I’ve been building Mandolins in my 400 sqft shop, located just east of Renton, Wa. in the cascade foothills, for about 4 yrs now. My goal is to build traditionally styled mandolins based on the Loar F5 & A5 original designs using the only the highest quality materials, hardware, using innovative engineering & construction techniques for the professional musician.
As an electrical engineer with a very strong background in electronic testing, I believe in applying modern engineering techniques to the traditional art of building mandolins. Some of the advancements the I have incorperated in my construction process include the Acoustic Tuning of the soundboard and backboard plats and modification of the Fret Scale along with string compensation, accounting for fretted string tension, to provide perfect intonation over the ENTIRE fret scale.
Acoustically tuning soundboards in one form or another has been around for well over a hundred years and is one of the defining traits of the Gibson Loar Mandolins of the early 1920’s, the widely accepted “Stradivarius” of mandolins. Different techniques have been used over the years ranging for “Chlandi patterns” to “Tap Tuning”. From an engineering standpoint, Tap tuning is called “Model analysis” and is a very well established engineering technique for accurately measuring the resonant frequencies of a body, like a mandolin body, and is used by the world leading manufacturers from airplanes to automobiles! What is different from other Luthiers is that I use an Agilent 35670 digital spectrum analyzer to very accurately measure ALL of the resonant frequencies of a soundboard (using a calibrated hammer and accelerometers!) which allows me to consistentaly tune soundboards for maximum resonance across a specific range of notes on the fret board. The result is an instrument that really “stands out“, “Barks”, “sings”, cuts through” however you want to describe it, in the note range that you normally like to play. Model Analysis is what enables the powerful, balanced tone, consistantly from our mandolins.
Intonation is another improvement that I’ve been able to achieve through implementaion of a technique developed by Gary Magliari at the Guild of American Luthiers called the Tension Compensated Fret Scale. This technique allows me to compensate for the slight ‘Sharpness” of notes fretted above the 7th fret due to action height and increased string tension (thus sharping notes) during fretting. We’ve solved this problem by accurately modeling the string tension increase during fretting at each fret position and then modifying the fret scale and providing compensation at both the nut and bridge. The end result is that every fret intonates perfectly, all the way up the neck!