Walnut Cittern

27th July 2019CBOM

Continuing a run of larger mandolin family instruments with my largest yet! This Long-scale Cittern was built for a customer in Scotland wanting to tune down to D.

With another fine paring of European Walnut and Swiss moon spruce.
Cittern

Had great fun playing with another mosaic rosette on the Cittern. Walnut has some of the best figuring of the native species. And it seemed a shame not to make the most of the gnarly grain patterns on the back and bring some to the face of the Cittern.

We came to a compromise on the 24.5″ scale, long enough to keep some tension on the bottom D but also short enough for some nimble tune playing.

An interesting build as always, and great to work with a customer who has played so many fine Citterns. Really helps getting to grips with the project when the customer has a clear idea of where they want to go with it.

Irish Bouzouki

7th July 2019CBOM

roette Its been a long time since I have made a classic Irish Bouzouki, and this I really enjoyed.

Built for a fantastic player and all-round nice guy on the Irish music scene in Bristol. He allowed me a few indulgences, like this rosette. An opportunity to use some of the gnarly grain of this walnut should not be missed.

There are lengthy debates on the best choice of tonewoods for Irish Bouzoukis. From my perspective, in the grand scheme of things, these are still relatively young instruments. So tonal structure is something still to be explored.

I went through the options with the customer and we landed up with: Swiss moon spruce top, European walnut back and sides and Rocklite fingerboard and bridge combo.

Rocklite is a fascinating material to work with and well worth looking into for your next build.

 

Here is the Ebano type rocklite on this 25.5″ Irish Bouzouki scale. It can be used as a direct replacement for ebony, and from my perspective at least is the future of environmentally responsible choices for tonewood.

 

European walnut produces a lovely warm yet crisp tone for this Irish bouzouki. And has some of the best figuring of native hardwood species.

 

 

 

 

Design features are an important consideration, I like to add a volute. This helps add strength to a notorious weak spot of most steel string instruments.

Some Irish Bouzouki players like to use sliding capos for fast key changes, and in that instant you may prefer to opt for a rear cap on the headstock instead.

However as newer designs like Thalia capos come along they can save the neck a lot of pain from all that scraping/sliding.

 

 

 

 

This Irish Bouzouki produces a lovely sparkling tone with plenty of grunt at the bottom end. More CBOMS to come soon!

10 String Fan Fret Mandolin

7th July 2019Mandolins

This was quite an interesting build for me, a multi-scale 10 string mandolin. Tuned from a bottom C through standard mandolin up to top E. The longer scale on the bass side allows for extra tension on the C string. Extra tension eliminates some of the sloppy tenancies of using thicker strings to tune down to C.

 

Proving to be a head scratcher to start with, but eventually coming round to it. The 12th fret/ body join is the only fret which could be considered truly straight to a standard fingerboard.

Slightly larger than a standard mandolin, with this body you get the extra depth to really use those lower tones. Remarkably the multi-scale doesn’t take much getting used to, once played for 5 minutes your hand rapidly become accustom to it.

As always with these larger instruments I make hand-cut solid brass tailpieces. Anchoring the strings to the tailblock this way really helps get the full tonal potential out of your instrument.