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Thread: First build with James Condino

  1. #1
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    Default First build with James Condino

    Iíve been working on building an A5 with the help of local luthier James Condino for a few weeks now. James has provided a ton of knowledge in just a few short sessions and I feel confident that Iíll finish this first build with more experience than I would if I attempted to build five on my own. Sides are complete- we are starting on the top this week. Will update here as we go!

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    Post Re: First build with James Condino

    Photo of Sides glued up!
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    Default Re: First build with James Condino

    First build is always exciting. I’m sure it will turn out well with such a great mentor.
    Dave Schneider

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    Kelley Mandolins Skip Kelley's Avatar
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    Default Re: First build with James Condino

    Quote Originally Posted by Lvanhine View Post
    I’ve been working on building an A5 with the help of local luthier James Condino for a few weeks now. James has provided a ton of knowledge in just a few short sessions and I feel confident that I’ll finish this first build with more experience than I would if I attempted to build five on my own. Sides are complete- we are starting on the top this week. Will update here as we go!
    James is a wealth of information. Soak up all you can. Please keep posting your progress. Great job!

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    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: First build with James Condino

    Great for you! Are you going to do Jame's removable back process to fine tune the mandolin?
    Charley

    A bunch of stuff with four strings

  8. #6
    I really look like that soliver's Avatar
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    Default Re: First build with James Condino

    It's so great to have someone local to lean on! Marty Jacobson is really close to me and he was a great resource for me during my first couple of builds. I've also shared a lot of email exchanges with John Hamlett seeking info. If James were closer to me, I'd definitely be seeking his input! Good luck completing that first build!
    aka: Spencer
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    Default Re: First build with James Condino

    Quote Originally Posted by Charles E. View Post
    Great for you! Are you going to do Jame's removable back process to fine tune the mandolin?
    Definitely! We picked out top wood today, I brought it home to partially torrefy it. Going to try and do the majority of the rough carving on my own and will bring it back for some advice on the last bit of carving / putting it on the voicing jig to string it up.

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    Default Re: First build with James Condino

    Brought the sides home from James yesterday. Working on thinning out/ removing some mass from the solid linings.
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    Default Re: First build with James Condino

    You certainly picked the right guy to learn from!!

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  14. #10
    Registered User j. condino's Avatar
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    Default Re: First build with James Condino

    Luke has been great to work with: smart, funny, patient, and he appears to listen to what I'm saying (not always the case with some of my other students!).

    In addition to all of the other things happenin' around the shop, we have two new builds going concurrently. He's working on a nice A5 and I'm working on the all local woods F5 for the Carolina Quartet. I should start a separate thread about the quartet build and philosophy. Those are torrefied mulberry blocks on the F5. It is a new material to me that shows tremendous potential- very strong, but also very lightweight and stable that came from an upcycled urban tree.
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    Last edited by j. condino; Sep-13-2023 at 7:45pm.
    www.condino.com

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    Default Re: First build with James Condino

    Quote Originally Posted by j. condino View Post
    and he appears to listen to what I'm saying (not always the case!.
    Is that- people donít always listen to what youíre saying, or I appear to be listening to you (but not ALWAYS)? I think Iíd run out of brain space if I ALWAYS listened to what youíre saying!

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    Default Re: First build with James Condino

    Best of luck with the build. You have a great mentor.
    Bob Schmidt

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    Default Re: First build with James Condino

    Top torrefied and glued up- plus I spent some time this weekend building a mold and carving cradle of my own. James was kind enough to let me use his mold when we glued up the sides for my first build- but Iím eager to continue building on my own so I borrowed a master template from James and got to mold making this weekend.
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    Default Re: First build with James Condino

    Itís been a while since I updated this thread but the project is coming along well. This weekend I was able to take my top that is still slightly over final thickness, with tone bars that are still way over thickness and glue it on Jamesí test rig. Tuners from Alessi arrived, James tailpiece and a bridge from Cumberland acoustics. Now the fun part! Over the next few weeks Iíll be able to cut the sound holes while itís strung up, pop the back off and graduate the tone bars, and slowly thin out the top closer to final thickness and hear it every step of the way. Planning on messing with a few different bracing options while I have it on the test rig.Click image for larger version. 

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    Default Re: First build with James Condino

    Carved by hand and within 15 hours you can string it up and hear your new top + voice it live.

    Show me anywhere else in the world that you get to do that as a new builder!
    www.condino.com

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  22. #16

    Default Re: First build with James Condino

    I am in the middle of my second build using a fixture modeled after James' design. It has been a godsend. Thank you James for sharing that with us.

  23. #17

    Default Re: First build with James Condino

    I'm happy to have started working with James, also! I've built 8 violins and repaired hundreds, but I'm a mandolin player and always had an aim on building mandos. I did the lion's share of my foundational learning out of The Art of Violin Making (Johnson and Courtnall) book during 2019 and 2020. I wanted to start learning how to build mandos in-person. James and I got together to just hang out, pick, and talk about goals. Last week, I spent 6 hours with him, learned a ton, and came out with sides bent and top joined and ready to glue. It's been great for me to be able to focus on building new skills and taking care of what I already know how to do on my own time.

  24. #18

    Default Re: First build with James Condino

    I'm happy to have started working with James, also! I've built 8 violins and repaired well over 100, but I'm a mandolin player and always had an aim of building mandolins. I did the lion's share of my foundational learning out of The Art of Violin Making (Johnson and Courtnall) book during 2019 and 2020. I wanted to start learning how to build mandolins in-person. James and I initially got together to just hang out, pick, and talk about goals. Last week, I spent 6 hours with him, learned a ton, and came out with sides bent and top joined and ready to glue. It's been great for me to be able to focus on acquiring new skills and taking care of what I already know how to do on my own time.

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  25. #19
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    Default Re: First build with James Condino

    Quote Originally Posted by Lvanhine View Post
    It’s been a while since I updated this thread but the project is coming along well. This weekend I was able to take my top that is still slightly over final thickness, with tone bars that are still way over thickness and glue it on James’ test rig. Tuners from Alessi arrived, James tailpiece and a bridge from Cumberland acoustics. Now the fun part! Over the next few weeks I’ll be able to cut the sound holes while it’s strung up, pop the back off and graduate the tone bars, and slowly thin out the top closer to final thickness and hear it every step of the way. Planning on messing with a few different bracing options while I have it on the test rig.Click image for larger version. 

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    Thank you for sharing your build experience with us. Getting to learn from James and using his tuning technique sounds like a great way to jump way up the learning curve on your first build!
    It's a little off topic, but curious how the process went for ordering tuners from Alessi. My initial plan was to order tuners from him for my build, but communication fizzled after his first reply and I couldn't make further contact. I've heard only good things about his tuners, so I really want to learn the secret to placing an order for next time!
    Greg

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    Default Re: First build with James Condino

    James is an absolute wealth of knowledge. Just one example.......I have struggled with tonebars for some time. Some great advice I got from him was to build a bunch of them, play with them and see what they sound like, rack and stack them and pick the right ones. I built roughly 30 of them, dropped them, played with them, rubbed them...before I ever looked at the grain. Building instruments from scratch on your own has a lot of pitfalls....Having a mentor that helps you avoid those pitfalls is gold!

    Cam

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