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.

1:Volume:

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 

 

All Luthiers Journey Articles by Richard Morgan

  • Richard Morgan Floating Soundboard

Thank god for luggage handlers

Watching the plane next to ours being loaded It became clear how and why musical instruments often turn up damaged. The acoustic bass guitar which I created in 2009 did not survive the flight [...]

  • Radiant Instrument Necks

Radiant Instrument Necks and Neck Joins

Christos: It's been a while since I published the last post by Richard, so I was very happy to receive this article, which provides insight in the importance of radiant instrument necks for the produced [...]

  • Luthier's Journey #10

Too Much Coffee

If I had to choose listening to an average instrument played by a master or vice versa I would choose the former. Of course a masterful musician may simply choose not to play a [...]

  • Mandolin Making Skills by Richard Morgan

A good haircut

I can remember as a child the pleasure of my monthly haircut. My mum would drop me off at the hairdresser and go shopping. I would often fall asleep as it was a very [...]

Hair Loss

The open C string on a cello would have to be my favorite sound. Its grinding organic growl makes what is left of my hair stand on end. If I were the owner of [...]

  • Old Violin

A Rough Diamond

Anyone who visits my home country, Australia, will be astonished by the huge distances between the towns and cities. Australia does have a relatively low population. For example, the island state where I live [...]

  • Richard Morgan

Synchronicity

Probably the most enjoyable part of my journey as a luthier has been of recent years. It all started with attempts at building timber resonator cones. I was looking for warmer tone. The "National" [...]

  • Mandolins from Richard Morgan

Windy Strings

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 [...]

Spruce

In team sports like soccer there are individuals who "make" the play and others who "read" the play. A good balance of each is needed. In my opinion the same sort of balance is [...]

  • Richard Morgan Mandola honey

Pure Honey

This is second article of the Luthiers Journey series, titled Pure Honey. In this article, Richard Morgan begins with the hazards and suggested basic precautions in the art of  luthiery, and then describes with a [...]

  • Richard Morgan mandola copy

The Patient Dies

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 [...]

Richard Morgan

My name is Richard and I am an Australian designer and maker of mandolins. I live with my partner in a small coastal town in Tasmania and work at home. The mandolin family of instruments produce beautiful [...]

 

Instruments by Richard Morgan

Instruments by Richard Morgan are featured at www.extraordinaryinstruments.com

Mandolinist Christos Rizos Extraordinary Instruments