back down and start applying the finish.
Not too long before she will be available for sale!
Work has started on the next two instruments; Nadim’s Hare signature guitar and John’s Standard mandolin. I find that when working on a mandolin and a guitar at the same time, I’m constantly double checking dimensions;  pieces of wood for the guitar look too big and by comparison pieces for the mandolin look too small!

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Friday, April 19, 2013

Standard Mandolin V

The next Standard mandolin (number 5) is well underway. This one has American Black Walnut back and sides and a Black Walnut neck with maple laminations. In order to keep the walnut and maple theme going I wanted to use maple bindings.
I always bend bindings to fit each rebate individually.
I don’t normally use purfling on my Standard range but as the maple binding wouldn’t look right next to the light spruce soundboard, I thought that I would include one very thin black line to offer some contrast. And I’m very pleased with the way it turned out.
The walnut is perfectly quarter-sawn and I’ve included a little of the sapwood to spice things up! Can’t wait to get some finish on it!
 Here's the head, with a burr walnut overlay-
This mandolin should be completed in about a months’ time and will be up for sale at the price of 770 GBP (including a Hiscox case) mainland UK shipping is an extra 30 GBP. Send me an email if you’re interested in claiming it! Bye-the-way, at the time of writing the e-mando is still available.
There are two threads on the Mandolin Café forum that you might be interested in; click on the links below.

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Friday, April 12, 2013

English Walnut Standard Plus

I’ve just completed this English Walnut Standard Plus for Tony and it will be shipped off to him soon. I love this walnut; it’s such a good wood to work, looks brilliant once finished and makes a great sounding mandolin! 3 out of 3 ain’t bad!
Here are some choice photos for you.

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Monday, April 08, 2013

E-mando completed (and for sale)

I’ve just completed the e-mando and I've been having great fun playing it. We've put together a video to demonstrate it, but not being a musician, I don’t think that I can show its true potential- you’ll have to use your imagination!
Rather than spending too much time talking in the video, I’ll give you my rationale behind this particular mandolin’s design here in the blog.
Having seen a number of bands playing live, using poorly amplified acoustic mandolins, I wanted to build something that a gigging mandolin player could regularly use amplified, with the minimum amount of fuss. Or, of course, any other player who wants to try a different voice.
I wanted the e-mando to look and feel like a mandolin rather than a mini-guitar. So many of the solid body mandolins that you see are scaled down versions of classic solid guitar designs and this look just isn’t for me.
The instrument is finished in Tru-oil and wax which gives a wonderful tactile surface and enhances the natural beauty of the woods used.

Thinking that the e-mando’s player could be on his/her feet for a couple of hours, ergonomics are an important consideration.
The top edge of the body is chamfered on both sides so that there are not any sharp edges to dig into the left arm.
A 32mm thick body keeps the weight down to just under 2 kg and comparatively light open gear mandolin tuners help to keep the mandolin balanced.

With the neck sloping backwards and a 20mm high bridge this e-mando feels like a traditional mandolin to play.
The use of an end pin jack-socket means that the lead and/or jack plug doesn’t interfere with the player.
The fingerboard has a compound radius and this coupled with the wide evo fret wire and a Tru-oil "speed neck" makes for a very easy to play instrument.
I wanted the e-mando to offer great versatility without overly sophisticated (and pricey!) built in electronics or the need to change batteries.
There are two pick-ups; one humbucker and a piezo. The humbucker has volume and tone controls and a toggle switch to allow series/parallel switching: a centre off position allows for the pick-up to be completely turned off. These simple controls offer an amazingly wide tonal variation.
The piezo transducer is mounted in the bridge, under the saddle to give an approximation of an acoustic sound; a second toggle switch allows this pick-up to be turned on or off.  To get the best from this piezo it should be used with an external pre-amp.
The out-put is via a stereo jack-socket and the use of a Y-lead (supplied) allows the two signals to be treated separately. Alternatively the jack socket is wired so that you can use a standard lead and just use the output from the humbucker.
I’ve designed a tailpiece to take ball-end strings. Having a magnetic pick-up means that nickel wound strings are required and I think that in the UK there is a much greater variety of ball-ended strings to choose from, compared to loop-end. I’ve made up a custom set of strings 11 to 36 using electric guitar strings and feel that this range helps to balance the volume from string to string. Buying custom strings is really easy from somewhere like Stringbusters and this set cost around 6 quid to put together.
Well, I hope that the above coupled with the video gives you a good in-sight in to the rationale behind this mandolin’s design.
As I said, in the video, this e-mando is currently (June 2013) for sale; the price of £700 includes a stereo y lead and a semi-rigid gig-bag, mainland UK shipping would be an extra £30. Alternatively, if you fancy having a custom one built, I’m your man! Cheers!


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Monday, April 01, 2013

Archive Update

For those who are interested, I’ve been working on my instrument archive and all the solid body guitars that I have any records of, are now recorded. Also I’ve just added a new post with my early classical guitars. Thanks for showing interest.
Early Nava classical guitars