As a maker I have found discussions with other makers extremely useful. The exchange of ideas, philosophies and techniques is a big part of keeping the learning curve steep. Also feedback from players is vital. With this in mind I have a question to anyone who reads this “blog”and happens to play in a mandolin orchestra.

To explain: I have listened to a number of mandolin orchestras on line and when listening to the orchestra that Chris is in I was struck with the beautiful “crystalline” tone the mandolin section has especially when they played in the tremolo style.

The question is this: How much is the sound influenced by the fact that all the mandolins in Chris’s orchestra are the classic bowl back variety? Does this help give the mandolin section one voice? I have heard that in orchestras it is common to have the violins from the same maker.

My guess is the answer to this question will come from individuals who have experienced both mixed mandolins and exclusively classic mandolins. Any comments will be gratefully accepted. They will help me craft my instruments towards a suitable tone that will fit in orchestras. When I listen to a classic mandolin I hear an instrument with strong ” attack”,great power in the top end and reasonably short sustain. Also few sympathetic harmonics and of-course the crystalline tone……. For me “crystalline tone” is one that is clear or uncomplicated with few overtones. This sound makes it easier to hear the actual notes and their harmonics. Conversely an instrument with lots of overtones may have a pleasing overall sound however the overtones will reduce its power and clarity. The dreadnaught guitar is an example of this. I have found instruments with clear tone sound terrible if they are even a tiny bit out of tune but very rewarding when spot on.

Breaking down the sound.

To understand the sound a plucked string instrument makes I have broken it down into a few categories. There are probably others that I have, as yet,not considered. Anyway this is my way of understanding the sound and I hope it is of some help.


It has 2 parts…..attack and sustain. These 2 parts do not need any explanation.I have concluded that the greater the attack the less the sustain and visa verse.


About the Luthiers Journey article series

Richard Morgan is a maker (luthier) from Australia and a member of theMandolinTuner community. From the moment that Richard joined theMandolinTuner we started exchanging e-mails and I was very happy to read about his work, especially as Richard mandolins (and mandolas, mandocellos, etc.) are truly innovative, featuring a unique sound-board design and lots of other innovations as well.

Soon, I start thinking of Richard as a friend of mine and I shared with him my vision of creating a section for luthiers within theMandolinTuner, something I believe would be very interesting for theMandolinTuner community. I am happy to say that Richard liked my idea and what you read now is a series of articles we have planned as the first step towards realizing this vision. I named  this article series “A Luthiers Journey”.

So, enjoy Richard describing his journey as an instrument maker.

– Chris Rizos 


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