lap_steel_Weissenborn

Mandolins

149

Steel String

The soundboards on these instruments are steamed and clamped in a mold to dry for about a week. They are then finely shaped and reinforced with a carbon lattice. This makes the soundboard lighter and stronger than a carved top instrument. With light playing the volume exceeds that of standard instruments.

The saddle/bridge design that is used on all my mandolins is better suited to amplification than the traditional Gibson style bridge. A deep (7mm) saddle slot makes it easy to fit an undersaddle pickup and there is plenty of room to use shims for height adjustment.

I am using stainless steel frets because they last many times longer than the standard nickel silver.

watch videos > Redwing and Country Waltz

curve
carbonString

Carbon String

My other main mandolin is a fixed bridge version that uses Fluorocarbon strings. The tension is similar to classical guitar so it is a breeze to play. It is not as loud as my steel string version, but is louder than many commercial steel string instruments. On stage it works well with a K&K saddle pickup.

Here is a video playing it with fingers.

and another video playing it with a plectrum

Here is one using ukulele tuning

Live through a K&K undersaddle pickup

 

161

This is a 10 string version of an octave mandolin. It would probably be called a cittern by celtic musicians. It is tuned an octave below a normal mandolin and the extra high pair is tuned to A. The body is also tuned an octave below a mandolin and has a 19 inch scale. I was really impressed by the power and balance of this special order and would look forward to making another.

Here is a video of it

Another design option is to reduce the string length by one fret. This lowers the tension of the strings which is good for a guitar or fiddle player who doesn't want to adapt ot high tension mandolin strings.

An .011 gauge E string on a normal mandolin is tighter than the same gauge on a guitar, and is then doubled.

This Blackwood top version is an interesting variation. It has less warmth than the Cedar top but is balanced in a recording or on stage.

 

rubner

The zero fret system, tapered head and low head angle, tune much better than traditional style instruments. This is because there is almost no friction at the nut.

I am mostly using these 1:15 ratio Rubner brass tuning heads from Germany. (left)

I can also use 16:1 oval Gotoh 503 tuners (right) if the extra weight is not a problem.

503
tailpiece

The solid cast Ashton Bailey (left) is currently my standard tailpiece. The Allen MR-2 (right) can be ordered in brass which matches the brass heads.

The sides and back of the mandolin are double layered, using two 3mm layers to make 6mm. This helps the sound to project forwards like a banjo rim, and a heavy cast tailpiece adds to this effect.

allen

I use local Eucalypts on the majority of my mandolins. The mixture of stripe and fiddleback creates a look that I hope will raise the status of this undervalued timber.

On the left is a curved laminated back, but below is another design I call a "turtle back". I bend the sides on an iron, join them together and reinforce the center join so that it doesn't vibrate. Aside from less weight, I can't find much difference between the two except that I currently like the turtle back for the unusual look.

turtle back

Tom Chippindall is a mandolin player who worked with me for several years and helped me to develop these ideas. He is now producing his own designs using similar concepts.

lap_steel_Weissenborn