Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Archtop Mandolin

2018 saw the introduction of Archtop (or carved top) mandolins to my range. My archtops are not intended to be replicas of classic American instruments. The objective is to build a mandolin that is true to my aesthetic values and constructional techniques, based on decades of designing and making, whilst offering an instrument that has different tonal qualities to my popular and much-loved flat-tops. Each archtop mandolin is carved entirely by my hands from carefully selected, solid tonewoods- no CNC machinery or out-sourced pre-shaped plates are used.
Below is the first and you can see how it was made in a series of YouTube videos.

Friday, 30 March 2018

Early Classical Guitars

When I started at the London College of Furniture in the 1970s, I was quite surprised that we all had to start off by making a classical guitar. At that point in my life, I very much doubt that I had even heard any classical guitar music; my intention was to build solid bodies! However, in the first year I made a couple of Torres style classicals.
Then I made a couple of these ugly brutes- one I sold via The London Guitar Gallery.
The shape was used, pretty much, by all of the students at the LCF and we rather pretentiously referred to it as a “concert guitar”. The one above was knocking around in my workshop for years, Phil Hare took a shine to it so I gave to him; much better for it to be used than gather dust.
And here’s what Phil did with it!
Once I started doing repair work for a Spanish guitar shop in Fulham, I had the opportunity to see what a decent classical guitar was really like. So my classical shape changed to this:
My rosette design also became much more refined from this; using 1mm square mosaics…..
……to this; using 0.6mm mosaics.
 I built a number of these in my third year at the LCF and at least two were sold again via the London Guitar Gallery. The one above is made from Brazilian tulipwood and the photos were sent to me a couple for years ago by its current owner.

After leaving the London College of Furniture, I spent some time at the London Guitar Gallery, I made many more classical guitars. The original owner of this one sent me this photo a couple of years back too.
Whilst at LGG, classical guitarist Duncan James bought one of my guitars and a real high-light of this early part of my career was to see/hear my guitar played in concert at the Wigmore Hall.

Also somewhere around this time I built a couple of Flamenco guitars; one cypress with tuners and one rosewood with pegs- where are they? Your guess is as good as mine!
As you can see this early period hasn't been well documented by me, so it would be great to get hold of some more photos.

Saturday, 24 March 2018

Mandola

This is my current mandola design and spec for this particular instrument.
410mm scale length; neck/body joint at 13th fret.
35mm nut width.
Maple neck with walnut laminations, carbon fibre inserts.
Sitka spruce soundboard with bound sound hole.
Black walnut back and sides fully bound in maple.
Indian rosewood fretboard, compound radius, wide gold evo frets.
Rosewood bridge with bone saddle.
Handmade Nava designed tailpiece.
This mandola was commissioned to match Standard Mandolin V.
If you are interested in commissioning your own mandola, you’ll find contact details etc on my website.

English Walnut and Sitka Spruce with Headway transducer fitted


Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Nava Standard Plus Mandolins

I introduced the Standard Plus in 2012. The mandolin has a higher level of ornamentation than the regular Standard and it acoustically, benefits from my handmade tailpiece.
Indian Rosewood with Wenge neck


English Walnut, European Spruce


English Walnut, Cedar, Pearl Rosette
You can see and hear Chris playing this mandolin on his YouTube Channel.

Indian Rosewood, Red Spruce
 

Left handed; English walnut and red spruce 

Pau Ferro & Red Spruce

Quilted Maple with Black Walnut neck
(this mandolin lives in Japan)

Pau Ferro & Sitka Spruce
Macassar Ebony and few custom details!

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Twin Point Mandolins

My Twin-Point mandolin has subtly evolved over the years and here you can see all for them from the first maple one built in 2007 to the present. The head shape, bridge design and my own handmade tailpiece are the obvious changes and quite a few have custom features too! I‘ve just limited myself to a couple of selected photos per instrument (in most cases!)
The first.....
 

"The Red Mandolin"

 Quilted Maple

English walnut with cast Dean tailpiece
Richard supplied the cast Brian Dean tailpiece for his mandolin, which got me thinking about the development of my own design. You can hear Richard playing his mandolin here. The accompanying guitar is also Richard, playing a Nava Model Two guitar. Many thanks!

 English walnut

Cocobolo and Adirondack, "F" style head
At Brendan's request, this was the first of the F style heads 

Cocobolo and Adirondack


Cocobolo and Adirondack


3 piece Cocobolo back with custom "Family Tree" inlay


English Walnut and Adirondack


Indian Rosewood and Adirondack


Cocobolo and Adirondack with a touch of abalone



Cocobolo 

#14 Cocobolo and Red spruce
More details of my twin-points and other mandolins can be found on here my website