The Mandolin - a history

An illustrated history of the Mandolin around the world 

Update November 2021: The publisher who offered to re-print The Mandolin has gone out of business, without printing any copies of the book. We are looking for possible ways to get the book back in print.

The ebook version can still be purchased from this page.

ISBN 9780980476279 

The Mandolin is a 424 page softcover publication in an 8"x10" size with 460 colour pictures of mandolins, old advertisements and other illustrations. There are over 100,000 words of text, including an index and a comprehensive bibliography.The Mandolin traces the history of mandolin family instruments from the proto-lutes of ancient Mesopotamia through the renaissance and the baroque as the mandolin took on its own forms and distinguished itself from the lute and the guitar. The book covers the evolution of the mandolin in both Europe and the Americas in the late 19th and early 20th centuries as well as the almost limitless variety of mandolin forms that have developed over the last century.

The Mandolin is lavishly illustrated with the intent that it will be a primary reference for identifying mandolin family instruments from all parts of the world. There are over 450 illustrations, almost all in colour. There are comprehensive sections covering European and American mandolins, chapters on the influence of Spanish and Portuguese instruments, and the definitive story of the modern bouzouki in Irish music.

A comment from George Gruhn of Gruhn Guitars in Nashville TN:
"While I am very familiar with major American makers such as Lyon & Healy, Martin, Gibson, the Larson brothers, Epiphone, and D'Angelico, as well as a number of modern builders of bluegrass style mandolins, I found an enormous amount of information in your book regarding historical instruments, the evolution of mandolins and related instruments, and even modern builders which is entirely new to me. I find this to be absolutely fascinating information. After over 50 years of collecting and dealing instruments and establishing a reputation as a knowledgeable dealer, I find it very refreshing to encounter a book which opens new vistas for me."

The picture on the cover is a French postcard from the early years of last century, one of series themed around Mignon, a 19th century French opera. For whatever reason Mignon, a young gypsy girl, was often posed in numerous postcard series holding a mandolin. There is a marvellous intensity about this beautiful young model, whoever she was. and is the cover image of the book. We have decided her name is Helene, and although left-handed and entirely self taught, we are certain that she was a formidable musician with a unique playing style.

Ebook versions in .epub as well as .mobi, .azw and .azk (for Kindles) are now available as downloads for US$15 through PayPal. It is a big download, so fast broadband connections are recommended. After the PayPal payment is finalised, you will be redirected to another page from which the ebook flavour of your choice can be selected and downloaded.

The Table of Contents can be downloaded by clicking here. A chapter on early Neapolitan mandolins can be downloaded here, and an introductory chapter on the Mandolin in America can be downloaded here.

A facebook page now has a number of pictures of mandolins, some of which will be in the book, but others which just won't fit.

Graham McDonald Stringed Instruments

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