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Thread: Ebay: unusual shape mandolin

  1. #1
    Registered User jim simpson's Avatar
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    Default Ebay: unusual shape mandolin

    Seller's descriptions are often funny. This instrument has what looks like a top (circle) inset sort of like Rigel tops.

    https://www.ebay.com/itm/40318671039...2f92%7Ciid%3A1
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  2. #2
    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Ebay: unusual shape mandolin

    I have actually "played" one of these, they are tourist wall hangers from Polynesia.
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    A bunch of stuff with four strings

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    Jo Dusepo, luthier Dusepo's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ebay: unusual shape mandolin

    I am a luthier specialising in historical and world stringed instruments. You can see more info at my website.

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    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ebay: unusual shape mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by Charles E. View Post
    I have actually "played" one of these, they are tourist wall hangers from Polynesia.
    Sorry you didn't get to try a good one.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dusepo View Post
    It's not a wall hanging per se as there are playable versions available - it is a particular type of 'ukulele that has a wooden soundboard and all the nylon strings of similar gauges and a tight re-entrant tuning.

    The playing style often includes particularly rapid strumming!

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    Professional Dreamer journeybear's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ebay: unusual shape mandolin

    It gets weirder:

    The Tahitian ukulele is significantly different from other ukuleles in that it does not have a hollow soundbox. The body (including the head and neck) is usually carved from a single piece of wood, with a wide conical hole bored through the middle. Alternatively Tahitian ukulele can be carved out of three pieces of wood with the sides being made from different woods, for decoration.

    The tapered hole bored through the body is about 4 cm in diameter on the back; at the front it is about 10 cm in diameter. The hole is topped with a thin piece of wood, on which the bridge sits, so the instrument works rather like a wood-topped banjo. Indeed, some of these instruments are referred to as Tahitian banjos.


    So, if I understand correctly, the large circle on the front is the result of having an access point for hollowing out the body, which then needs to be covered over. Or is it? Because that conflicts with the articles assertion that "it does not have a hollow soundbox" - which conflicts with my observation that, looking into the soundhole in the back view, the body does indeed appear to be hollow. Or is it just that area that is cut out, a conical section tapering from 10 cm in the front to 4 cm in the back? If that's the case, that would produce a rather small sounding chamber in an otherwise solid piece of wood, with not a whole lot of resonance.

    But I can't help thinking that, with its general rocket-like appearance, if it could be fitted with a real tailpiece, steel strings, and a magnetic pickup or two or three, this could make a heck of an electric mandolin. There's already room inside for the electronics.

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    But that's just my opinion. I could be wrong. - Dennis Miller

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  9. #6

    Default Re: Ebay: unusual shape mandolin

    If you accept the idea that it’s a sort of wood-topped banjo, there’s no need for a tuned ‘resonant’ cavity as an open banjo doesn’t have one. What I like is the expedient of using locally-available strings: one gauge of fish line! In a pinch, usable as a backup canoe paddle - one piece of wood, no pesky glue seams.

    The recent space flight of a uke has got me thinking about instruments for outdoor concerts on Mars at around 1% atmospheric pressure. Think I’d have to generate a particularly interesting grant proposal.

  10. #7
    '`'`'`'`'`'`'`'`'`'`' Jacob's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ebay: unusual shape mandolin

    Outdoor Ukulele
    Brilliant acoustics for extreme conditions (nfi)

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    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ebay: unusual shape mandolin

    There have been "resonator" guitars built with a thin piece of wood as the vibrating diaphragm, rather than the aluminum disks used in both National and Dobro instruments. You may wonder, "Why not just have the wooden top vibrate, instead of using another piece of wood?" And I might answer, "I dunno."

    Seems that these Tahitian ukes have a hollowed-out cavity in the solid wooden body, with a thin piece of wood as a vibrating diaphragm. You may wonder, "Why not just have the wooden top vibrate (as in a Hawaiian ukulele) instead of using another piece of wood?"

    And I might answer, "I still dunno -- tradition?"
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  12. #9
    Professional Dreamer journeybear's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ebay: unusual shape mandolin

    I'm thinking it's "manufacture" - which may be governed by tradition. I don't know if the cavity is formed by boring with a single bit with an enormous diameter or a more normal size bit, but it does seem the plan is to create a sound chamber with a sound hole on the back, and then cover the hole in the front with a piece of wood. This may not have originally been intended to vibrate, but if it did, so much the better.
    But that's just my opinion. I could be wrong. - Dennis Miller

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  13. #10
    Jo Dusepo, luthier Dusepo's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ebay: unusual shape mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by allenhopkins View Post
    There have been "resonator" guitars built with a thin piece of wood as the vibrating diaphragm, rather than the aluminum disks used in both National and Dobro instruments. You may wonder, "Why not just have the wooden top vibrate, instead of using another piece of wood?" And I might answer, "I dunno."

    Seems that these Tahitian ukes have a hollowed-out cavity in the solid wooden body, with a thin piece of wood as a vibrating diaphragm. You may wonder, "Why not just have the wooden top vibrate (as in a Hawaiian ukulele) instead of using another piece of wood?"

    And I might answer, "I still dunno -- tradition?"
    I'd say... To achieve a different sound, in this case fitting within a certain musical tradition.

    They are also maybe slightly easier to build (I've never built one, but appears to be), especially since these were traditionally built from whatever bits of driftwood they could get hold of. The main body is all solid wood, like an electric guitar, so less of the techniques required usually on acoustic instruments.
    I am a luthier specialising in historical and world stringed instruments. You can see more info at my website.

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  15. #11

    Default Re: Ebay: unusual shape mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by journeybear View Post
    I'm thinking it's "manufacture" - which may be governed by tradition. I don't know if the cavity is formed by boring with a single bit with an enormous diameter or a more normal size bit, but it does seem the plan is to create a sound chamber with a sound hole on the back, and then cover the hole in the front with a piece of wood. This may not have originally been intended to vibrate, but if it did, so much the better.
    I tried to look up construction methods, but it appears that even in Tahiti, people have been seduced by power tools, so my take on traditional, if you like (and I generally like playing with antique tools), is that at minimum, the few tools used to make canoes back when are just about sufficient.
    Sticking with the single plank - that is, absolutely no glue seams, the outer shape dictated by found wood or sawn and hatcheted to suit. The fret area has to be fairly flat, so a hand adze plus some sort of hand plane. The conical hole is an easy chisel job. The top plate is split from whatever is splittable, and gnawed to shape. As the strings are ‘modern’ fish line and may ancestrally be fiber, and low tension, I think plain pegs adequate. Frets can be tied on as they still are in many parts of the world.
    I imagine that if you’re making a good one, it would pay to split and rough out the plank and let it season for quite a while before finishing up. These instruments supposedly descended from when the Portuguese invaded, so iron tools, available fishline and some metal hardware would be authentic.

  16. #12
    Professional Dreamer journeybear's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ebay: unusual shape mandolin

    Right. I'm thinking "traditional" more in the sense of "customary" than "old-time." So that could well include machine tools, not be limited to hand tools.

    Speaking of Portuguese, my library had a Hawaiian-English dictionary, which had an entry for "mandolin" as "kiku pakiki," literally, "Portuguese guitar." I'm not sure I completely buy that, as I havent seen it corroborated, but it stuck in my mind. And yes, it had "ukulele" deriving from "jumping flea."
    But that's just my opinion. I could be wrong. - Dennis Miller

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