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Monthly Update 
October 2008
In This Issue
Product Highlights
Luthier's Tip
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Roger
Dear Luthiers,
 

Mandola kits are here!

Well, we've promised you a Fall 2008 release of our H5 Mandola kits, and we are right on target.


Preparing the tooling for these kits has been both a challenging and a rewarding experience. We've built a second-generation carver to run alongside our mandolin plate carver. The new carver - a Siminoff design - applies the same carving technology we use for our mandolin plates, and it gives us some added benefits for fine-tuning and plate loading.

The kits include all the attention to details you have come to expect in our F5, F4, and A5 mandolin kits. We apply the same focus in selecting materials at the beginning, the same attention to details in producing the parts, and the care in checking and packaging the components at the end.

For the moment, we are only carving H5 soundboards from Sitka Spruce and Adirondack Red Spruce (option). We will refrain from offering California Redwood or Western Red Cedar as options until we do further testing to ensure that a mandola's wider soundboard made of redwood or cedar can withstand the load of the heavier gauge strings.

We've worked hard to keep the prices in line, but the rough-out sizes of materials for the H5 mandola soundboard, backboard, and neck blank push us into the next commercially available dimensions of wood, which increases costs. However, we'll try to hold these introductory prices as long as possible.

If you have any questions about our new H5 kits, I welcome a call or email from you.

Thanks for building with us...
 
Roger Siminoff
 
Sometimes it's out of your hands.
 
A good friend, luthier, and customer of ours in the Northwest recently shared a sad story about a fire that swept through his neighborhood and then destroyed his house, shop, and instruments.
Fire
We were all deeply saddened by the story and the reality struck home when we saw the photos. Fortunately, John and his family are fine - disheartened, but fine. I can only imagine a few things more horrifying than seeing your house, possessions, heirlooms, photographs, and more disappear before your eyes - especially when there's nothing you can do about it. It's just plain terrible.

It made me think twice about controlling the things we can control, and I took an extra look through our shop to ensure that our smoke detectors were operative (we have several positioned near our dust collection system, in our sound-proofed carving chambers, in our spray booth, and so on). I double-checked our grounding system for dust collection (if you don't have one, you should get one), checked that all fire extinguishers were as they should be and were up to date, made sure that everyone here is wearing dust masks when they should be and using ear protection, and that we are all generally being a bit more careful than we have been in the past.

While a fire roaring into our neighborhood is something we have little control over, safety in the shop is absolutely in our hands. I urge you to take a minute and review the safety status and procedures of your shop.

It would be comforting to know that all of our friends - and their instruments - are out of harm's way. We want you to be safe.

Product Highlights - Mandola Kits

Here is the line up of our three H5 mandola kits. All kits have the same quality of material, and we offer them in three different levels of preparation. Our kits are prepared on a made-to-order basis to enable a wide range of options, and, therefore, are not "ready to go" in a box. At the moment, we are saying "three weeks" for production time, but this may change slightly depending on the initial workload.
720 Mandola Kit
Kit #720 (Level 1)

Kit #720 (Level 1) - H5 mandola parts kit (level 1). Includes: #1312 curly maple neck, #A-H truss rod installed, #N peghead scroll strengthener installed, #G-3 peghead shaping, #315 peghead veneer, #M peghead veneer attached, #339 ebony fretboard (shaped and slotted), #1300 curly maple rib set, #310-B mahogany block set (four pieces), #319-A kerfed lining (three pieces), #339 maple fretboard extender, #1311 Sitka spruce soundboard (carved), #1312 curly maple 2-piece backboard (carved), #R-3 f-holes routed, #360 AcoustiGauze attached, tone bars, #308-MN ebony bridge, #210 truss rod cover (w/screws), #405 w/b/w celluloid binding (2 pcs), #406 w/b/w celluloid binding, #409 w/b/w fretboard binding, #408 crosspiece, #506 The Ultimate Bluegrass Mandolin Construction Manual, #DH5 ProSeries H5 drawings (set). H5 kit #720 is $699.00 (an $809.40 value if parts are purchased separately). Assembly requirements: average-skill hand work. (Our kits do not include machines, tailpiece, fretwire, or fingerrest. These items are available separately or together in one of our Completion Sets.) P&H for an H5 mandola kit in the U.S. is $33.50.
 
Kit #721 (Level 2) - This kit features the same quality of parts as the #720 kit, but requires a bit more work on your part. It includes AcoustiGauze but it is not attached and the f-holes are not routed. The truss rod is installed and the scroll strengthener plug hole is drilled, but the plug is not glued in place. The peghead veneer is included but it is not attached, and the peghead is not cut to shape. The celluloid binding is ripple-grain ivoroid rather than w/b/w. H5 kit #721 is $659.00 (a $727.20 value if parts are purchased separately). Assembly requirements: more hand work than a #720 kit and some band saw work. (Our kits do not include machines, tailpiece, fretwire, or fingerrest. These items are available separately or together in one of our Completion Sets). P&H for an H5 mandola kit in the U.S. is $33.50.

 Kit #722 (Level 3) - This kit features the same quality of parts as the #721 kit, but requires a bit more hand work. The #722 kit does not include the bridge. The truss rod slot is not cut, but the truss rod and filler strip are provided. H5 kit #722 is $629.00 (a $669.20 value if parts are purchasd separately). Assembly requirements: aggressive hand work and some machine tool work. (Our kits do not include bridge, machines, tailpiece, fretwire, or fingerrest. These items are available separately or together in one of our Completion Sets.) P&H for an H5 mandola kit in the U.S. is $33.50.

NOTE: Please consult the Shipping & Returns page on our website for a P&H table.
Luthier's Tip: Getting things tight. 
 
There are several conventional ways of holding parts together during gluing - from tape, to simple clamps, to complicated fixtures. I keep a supply of rubber bands and a few 6' lengths of shock cord handy at my workbench for those times I need more holding power - especially in weird corners or at unusual angles.
Fretboard
As shown in the accompanying photo, rubber bands are especially helpful for securing the binding in place during the gluing process. And, their use becomes especially handy in the curvy corners of an F5 fretboard where the binding needs to be pulled into the lower corner.

Lengths of shock cord (cloth covered elastic rope) are handy for getting stubborn binding to pull in place around the instrument's body. (I usually use cloth upholstery tape, but if I discover a loose spot or a place where the binding needs an extra nudge, I'll go over it with a wrap or two of the shock cord.)

Rubber bands come in several sizes, and I keep them hanging on a peg board hook ready to be grabbed in a second's notice.

Product of the Month: Physics of Music Notebook

Physics of MusicDuring the last 13 years of Lloyd Loar's life, he taught a class entitled Physics of Music at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. Loar's wife Bertha had a student's notebook from his last class, and we were fortunate to be able to reproduce it. The notebook includes many interesting basics of musical acoustics. The student's own illustrations were scanned and reproduced so they represent what Professor Loar likely drew on the chalkboard. This is about as close as you can get to taking a class on acoustics from Lloyd Loar. The book is part #508 and is regularly $24.95. For the month of October 2008, you can save $5.00. Limit one (1) book offer per customer. Enter tosmusic when prompted during online checkout.

Save $5.00
 
Physics of Music Notebook Special
 
October's Product of the Month: Save $5.00 on your purchase of the Physics of Music Notebook. This discount may not be used with any other offer or discount. Limit one (1) per customer. Enter tosmusic when prompted during online check out.
Offer Valid: September 27, 2008 through October 31, 2008