The Mandolin Quartet
A century or more ago the mandolin was a major focus of social as well as professional music making. Throughout Europe and America there were mandolin orchestras of all sizes and abilities using mandolins, mandolas, mandocellos and guitars playing a mix of light classical music and arrangements of popular songs and dance music of the day. Most of these orchestras disappeared when the mandolin craze faded in the 1920s, but many of the instruments have survived and people are still making music with them.
A long-held desire has been to build a quartet of two mandolins, a mandola and a mandocello from matched timbers and a circumstances have fortuitously led to the acquisition of enough wood to make two quartets. One will be of Sitka spruce and Big Leaf maple and the other of Tasmanian King Billy pine and Australian blackwood.
The design for the King Billy/blackwood quartet have been inspired by the Lyon and Healy Style A mandolin quartet instruments from the late 19-teens.
Update April 2022 - Construction has begun on the quartet. Some pictures below of progress.
A prototype of the Lyon & Healy inspired mandolin, this one from spruce and Tulip satinwood.
A prototype mandola with a 16.5”/42cm scale and from European spruce and Australian blackwood. The mandocello will be of a similar design with a 25.5”/64.8cm scale
The four head overlays of flamed blackwood and gidgee with Ivoroid binding.
The four side assemblies with the soundboards and backs cut out.