mandolin caroline lacombe

Mandolin Specifications

  • Top: Solid European Spruce
  • Back & Sides: Maple, Walnut or Cherrywood
  • Scale Lenght: 35cm (fret 0 to bridge)
  • Body dimensions: 63cm long – 23cm wide

*I like to include small details such as olive tree or maple decorations. *

“How can such a small mandolin sound so powerful?!!

Choosing the right wood for your Mandolins

When you are looking for the right mandolin; you have to choose between different woods, ask for availability.
And certainly, each of them has different tonal qualities. Here’s a little guide on the sound that our tonewoods will provide.

Maple Mandolin: Boosts hi-mid frequencies, a beautiful bright full sound, good sustain.

Walnut Mandolin: A bit like the Mahogany, boosts the low frequencies, giving the mandolin a warm velvet sound.

Cherrywood Mandolin: Good mid-range tone, beautiful grain, and big volume.

Mandolin sound demonstration

Curious about the sound? Here is a short video where you can hear one of the models of mandolin I build. This one is a flat top made out of walnut and spruce, it has a 35cm /13,75” scale, and is tuned GCAE.

The Mandolin, the Instrument

Instruments similar to the mandolin can be traced back as far as the 10thcentury in medieval Europe. They found their way from North Africa and existed in many shapes, forms, different numbers of strings and tunings.

Towards the Renaissance period, the mandolin was much closer to the lute in construction, the body would have been a much shallower shape with a gentle curve underneath it. The fingerboard and neck would have been shorter but also wider and it would have had more strings on it certainly made out of gut.

The Napolitan Mandolin

The Napolitan Mandolins can be traced back to the middle of the 18th century when Lucia in Naples had the idea of bending the soundboard on a hot iron to create an angle. This allowed the strings to be extended across to the tailpiece of the instrument. It created greater pressure downwards, enabling the instrument to take a higher tension of strings and therefore producing more sustain and more volume.

Baroque Mandolin – ‘Mandelino’

There was an instrument in Italy at the beginning of the 18th century called the ‘mandelino’ today referred to as the baroque mandolin. They coexisted throughout most of the 18th century, but the mandelino was eventually replaced by the Napolitan mandolin and its new tuning system based on fifths, like the violin.

Mandolins on Classical Music

One of the gloriest moments of the mandolins was when Motzart featured it on Don Giovanni Opera in Prague. It became, in fact, the stereotypical instrument used by a gentleman serenading a young lady to win her attention as a familiar scene that often came up in nineteenth-century operas. Even if you probably don’t expect to see or hear instruments such as the mandolin as part of an orchestra, you will be surprised to learn that among the composers who wrote for this instrument we can list:

  • Vivaldi
  • Handel
  • Beethoven
  • Verdi
  • Schoenberg
  • Stravinski
  • Prokofiev

Just to name a few of the more well-known composers for this particular instrument.

Early Mandolin Technique

In those days, they borrowed a lot of the violin techniques, particularly bowing studies; they translated quite well into methods for developing plectrum technique for string crossing and articulation.

Unlike the violin, however, the mandolin has two strings for each note (double orders) for a total of 8 strings. They’re in close pairs, are meant to be played as one note, but it’s the doubling of the strings which gives them their particular resonance and sustain.

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