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Thread: Bevel on a mandolin

  1. #1

    Default Bevel on a mandolin

    Why has it not been done? As a long time guitarist and a short time mandolinist, I can say it makes a guitar a bit more comfortable and my mandolin would benefit from having one. I’d love to see and hear one with a fluted bevel a la Ryan guitar and perhaps even a Manzer wedge.

  2. #2
    Teacher, luthier
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    Default Re: Bevel on a mandolin

    I suspect that it already has been done.
    You could probably find a willing builder. The additional cost might be considerable-- I suspect the extra labor involved would be significant.
    My question would be: with a side depth of under 2 inches to work with, what would it end up looking like?

    Eastman offers a "contoured comfort edge" on their model 505 CC. What it exactly looks or feels like, I do not know. I have yet to see one.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Bevel on a mandolin

    Here’s a bevel on one of my guitars. I think it could be proportionately sized to fit a mandolin.


  4. #4
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    Default Re: Bevel on a mandolin

    I've done bevels on guitars - here's a recent pic from my workbench (since we're doing a show & tell )

    For an arch top mando there's a couple problems that I can think of.
    - The soundboard is very small to begin with - you're looking to make it even smaller with the bevel. Even on a concert guitar, the soundboard reduction is significant, albeit, can be adjusted for.
    - The arch will have to be altered, which might affect the sonic qualities (never know, could be a good thing). The bridge will no longer be in the middle of the arch across the grain.

    Most likely, these issues can be overcome by an experienced mando builder.

    I guess, the mando bevel can be made small, but would you notice the difference vs no bevel, and would it look good?

    Click image for larger version. 

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  5. #5
    Bob Ayers Ranger Bob's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bevel on a mandolin

    Not really a bevel but Rigels are well known for their comfortable sides.

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  7. #6

    Default Re: Bevel on a mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by GChris View Post
    Why has it not been done? As a long time guitarist and a short time mandolinist, I can say it makes a guitar a bit more comfortable and my mandolin would benefit from having one. I’d love to see and hear one with a fluted bevel a la Ryan guitar and perhaps even a Manzer wedge.
    I think it's highly unlikely to happen, at least with an archtop mandolin. For one, the mechanics of mandolin are quite different. The top is thicker in the middle and thinnest around the perimeter, creating a diaphragm that pumps in and out for a strong percussive output. The large blocking behind an arm bevel would seriously alter that engineering.

    Second, the logistics of playing mandolin are quite a bit different. It's a small instrument, giving the player more free play on how to hold it. An arm bevel is going to encourage the elbow in towards ribs with the forearm angled out, which is not the most conducive to playing the fast, articulate music that the instrument lends itself to. It also makes it harder to pick in that sweet spot over the 22nd fret that produces the nicest tone. An alternative you may want to consider is a clamp-on arm rest. It raises the elbow up away from the instrument, keeps your forearm off the rim and tailpiece, and helps the picking hand in on the sweetspot (at least for me and others). Playing on a strap really helps position the instrument for me. I love playing guitar freehand in my lap but that doesn't work so well for mandolin.

    The dimensions and design of archtop mandolins have changed very little since the days of Lloyd Loar. While that may be partly due to tradition, it's also because the design works so well, and, while others have tried significant departures design-wise, none have really improved the sound (which is what it's all about).

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  9. #7
    Mandolin user MontanaMatt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bevel on a mandolin

    This is the solution
    Weber tailpiece
    Click image for larger version. 

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    2007 Weber Custom Elite "old wood"
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    Several nice old Fiddles
    2007 Martin 000-15S 12 fret Auditorium-slot head
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    BridgerCreekBoys.com

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  11. #8
    Mandolin Player trodgers's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bevel on a mandolin

    I have a couple of mandolins that are not bound and are very comfortable in this regard.

    I lifted a photo of a Weber Gallatin from Cafe sponsor The Mandolin Store that shows the smooooooth rounded transition from side to back. The top edge is just as nice.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    In the heat of playing, I sometimes get tensed up and the contact between my forearm and the edge of the mandolin is one of the places where it shows. That tell-tale little red line on my forearm is a warning that I need to loosen up. If my arm is 'gripping' the mando that tight, you can pretty well bet that any finesse further on down the arm, where all the pick action is happening, is suffering.
    “Like winds and sunsets, wild things were taken for granted until progress began to do away with them. Now we face the question whether a still higher ‘standard of living’ is worth its cost in things natural, wild and free.” -- Aldo Leopold

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