• KR Strings Introduces the Mandolindo

    Introducing the "Mandolindo," a new sound from KR Strings.

    The MandoLindo

    KAILUA, HAWAII — Luthier Kilin Reece, the founder of KR Strings and creator of the Pono line of octave mandolins and ukuleles has introduced his latest creation, the Mandolindo, a four-stringed guitar bodied instrument with a mandolin scale that will have a list price in the neighborhood of $2K depending on tonewoods and sunburst or natural finish.

    The brand is slated to launch in June with retail representation in the U.S. to include Elderly Instruments, The Mandolin Store, Denver Folklore Center and Dusty Strings. A web site for the new line is currently in the works.



    About the new design, Reece told us: "As difficult as the last year has been, I know many of us under isolation and with a bit more time on our hands have finally gotten around to ideas that have been percolating for years. The design of this instrument has been kicking around in the back of my mind for a few decades. Finally working over the last year with my violin making partner Yam Uri Raz we got it off of the drawing board and into our hands and we are excited to share it with the Mandolin Cafe community!

    "We are going to be offering our Mandolindo in Spruce with either Rosewood or Mahogany back and sides (Curly Maple back and sides with Italian Spruce custom shop models featuring carved tops with F-holes are in the works ), 13.875 scale, radiused fingerboard, linear graduated tops with X bracing, premium ebony and bone appointments and a (familiar on the belly feeling) arched Mandolin back radius. These will be landing at most of my favorite dealers showrooms by mid-summer 2021."








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    Comments 27 Comments
    1. Jim Garber's Avatar
      Jim Garber -
      I wonder if they are planning a five-string for the future.
    1. Michael Romkey's Avatar
      Michael Romkey -
      Hmm. Interesting actually. Surprised it hasn’t been tried before. I second the five-string idea and raise it a cutout. I definitely would want to try one. It’s not a mandolin but I can see it becoming its own niche.
    1. REPO13's Avatar
      REPO13 -
      so, basically, a cavaquinho using the mandolin tuning.
      Other tunings used for Cavaquinho-
      D A B E, G G B D, D G B E, G C E A, etc.
    1. REPO13's Avatar
      REPO13 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
      I wonder if they are planning a five-string for the future.
      I see this instrument as just a different take, in scale and dimensions, of a cavaquinho or braguinha. A 5-string version is called a Rajo (hard to come by) -> https://www.egitana.pt/apc-rajao-550/p/2348

    1. Mandolin Cafe's Avatar
      Mandolin Cafe -
      I'll go ahead and say it: I told him I have to have one.
    1. Daniel Nestlerode's Avatar
      Daniel Nestlerode -
      Really cool!

      Nice to see people trying new things. It sounds great too on the video.

      Though, I am anticipating an 'acoustic' version of the argument we have in the electrics section: "It sounds too much like a guitar," "It needs 8 strings or it doesn't sound like a mandolin," etc.


      I would have a wish list when they are up and running a couple years with some good sales figures to help them feel brave:
      - a 5 string model with a 15" scale
      - a Mandolalindo with a 16" scale.
      - Optional internal pickup
      - Optional cutaway
      - Fret marker on the tenth fret

      Daniel
    1. MikeEdgerton's Avatar
      MikeEdgerton -
      Quote Originally Posted by Mandolin Cafe View Post
      I'll go ahead and say it: I told him I have to have one.
      Of course you did
    1. Jim Garber's Avatar
      Jim Garber -
      Paul LeStock makes a carved top acoustic single strings per course. My friend has a 5-string version. Beautiful instrument.
    1. Mandolin Cafe's Avatar
      Mandolin Cafe -
      Here's a bit of back story on this instrument from Kilin. Typically when we do a news release we keep it short and to the point. The internet is overrun with extremely short attention spans. I'd asked Kilin for a quote on how all this came about. It was a bit longer than what was needed in the article but fair game for posting in the comments. Some will find it enlightening, many won't bother. For those that will:

      As difficult as the last year has been, I know many of us under isolation and with a bit more time on our hands have finally gotten around to ideas that have been percolating for years. The design of this instrument has been kicking around in the back of my mind for a few decades. Finally working over the last year with my violin making partner Yam Uri Raz we got it off of the drawing board and into our hands and we are excited to share it with the Mandolin Cafe community!

      Two decades ago I was lucky to spend several years in Oklahoma, religiously hanging around Byron Berline’s fiddle shop in Guthrie, touring the midwest playing mando in a bluegrass band and backing up lots of great Texas Style contest fiddlers on rhythm guitar. When we were on the road playing backwoods little mom and pop festivals it was as common to come across folks that had played with Bill Monroe as it was to find relatives and band members of Bob Wills Texas Playboys, and in the repertoire of the campground sessions you got to hear this great mix of musical styles. These players didn’t flinch going from straight ahead driving Bluegrass to the swing of a Benny Thomasson or Texas Shorty arrangement of fiddle tunes like “Dusty Miller” or “Sally Good’n”. That Great Plains Texas style of fiddling to me combined everything I loved in American music, and as a mandolin player I found myself trying to imitate the acrobatic melodic fiddle sound on eight plucked strings. I began imagining a new instrument that a hero like Tiny Moore would have dug if he ever found himself sitting on the back of a pickup in one of these jam sessions, without a battery powered amp for his Fender Mandocaster.

      A few years later I got to hang and play with fiddle maestro Paul Anastasio at a NAMM show in Anaheim California, and he mentioned that when teaching swing fiddle intensive workshops he liked to tune up soprano ʻukuleles in fifths to teach chord theory to his students (Soprano ʻuke is pretty much exactly the same scale as mandolin). When I got back to Hawaiʻi I tried it out but the neck and string spacing were so much wider it just felt a bit awkward, and the tension and feel of a pick on nylon strings didnʻt quite mesh for me. So I took an old Strad-O-Lin that I had kicking around the workshop and made a new bridge, plugged four of the holes in the headstock and was pretty impressed with the feel and tone, it really sounded great and felt natural under the fingers. I loaned it to the fiddle player in our Bluegrass band, and she went nuts over it. I never got it back.

      Many luthiers building fretted instruments at some point take a dive into the realm of violin making. Violin makers have been documenting their techniques and tricks for a very long time. In 2015 I made a pilgrimage to Cremona Italy to try and get a glimpse of Stradivariʻs luthiery world and learn what I could about traditional Italian violin making. An Israeli luthier answered a couchsurfing post and I met up with him in a 14th century palazzo that had been converted into a private violin making school. He was just finishing up five years of study in traditional Cremonese violin making and we became fast friends comparing coffee making methods and respective luthiery traditions. He introduced me to a wild and crazy international gang of violin makers, all deep under the spell of sharp hand tools and oil varnish recipes, graduation charts and the quest for the perfect slice of Alpine Spruce. Late night into early morning jam sessions found these guys and gals bouncing between Django Reinhardt, Edith Piaf and the Gypsy Kings, violins, mandolins, accordions and saxophones ringing out across the ancient neighborhood streets and alleys of Stradivari and Guarneri. I had picked up a mandolin at an antique market in Paris before swinging south to Italy and somewhere in the middle of one of these jams (and a few many bottles of wine) we clipped four of the eight strings and handed it over to a gypsy fiddler. He cut into a blistering version of Tiger Rag and followed it with Nuages -bending into notes just like Django and Stephane Grappeli, and filling in the pauses with octave leaping arpeggios. During the next morning's discussion over stiff espresso and aspirin, we found ourselves convinced that this concept warranted some serious design work and a few 3D sketches in wire and wood.

      Fast forward a few years and the violin maker Yam Uri Raz (https://yamviolins.com/) has relocated to Hawaiʻi, where in between learning to surf and perfecting a recipe for tropical Sangria he is building world class violins, violas and cellos. Under COVID we got to work sketching and carving out ideas for this new instrument we are calling the “Mandolindo”. We have been passing around the prototypes to players here in Hawai'i and around the world who all say they can’t put the thing down. My violin playing friends are stoked to hear their fiddle trills and embellishments fall into place on a plucked instrument, and are seeing chord shapes for the first time appear under their fingers. I think Tiny Moore would approve, and Django and Stephane would get a kick. Bill maybe not so much, though one can't be sure.....

      We are going to be offering our Mandolindo in Spruce with either Rosewood or Mahogany back and sides (Curly Maple back and sides with Italian Spruce custom shop models featuring carved tops with F-holes are in the works… ), 13.875” scale, radiused fingerboard, linear graduated tops with X bracing, premium ebony and bone appointments and a (familiar on the belly feeling) arched Mandolin back radius. These will be landing at most of my favorite dealers showrooms including: Elderly Instruments, The Mandolin Store, Dusty Strings and The Denver Folklore Center by mid summer 2021 and will have a list price of around $2K depending on tonewoods and sunburst or natural finish.

      We invite you to pick a tune and drop us a line, we think you will agree with us that the old saying is really true after all, “Less is Four”.
    1. Jim Garber's Avatar
      Jim Garber -
      Quote Originally Posted by Mandolin Cafe View Post
      Kilin: I began imagining a new instrument that a hero like Tiny Moore would have dug if he ever found himself sitting on the back of a pickup in one of these jam sessions, without a battery powered amp for his Fender Mandocaster.
      Yet another reason for a five-string model is Tiny's music. When I was at Ashokan one time I had my 10 string Vega mandolin with me and he tried it and almost bought it—I think he was planning on doing an acoustic recording. But he decided not to buy it probably because of the double courses. But, I am sure he would want that extra C-string.

      For me, I would prefer the four string. They look really nice and good price point for a quality instrument.
    1. John Soper's Avatar
      John Soper -
      Nice concept and (from the video) execution! A 5-string would be great also.
    1. Bill McCall's Avatar
      Bill McCall -
      Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
      Paul LeStock makes a carved top acoustic single strings per course. My friend has a 5-string version. Beautiful instrument.
      With a cutaway. And a floating humbucker
    1. KR Strings's Avatar
      KR Strings -
      Quote Originally Posted by Daniel Nestlerode View Post
      Really cool!

      Nice to see people trying new things. It sounds great too on the video.

      Though, I am anticipating an 'acoustic' version of the argument we have in the electrics section: "It sounds too much like a guitar," "It needs 8 strings or it doesn't sound like a mandolin," etc.


      I would have a wish list when they are up and running a couple years with some good sales figures to help them feel brave:
      - a 5 string model with a 15" scale
      - a Mandolalindo with a 16" scale.
      - Optional internal pickup
      - Optional cutaway
      - Fret marker on the tenth fret

      Daniel

      Noted Sir!! These are all things I dig as well....
    1. KR Strings's Avatar
      KR Strings -
      Quote Originally Posted by REPO13 View Post
      I see this instrument as just a different take, in scale and dimensions, of a cavaquinho or braguinha. A 5-string version is called a Rajo (hard to come by) -> https://www.egitana.pt/apc-rajao-550/p/2348

      I recently curated an exhibition here in Hawai'i with Bishop Museum, and we featured several pre 1900 instruments made by Augusto Dias, Manuel Nunes and Jose Do Espiritu Santo, one of which was a Rajao, but it featured gut strings. I definitely like the 5 string idea! Thanks for the feedback!
      -Kilin

      - - - Updated - - -

      Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
      I wonder if they are planning a five-string for the future.
      I am on it! Thanks for the comments!

      -Kilin
    1. Jacob's Avatar
      Jacob -
      Rajo from FolkReps. (nfi)
    1. CES's Avatar
      CES -
      Very cool concept!
    1. soliver's Avatar
      soliver -
      Where is the video?... looked all over even searched YT, couldn't find it!
    1. journeybear's Avatar
      journeybear -
      Follow the link in the OP, or here. It takes you to the full press release. Then scroll down. Looks and sounds very nice. There are also several photos of a few instruments.
    1. Reywas's Avatar
      Reywas -
      Some ukulelist is going to buy this by accident and go from confused to MAS in half an hour.
    1. Jim Garber's Avatar
      Jim Garber -
      Quote Originally Posted by soliver View Post
      Where is the video?... looked all over even searched YT, couldn't find it!
      video is on Vimeo not YouTube. Ah, I got it to embed here.