• New in Print - The Art of Mandolin Making by Alfred Woll

    The Art of Mandolin Making by Alfred Woll

    WELZHEIM, GERMANY — Alfred Woll has announced the publication of his new book, The Art of Mandolin Making - Historical Development and Construction of the Mandolin, available in German and English.

    About the book Woll told us, "Until now, no definitive book about building classical mandolins has been published in any language. With that in mind, I have decided to try to fill the gap and produce an exhaustive work on the subject. Forty years of experience as a mandolin builder coupled with extensive research on the subject have enabled me to acquire thorough knowledge on both historical and practical aspects of that topic, and I would like to make my knowledge generally available."

    Beautifully photographed, the hardcover book (9" x 11.5") includes 336 pages with over 800 color photographs, 33 double-sided plates and 15 scaled plans of Embergher, Calace and Seiffert mandolins.

    In the historical section, Woll explains how the development of the mandolin in Italy was influenced by the masters Vinaccia, Embergher and Calace, how it spread in Germany, and how a new mandolin model was created there by Reinhold Seiffert. In the practical part that follows, Woll lets us look over his shoulder in his workshop, providing an insight into how his mandolins are made, supported by many detailed photos and construction drawings.

    The first part of this book deals with the historical development of the mandolin. Special emphasis is placed on the life and production of the three leading Italian workshops at the beginning of the 20th century, namely those of the Vinaccia family, Luigi Embergher and Raffaele Calace. Images of their most famous and beautiful instruments appear on double-sided plates, and particulars of their construction are discussed on the basis of many detailed photographs and scaled building plans. In addition, special attention is paid to the development of mandolin building in Germany from the end of the 19th century up to the present day. A whole chapter is devoted to the career of Reinhold Seiffert. This chapter describes how his new mandolin model came into being. Alfred Woll complements this discussion by explaining particularities of his own modern mandolins.

    The second part of the book is devoted to the practicalities of mandolin construction. Based on his experience, Woll makes available all the considerations and practical information necessary to construct a high-quality modern classical soloist model mandolin. Starting with the criteria for selecting good timber and concluding with complete blueprints, he uses many informative photographs to explain every single step. This gives the interested mandolinist insight into how the instrument comes into being, and also the ambitious luthier valuable information and practical advice for ensuring the survival of an ancient and venerable craft.

    An appendix contains advice and instructions for the player on how to look after the instrument, a chapter about the career of the author, and extensive notes and a bibliography.


    Foreword by Prof. em. Marga Wilden-Hüsgen

    Part I: Historical development

    1. The origin of the mandolin
    2. Mandolin making in Italy around 1900
    3. The Mandolin in Germany
    4. The origins of the Seiffert mandolin
    5. Steps to your own model

    Part II: Building a modern mandolin

    6. Plans, forms and choosing wood
    7. Making the soundboard
    8. Constructing the bowl
    9. Attaching the soundboard
    10. Making the neck
    11. Fingerboard and neck profile
    12. Finishing
    13. Bridge, tuning machines and setup


    14. Care and maintenance
    15. How the author came to mandolin making


    Ordering is available directly from the author for $84 plus $18 shipping (ordering link follows below). Payment can be made via PayPal or bank transfer. The book will be available from Elderly Instruments in August.

    Additional Information

    Comments 14 Comments
    1. John Bertotti's Avatar
      John Bertotti -
      I look forward to getting this book. How long will it be before Elderly has them in? If anyone knows.
    1. Mandolin Cafe's Avatar
      Mandolin Cafe -
      Likely within two weeks is what Alfred told us. I have a note in to the book person at Elderly to let us know so we can share that news.
    1. Jeff Hildreth's Avatar
      Jeff Hildreth -
      Elderly's web site says "SOLD OUT".
    1. Mandolin Cafe's Avatar
      Mandolin Cafe -
      Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Hildreth View Post
      Elderly's web site says "SOLD OUT".
      That is simply what the content management system uses when the product has been added but is not yet available.
    1. Jim Garber's Avatar
      Jim Garber -
      Yes, I clicked the "email me when available" button.
    1. Mandolin Cafe's Avatar
      Mandolin Cafe -
      Alfred sent me a copy of the book. It's simply stunning, truly an epic bit of work of the very highest quality.
    1. Alfred Woll's Avatar
      Alfred Woll -
      There are books for Eldery on the way from Germany. But because of Covid there are large delays for shipping right now. The US customs is not managing all the parcels.

      But besides from Elderly you can get books directly from me. Shipping a single book takes about 2 weeks from Germany to the United States.
    1. Graham McDonald's Avatar
      Graham McDonald -
      As someone who has also written a book on building mandolins, I can only say this is a superb publication The historical side alone is excellent and the clear and logical approach to building a modern German bowlback mandolin shows and, more importantly, explains every step of the process. Even if you never make a bowlback mandolin, there are approaches to, as well as ideas about, building any musical instrument which alone are worth the cost of the book.

    1. John Bertotti's Avatar
      John Bertotti -
      Maybe add you website to your signature? I’m doing a search now for it thanks!
    1. John Bertotti's Avatar
      John Bertotti -
      Found it!
    1. Jim Imhoff's Avatar
      Jim Imhoff -
      Looking forward to your session at CMSA; I feel so knowledge-shy about the structure and history of an instrument I have come to love. I have all the tools and wood collections of an amateur cabinet-making woodworker, but am in awe of the luthier.
    1. John Bertotti's Avatar
      John Bertotti -
      Got my book today and it didn't take very long at all! Sadly my wife snagged it to wrap for Christmas!
    1. John Bertotti's Avatar
      John Bertotti -
      Well, Christmas has been here and gone, Merry Christmas and Happy New year everyone, and I finally got my tired out overworked hands on this book! If you are interested in these instruments it is a great addition to your library.