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In creating our octave mandolin, we’ve pulled together a variety of specs and influences to create something with a unique voice and aesthetic. We found inspiration in vintage archtop and tenor guitars.
The ergonomics and size of the instrument needed to be considered carefully to not only ensure incredible sound, but also be comfortable for a mandolin player—this was often overlooked when it came to guitar bodied octave mandolins. The scale length and fretting hand stretch is always a consideration with octave mandolins, but equally important for comfortable playing is how the right arm reaches around the body of the instrument. The dimensions and flat back of our octave mandolin body yield something quite different than what is found on the market today.
As a reference we looked at C2 and C4 Martin guitars from the 1930s—these instruments were archtop guitars based on the body frame of a flat top guitar. We were able to get our hands on two original tops which had been removed from these Martin models by our good friend Joe Konkoly, head of the world renowned Elderly Instruments repair shop. Joe is a master luthier specializing in large jobs like converting the 30’s era Martin archtops to flattops as desired by many modern day players. While the Martin archtops are largely overlooked amongst other vintage examples, we recognized some very unique and desirable design qualities. They had a very unusual geometry to the arching of the top as well as the graduation. This arching, particularly the high peak of the arch running down the center of the instrument, yields a vibrant high end frequency response quite suitable for the octave mandolin. Increasing the volume of the instrument while keeping the balance and the articulation across all the strings was very important to us. We also spent a lot of time working on the proper string gauges for each course, paying a lot of attention to the feel of the string tension while playing the instrument.
Top: Italian Alpine Spruce
Back/ Neck / Sides: Figured Maple
Bridge / Fingerboard: Ebony
Tailpiece: Nugget® designed by Mike Kemnitzer (Nickel Plated)
Binding: Multi-ply Grained Ivoroid
Pick Guard: Black Phenolic
Nut Width: 1-13/32”(36mm)
Fingerboard Radius: 12.5” (318mm) at nut, 17.1" (435mm) at 20th fret
Scale Length: 22” (559mm)
Body Length: 445mm
Body Width at lower bout: 347mm (13.7”)
Body Width at upper bout: 257mm (10.125 “)
Depth of Body: At Endpin: 80mm (3.15”)
At Heel: 65mm (2.6”)
Finish: Nitrocellulose Lacquer
Strings: Northfield Archtop Octave Phosphor Bronze
Case: Hardshell Fiberglass
All instruments from the Old Town School Music Store are professionally inspected and set-up before shipping, and directly support the missions, programs, and continued growth of the Old Town School of Folk Music.
Questions? Message us anytime!