Obsessed with building an F5 Mandolin.

Freeman Keller

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I did build one but it was from a Siminoff kit

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Siminoff Mandolin - back.JPG


Start by getting his book on building the bluegrass mandolin

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1bad914

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I have done a bit of research on Mr Loar. I have also watched a lot of videos of builds. This will most likely not happen until next fall/winter. I may start getting the wood together this summer. Slow build. I am lucky to have a local retired doctor that has built quite a few of them. I will most definitely be picking his brain a lot.
 

Freeman Keller

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My kit came with all the little scrolly blocks precut and the top and back were rough shaped on a duplicarver. The dovetail was cut - tiny little thing. I did a lot of tapping and listening and trying to figure out exactly what Loar and Siminoff were talking about. I actually got to sit in a voicing course by Siminoff at one of the GAL conventions. A lot has changed since then, I would certainly use that FFT software that I used on the archtop. I'm pretty sure Siminoff has retired, his website is still up but just barely

 

RickyRicardo

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Back in the late 70's a friend bought a 1912 F2 from Mandolin Brothers which he still has today and is in beautiful shape. He wanted to build an F5 and had a great book with full size blueprints. I don't know if it's the same one Freeman pointed out but I thought it was a fantastic idea but way too challenging at the time. He never did build one.

I'd like to see how you make one so looking forward to it!
 

crazydave911

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I'd watch videos of Jerry Rosa. He has built pretty much everything but specializes (and loves playing) in F5 mandolins. He has a uniquely common sense approach that is easy to follow, especially on tap testing. You won't be sorry 🙂
P.S. He highly recommends redwood for the top (as do I). It works like butter and will get you the maximum volume in pretty much anything 😉
 

1bad914

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I'd watch videos of Jerry Rosa. He has built pretty much everything but specializes (and loves playing) in F5 mandolins. He has a uniquely common sense approach that is easy to follow, especially on tap testing. You won't be sorry 🙂
P.S. He highly recommends redwood for the top (as do I). It works like butter and will get you the maximum volume in pretty much anything 😉
It is Mr. Rosa’s fault I have this obsession. I started watching his Worlds greatest Mandolin series. Sigh. He owns a Loar, he dismantled it and took all the measurements of everything! The problem is he is very possessive of those measurements, to the point of blacking out portions of video that may show them. Still fun to watch.
 

1bad914

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Sometimes a decent kit build can be darn instructive, particularly for something that's on a completely different highway than one normally travels.
Jim,
I am not being critical of kits at all. My guitar building journey started with a $90 tele kit. Great way to learn the process. It is how I tell a newbie to get started. I just want to experience the entire build from a pile of wood to an instrument. I should have been a bit more clear to start with.
 

howardlo

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I did build one but it was from a Siminoff kit

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Start by getting his book on building the bluegrass mandolin

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I built one from scratch back in the early ‘80’s using that same book and blueprints of a 1920’s Gibson F-5 while I was playing mandolin in a very good bluegrass band. Still have the book.

It was the first instrument I ever built. Nothing like starting out on something really hard to do! I did it with minimal tools and no experience (other than furniture making). Hand carving the back and top was really time consuming, especially the maple back. I made a long reaching dial indicator to measure the thickness of the top and back. They are thicker in the center, taper toward the edges, then thicker again at the edges. I managed to get them correct within a couple thousandths. The binding (especially around the headstock and curl on the upper bout) was by far the hardest part. Turned out well and played it in that band for years and still have it. It does need a refret now.

Building that took an amazing amount of time and made me understand why F-5 mandolins are so expensive. Not a project I would ever care to do again.
 

crazydave911

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It is Mr. Rosa’s fault I have this obsession. I started watching his Worlds greatest Mandolin series. Sigh. He owns a Loar, he dismantled it and took all the measurements of everything! The problem is he is very possessive of those measurements, to the point of blacking out portions of video that may show them. Still fun to watch.
He has MANY other mandolin build videos, often 8 part or more. Look up some of the older ones to get an idea of a standard build. The one you referenced will drive you CRAZY 🤯. That one is only his second with quilted maple. And as he says many times, if he had started with quilted maple his first would have been his last 😳. The older videos also give you his overall philosophy which is sound and grounded in experience (he has built more than 40 Mando's. Guitars are in the teens and fiddles before YouTube). I'd recommend redwood or spruce top and curly maple or sycamore back and sides. Not my bias BTW, he still has his best sycamore Mando and it's outstanding
 

Jim_in_PA

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Jim,
I am not being critical of kits at all. My guitar building journey started with a $90 tele kit. Great way to learn the process. It is how I tell a newbie to get started. I just want to experience the entire build from a pile of wood to an instrument. I should have been a bit more clear to start with.
I absolutely understand. I guess my statement should be more of a general thing that there's no harm in learning from a decent kit if one is more comfortable with that. I think that folks with a lot less woodworking and building experience than you may benefit more from that approach. You, however, have a lot of skills that can adapt to this kind of challenging project! (I'd also be prone to just jumping in, too...)

I agree about the comments regarding Rosa's videos...I've enjoyed quite a few of them and found them to be inspiring toward maybe tackling some acoustic instruments of some sort. Maybe even a mando at some point.
 

telepraise

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I built one. The carving, binding, and finishing of the scroll adds like another 40% to the work load. One was enough, my subsequent 4 builds were all A's.

For a scratch build, get familiar with finger planes, gouges, and curved scrapers. You definitely need a deep engagement dial caliper.

Haven't seen Rosa's videos but you'll need a good set of plans and a hot pipe for bending rims. For a first build, stay on the heavy side. Going 0.010" too thin, especially in the recurve area can have a dramatic impact on tone and volume. Some string them up in the white to see how they sound, then enlarge the F holes or thin the top and back plates to get the tone they're looking for (but they of course know what they're doing).

If you haven't been there yet, The Mandolin Cafe is THE place to go for all things mandolin. Be patient and enjoy the ride (you're probably looking at a 100 hour investment).
 

MickM

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I built one. The carving, binding, and finishing of the scroll adds like another 40% to the work load. One was enough, my subsequent 4 builds were all A's.

For a scratch build, get familiar with finger planes, gouges, and curved scrapers. You definitely need a deep engagement dial caliper.

Haven't seen Rosa's videos but you'll need a good set of plans and a hot pipe for bending rims. For a first build, stay on the heavy side. Going 0.010" too thin, especially in the recurve area can have a dramatic impact on tone and volume. Some string them up in the white to see how they sound, then enlarge the F holes or thin the top and back plates to get the tone they're looking for (but they of course know what they're doing).

If you haven't been there yet, The Mandolin Cafe is THE place to go for all things mandolin. Be patient and enjoy the ride (you're probably looking at a 100 hour investment).
Like he said.https://www.mandolincafe.com/
These guys are hard core. Mandolins 24/7 365.
 

Freeman Keller

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I absolutely understand. I guess my statement should be more of a general thing that there's no harm in learning from a decent kit if one is more comfortable with that. I think that folks with a lot less woodworking and building experience than you may benefit more from that approach. You, however, have a lot of skills that can adapt to this kind of challenging project! (I'd also be prone to just jumping in, too...)

I agree about the comments regarding Rosa's videos...I've enjoyed quite a few of them and found them to be inspiring toward maybe tackling some acoustic instruments of some sort. Maybe even a mando at some point.
For what it is worth, I am a great believer in building your first one or two acoustic instruments from a good quality kit. Most first time builders do not have a thickness sander or side bending setup, and having all the bits and pieces in one box makes things much easier. Depending on the kit you can have the rosette routed for you, neck rough shaped, fretboard slotted. Some suppliers like LMII allow you to customize your kit as you order it. An acoustic kit is totally different from most electric kits (just as acoustic guitars are very different from electric). My first two acoustic guitars were made from quality kits - they are fine instruments as is my mandolin.

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Siminoff no longer offers his kits, here is an F5 from LMII

 
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1bad914

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I built one. The carving, binding, and finishing of the scroll adds like another 40% to the work load. One was enough, my subsequent 4 builds were all A's.

For a scratch build, get familiar with finger planes, gouges, and curved scrapers. You definitely need a deep engagement dial caliper.

Haven't seen Rosa's videos but you'll need a good set of plans and a hot pipe for bending rims. For a first build, stay on the heavy side. Going 0.010" too thin, especially in the recurve area can have a dramatic impact on tone and volume. Some string them up in the white to see how they sound, then enlarge the F holes or thin the top and back plates to get the tone they're looking for (but they of course know what they're doing).

If you haven't been there yet, The Mandolin Cafe is THE place to go for all things mandolin. Be patient and enjoy the ride (you're probably looking at a 100 hour investment).
Thanks for the info. I usually have 80 hours into an acoustic build, so 100 does not seem bad.
 

jimmywrangles

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SheldonP

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Go for it! 95% of what I learned about building instruments was in the late 70's in Bob Givens' shop, watching and helping him build mandolins and guitars. (If you don't know who Bob is, look up Robert L. Givens. His F styles are among the most coveted mandolins ever made.) If you can build a good F-5 mando, you can build anything.
 
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