A. Lawrence Smart, Luthier
PO Box 1054  Hailey, ID 83333
208-315-3677
a.lawrencesmart@gmail.com
PO Box 1054  Hailey, ID 83333
208-315-3677
a.lawrencesmart@gmail.com
 

The Modern Mandolin

From a 1995 Guild of American Luthiers lecture.

Note: some of the ideas and data contained herein are out of date. Lawrence Smart's designs, skills and construction techniques have continued to evolve since this lecture was originally presented.

Today the mandolin can be heard in more kinds of music than ever before. It has become a mainstay everywhere from country music to the "unplugged" sound, from bluegrass to string jazz. Mandolin styles are evolving due to the virtuosity of so many great players. Luthiers in turn are responding to the needs of musicians both by simply building more mandolins and by departing from making direct copies of the great Gibson mandolin family instruments of the 1920s. Small (and sometimes not so small) variations in design can provide differences in tone and playability.

An ongoing source of inspiration for me has been the concept of matched sets of instruments, especially in the violin family. Historically, a "test" of a violin maker's ability has been to produce a quartet of instruments as one unit, where all four work together in artistic design as well as tone. Not that I necessarily equate myself with the technical knowledge and exacting craftsmanship of the world's great violin makers, but I have wanted for years to build such a quartet in the mandolin family. I was finally given the opportunity with the help of a generous grant from the Idaho Commission of the Arts.

Most of the design factors in mandolins, and archtop instruments in general, are interrelated. Some of them affect each other in very significant ways, and others are more independent. I want to emphasize that all these considerations needs to be balanced together with your own style of building, and this balance can only come with experience. It's important to experiment, to consider new ideas and not be afraid to try new things. It is probably most important, though, to have an idea of where you want to end up. Listen in your "mind's ear" to what you consider the ultimate mandolin sound. A clear idea of what inspires you musically is an important place to begin, whether you are building an instrument for Irish/Celtic music, bluegrass, Dawg music, jazz, or blues. Even small variations in design can provide the subtle tonal differences that musicians look for when defining their own playing styles.

One of the first things to consider in a new design is scale length, since it's going to have repercussions on the rest of your instrument, such as body shape and size, string tension, and playability, all of which are important. This is especially important on mandolin family instruments other than the mandolin, since the mandolin's scale length has come to be more standardized. Scale length in conjunction with where the fingerboard is joined to the body will determine where the bridge is positioned on the body. A longer scale length than standard may require a longer body as well, so the bridge can be positioned to drive the top in the most effective way. Different styles of playing may require different scale lengths to achieve a desired result. For instance, Celtic musicians often enjoy a slightly longer scale length, which lets them use lighter gauge strings, which in turn provides them with the desired "string noise" effect typical of that style. In the larger mandolin-family instruments a longer scale length may serve someone who mostly plays rhythm, while a shorter scale length may be desirable for a person who mostly plays melody, since he or she will be more physically able to use the fingerboard in the way needed.

Since scale length will play a role in so many aspects of the instrument, it needs to be carefully thought out in relation to the instrument that you hear in your head. Standard mandolin scale length has come to be set at 13 7/8". This is the scale I use most, but I have built a few instruments at 14 3/8". This longer scale works well and provides the benefits associated with a bit higher string tension when using standard gauge strings, such as feel, volume, added projection, and quickness of response. Both of the mandolins in my matched quartet have a 13 7/8" scale length, but since I wanted them to do different jobs in the ensemble I altered other design aspects to achieve this.

The scale length used on Gibson mandolas is 15 ¾". I've used mostly a 16" scale length for mandolas, although I've heard of people using 17" and even 19". A 19" scale length seems a bit long for a mandola, but I've had requests for instruments that can be tuned either as an octave mandolin or a mandola. A 19" scale length may be appropriate for this use.

Gibson mandocello scale length is 24 ¾". When I designed the mandocello in my quartet I settled on a scale length of 25". This gave me a body size (with the bridge sitting near the middle of the top) that seemed manageable and playable, but large enough to produce the desired low-end response. I know of a few mandocellos with a 27" scale which seem to work well, and since the cello will probably be mostly playing bass lines, 27" is likely not too cumbersome.

Relative newcomers to the mandolin family are instruments called octave mandolins, bouzoukis, and citterns. The use of these different names probably implies the different styles of playing and music for which they will be used. I believe that Flat Iron and Stephan Sobell instruments have scales around 24". I've used scale lengths of 19 ¾" and 20 ½", which are short enough so that with a little stretching they can be played with similar fingering as the mandolin and mandola. The tradeoff is that the shorter scale lengths require heavier strings which can be very cumbersome to play, while longer scale lengths with their lighter gauge strings require more of a stretch.

I believe that everyone who builds these instruments finds with experience which woods work best for them with their own building style. A well-known wood supplier has told me for years that he doesn't think Engelmann spruce is a good choice for mandolins, but I think it works well for me. For top wood I've also used Sitka spruce and Adironack red spruce with good, but different, results. There are generalizations that can be made about these different woods, but they are just that, generalizations. There is so much variation within the same species in terms of weight, stiffness, and so on that one needs to look at each chunk of wood as an individual. After all that, here is a generalization: Engelmann spruce is generally less dense that other commonly used spruces, so I generally treat it as such by leaving the top thicker than I might with Sitka or red spruce.

Smart Mandolin Family

Mandolins
scale length: 13 7/8"
width of nut: 1 5/32"
width at 12th: 1 15/32"
strings, outside to outside, at bridge: 1 19/32"
highest fret: 21
depth of neck at 1st fret: 13/16"
depth of neck at 8th fret: 15/16"
length of peghead: 7 1/2"
depth of sides only: 1 9/16"
width of lower bout: 10 1/32"
length of body: almost 14" with scroll
max height of arch, top: usually 3/8"+*
height of bridge: 13/16"
max height of arch, back: usually 1/2"+
soundhole dimensions: 4 9/16" long
hypothetical bridge point to tail: 6 3/8"

Mandolas
scale length: 15 15/16" A-style, 16 3/8" F-style
width of nut: 1 9/32"
width at 12th: 1 22/32"
strings, outside to outside, at bridge: 1 7/8"
highest fret: 21
depth of neck at 1st fret: 7/8"
depth of neck at 8th fret: 15/16"
length of peghead: 7 9/16"
depth of sides only: 1 25/32"
width of lower bout: 11 1/4" A-style; 11 3/8" F-style
length of body: 14 1/4" A-style; 15 3/8" F-style with scroll
max height of arch, top: 1/2"*
height of bridge: 15/16"*
max height of arch, back: 9/16"*
soundhole dimensions: 4 3/4" long
hypothetical bridge point to tail: 6 11/16" A-style; 7 3/8" F-style

Mandocello, F-style
scale length: 15 15/16" A-style, 16 3/8" F-style
width of nut: 1 9/32"
width at 12th: 1 22/32"
strings, outside to outside, at bridge: 1 7/8"
highest fret: 21
depth of neck at 1st fret: 7/8"
depth of neck at 8th fret: 15/16"
length of peghead: 7 9/16"
depth of sides only: 1 25/32"
width of lower bout: 11 1/4" A-style; 11 3/8" F-style
length of body: 14 1/4" A-style; 15 3/8" F-style with scroll
max height of arch, top: 1/2"*
height of bridge: 15/16"*
max height of arch, back: 9/16"*
soundhole dimensions: 4 3/4" long
hypothetical bridge point to tail: 6 11/16 A-style; 7 3/8" F-style

For brace wood, I use either red spruce or Sitka spruce. Both of these are generally stronger than Engelmann, with red spruce usually being my first choice, although it seems more difficult to find red spruce with the nice tight grain that I like to see in brace wood.

I've used koa and a few different species of maple for back and sides, again with good, yet different, results. I have a good supply of western big leaf maple, so that is what I usually use. European maple is something I've used and really liked, and I've recently been achieving excellent results with sugar or rock maple. I think koa also works well for mandolins but is different in tone than the maples; perhaps more sweet and bell-like, but lacking the power and push of most maples. I believe that the cut of the wood for the back of a mandolin can play a role in tone color as well. Slab cut wood, being generally less stiff than quartersawn, can help the sound be "softer and warmer" while quartered wood can help provide more of that mandolin "bite."

Again, I think it is important to find the wood that works the best for your own style of building and that matches with what you want your mandolin to sound like. As you tap and scratch on the wood when you select it, listen to tonal qualities in the wood and hear in your mind's ear the mandolin you want to make.

Since the soundboard of an archtop instrument is driven by downward pressure on the bridge, we need to consider just how the breakover angle is going to effect volume, response, and sustain. Simply put, the greater (more acute) the string angle over the bridge, the greater the downward force and the greater the volume and quicker the response of the top. Less (more obtuse) breakover angle creates more sustain since less of the string's energy is lost driving the top. A greater angle will produce a more percussive tone, while less angle will produce more overtones and "warm up" the tone a bit. A greater break angle will also create more string tension, which may or may not be desirable for a particular player.

The pitch of the neck and arch of the top are the determining factors in the break angle. Since a bridge wants to be within a certain height range, all three of these factors need to be considered together. If I want to build an instrument with the greatest sustain I can achieve, I might reduce the neck angle, which by itself would make the bridge too low. This can be adjusted by lengthening the heel of the neck, thus increasing the height of the fingerboard above the top, and giving more space between the top and the raised fingerboard.

The tail piece is another, more changeable way to affect string angle over the bridge. The stamped metal tail pieces common to Gibson and most other commercial mandolins don't really have the ability to adjust their angle. Cast or stiff fabricated tail pieces can be mounted up or down or the angle built into the tail piece itself can be changed to create more or less downward force on the bridge. An adjustable-height tail piece would be a very interesting addition to the mandolin. It would provide a nearly immediate comparison of greater or lesser string angle over the bridge. Since the mandolin has such high string tension, I think that a truly workable adjustable tail piece may be difficult to come up with, but I hope someone does it in the near future.

As with any stringed instrument, the greater the air volume of a mandolin, the lower the basic fundamental it will produce; the lower tones of the instrument will be augmented and response time will lengthen. Decrease the air volume and you enhance the treble and quicken the attack of the instrument. Since the mandolin is an upper-register instrument by nature, the treble is innately present and it may not be necessary to overemphasize these traits.

One obvious way to increase the air volume might be to simply design a larger outline. This would involve redesigning many aspects of the instrument including where the neck joins the body, scale length, and f-hole placement. An easier way that works within the evolved mandolin tradition is to change the depth of the sides. Gibson Loar mandolins have a side depth (not including top and back thicknesses) of 1½". I have generally gone to a side depth of 1 9/16" since I'm interested in enhancing the bass response of the instrument. This depth is not a rule, though. I will vary this according to what I want to build or what the customer wants.

Another obvious way to deal with air volume is with the arching. The higher the arch, the greater the internal volume of the instrument. As the arch of the top is raised, however, issues associated with string angle and bridge height come into play. Raising the arch of the top also has other tonal repercussions which will be discussed below. The arching of the back can more easily be raised to increase air volume without affecting the playability or other aspects of the instrument.

The most common way to make plates is to carve the outside first. With a carefully shaped and modeled outside, one has better control over arch height and shape, and final graduations. For people attempting their first mandolin, it probably would be best to pick up a good plan (Stewart-MacDonald's F-5, or GAL Plan #26, Lloyd Loar mandolin drawn by Ted Davis) and copy that arching until comfortable with making some alterations. It should be noted here that most plans I've seen seem to have a few glitches, so it's important to check things carefully before taking them as gospel.

Here is how I go about carving the outside of the top and back plates. There is no way that I could fit a pantographic router in my current shop, and I really don't want to do all the rough carving of plates by hand anymore. This system is a quick way to rough carve with a fairly high degree of accuracy and with a reduced amount of knuckle skinning. The joined top or back plate is laid out in a topographic map fashion representing the arch you want to accomplish. For a top my topo lines are typically marked at 5MM, 8MM, 11MM, 14MM, 15MM, and 16MM. To accomplish this I use a poster-board template with the topographic map of my top or back and holes punched every few inches along each topo line. This template is then laid over the wood and the pattern transferred to the wood by sharp pencil or pen through the punched holes. Then it's a matter of connecting the dots to complete the layout on the wood that is to be carved. The scroll is not marked at all other than the lines that blend into it, and is handcarved later. In the past I removed excess wood on my drill press using a 1" Forstner bit with the center spur ground flat. This drill process method is definitely faster than hand carving, but is slower than my new method.

John Anderson from Portland, Oregon, described to me his router jig for rough plate carving at the 1995 GAL convention. I liked it and later modified it for my own use. My jig is simply a shallow box constructed of ¾" MDF with side rails of a consistent height, and a hole in the center of the bottom surrounded by a mandolin-shaped gasket which secures the plate to the bottom of the box with vacuum pressure. A router is attached to a "sled" which is long enough to allow the router bit to cut around the perimeter of the plate without falling off the side rails of the shallow box. I built my router sled out of ¾" plexiglas, which works well as it is very stiff and allows me to see the work. The router bit itself is indexed off the bottom of the box to cut the appropriate height. The first cut is made so that the bit leaves 5MM of wood around the outside of the plate. This ends up being the deepest cut made and also the cut which removes the greatest area of wood. Care should be taken to make certain that the plate is securely held down in the box and that the router bit is both cutting in the appropriate direction and not allowed to dive too far into the side of the cut. After completing all cutting at a certain height, the bit is successively raised to make all the different cuts. I use a 1" diameter straight bit with a ½" shank which is beefy enough to reduce vibration, and is less likely to break while in use.

This whole process leaves me with a plate with topographic "steps" which need to be faired in to each other and smoothed to the finished outside arch. On the top these plates are easily worked with just a gouge, finger planes, and scrapers. Since the back is of a harder wood, I like a little help with removing the bulk of the steps, so I use an angle grinder fitted with a carbide cutter. It's a rather inconvenient approach, I know, but it has saved quite a lot of skin on my knuckles.

In a past issue of American Lutherie, Jimmy D'Aquisto talked about lowering the arch of the top, but retaining the internal volume by increasing the arch of the back. This is something that I generally do, with my tops usually ending up 15MM high from the underside of the plate to the highest point on the outside of the plate. My backs, measured in the same way, are generally 17-18MM high. The lower top arch has a warming effect on the tone, which is a tonal aspect that I want in my instruments. A higher top arch will give a quicker response and a more percussive tone, which is desirable for some people.

Graduating the plate thickness is probably something of a mystery for many people. An important first consideration is the wood you are planning to build the instrument of. Is it a dense or lightweight piece of spruce or maple? How stiff? I think it's obvious that stiffer, stronger wood should be thinned a bit more than something like Engelmann spruce, which is generally softer, lighter, and less stiff than either Sitka or red spruce. One of the reasons I like Engelmann spruce is that it generally requires a bit thicker graduation, which at first glance seems strange, but I feel that the more material I can leave on the top, the meatier the tone is going to be. I noticed on one of the D'Acquisto guitars on display at the '95 GAL convention that the wood was very thick around the edges and soundhole area. It must have been upwards of 0.180" thick, which seems kind of extreme. When I gently rubbed the inside of the soundhole, I could tell that the wood was so alive and lightweight that it needed to be that thick. It is important to play close attention to the wood's characteristics and then use intuition. According to some of my old notes, Engelmann tops on my mandolins have ranged from 0.0240"-0.180" in the center of the plate, to 0.135"-.090" at the edges. A few red spruce tops have been somewhat thinner, with Sitka instruments somewhere in the middle.

In general, the heavier the wood, the less resonant it will be and the fewer overtones it will produce, which is desirable for some styles of music. A thinner, lightweight top, on the other hand, is able to resonate more freely and will develop more complex overtones as a result. A top should not be made so thin that it won't support the great amount of string tension that a mandolin produces. The trick is to balance out the need for thick and thin wood to make an instrument that will speak with the voice we want to hear while still being strong enough to help support the bridge. The top plates of my mandolins are the thinnest about ¾" from the edge. They are generally about 40% thinner in this area than at the maximum thickness in the center of the top. I say generally because I work by intuition and feel-flexing the top, tapping, and scratching it. Scratching the wood with my fingernails allows me to hear the high end or treble response of a top or back, while tapping gives me an impression of the low end response of the wood. Based on this formula, if my top is .200" thick in the center, I can guess that it will end up being about .120" thick around the edge.

The ratio for my backs is a bit higher, 40%-50% thinner around the edges. My backs are thinner in general than the tops, largely because the wood is more dense and hard, and thinning is required to coax resonance out of them.

Like all other stringed instruments, the bracing in mandolin family instruments serves a couple of purposes. It provides structural integrity to counteract downward string pressure while providing a path for string driven vibrations to radiate to the outer edges of the top. Archtop instruments with f-holes have historically been braced with tone bars. Tone bars are associated with certain tonal characteristics: a quick response time, good volume, a very strong high end, good projection, and lack of overtones.

Builders of archtop guitars discovered some time ago that they could maintain many of the characteristics of tone bars while increasing the overtones of the instrument, thereby "warming up" the tone by using some sort of X brace. There are obviously different ways to configure the X brace and these definitely have different tonal effects. Where does the X actually cross? At what angle should the X radiate? On instruments built by Australian luthier Steve Gilchrist and later copied by Flatiron, the X crosses right under the bridge. I can't venture to explain in detail why this bracing system works so well on these instruments, but it seems to me that this setup will allow the bridge extra side-to-side movement, a "rocking" motion, while still providing the overall dome of the top the structural reinforcement needed. I don't know if these instruments use a different graduation in conjunction with this bracing. On most of the mandolins I build, the X crosses at a point just forward of the bridge with the braces themselves passing directly under the feet of the bridge. This system, I believe, provides the strength of the tone bars, with the bridge being directly supported, while also radiating vibrations quickly to the outer edges of the top. As a general rule, the more open the X in this style of bracing the warmer the resulting tone. This is a variable that I use to help tailor the tone of a mandolin for customer requests. I am limited in the angle at which the braces radiate by the f-hole position and my desire to run the bracing underneath the feet of the bridge.

In my mandolin quartet project, I wanted the instrument which was to play the first violin part to have a very strong and present high-end response with no sacrifice to the overtone-rich low end that I want all my mandolins to have. After a fair bit of head scratching I determined that I would use essentially a tone bar under the treble bridge foot while under the bass bridge foot I would use my standard X-brace configuration with as acute of an angle as I could get away with. This bracing system works well and accomplishes the job as intended. The high end is a very present, clear voice and the low end speaks with warmth and richness.

There are many other bracing options for mandolin family instruments. Gibson A and early F-style instruments with oval soundholes used one transverse brace under the bridge area. This bracing scheme has its own unique voice that is much sought after by some players, and I think is still valid today. There are, however, a lot of these instruments with sunken tops, so it seems that care should be taken when utilizing this system.

I think that there is general agreement that A-style and F-style mandolins have their own distinct tonal characteristics. The A-style is generally associated with warmth, sweetness, and a warm rich bass response. The F-style, on the other hand, is associated with a harder, more percussive tone, longer sustain, and a greater dynamic range. These tonal differences tell us that different body styles do play a role in tone production, leading us to the conclusion that the scroll on an F-style is more than just a $2000 strap hanger.

I think that the scroll on a mandolin acts as a lever, and its position adjacent to the neck serves to stiffen the plates in that area. This stiffening allows less string energy to be lost to the neck, thus resulting in greater sustain and a greater range to which the instrument can be pushed in terms of volume and tone production. I also view the ridge that extends in a curve from the center of the scroll and blends into the top as a sort of external brace which serves to further strengthen the top and back in this area. So as I carve the scroll area on my mandolins I try to keep in mind the structural role that the scroll plays; the little ridge might extend just a bit further than a Gibson's. This is important on the back of an instrument as well. The back is subjected to stress as the strung-to-pitch mandolin tries to pull itself apart at the same time it tries to fold the top in on itself.

Soundholes as a part of the body style play a major role in tone production. Oval holes product a rich, warm, complex low end, but high end and sustain seem to be a little bit compromised. I haven't used oval holes much, so I can't comment on how bracing or other factors may influence the lack of high-end presence. In fact, most of my listening to oval-holed instruments have been older Gibson models with a single transverse brace. Instruments built with f-holes tend to have greater projection, volume, and a very present high end.

Although it's been written about in this magazine before, it should be noted that soundhole placement is important in pushing toward different voices. Smaller and further apart f-holes will augment the bass response while the treble will be enhanced by enlarging the holes and moving them closer together. This is easily observable by placing a hand or piece of cardboard over an f-hole while tapping on the top. You should be able to hear the fundamental resonance lower as the hole is closed up. I believe that since the mandolin is a high-voiced instrument, a strong high end is one quality that players seek out in a mandolin. If a strong and present high end can be incorporated with a warm, rich low end, I think players will be happy to have the best of both worlds.

The setup of a mandolin is the last important step in taking advantage of all the design issues that we have utilized so far. It seems that each player has their own ideas regarding how they want their instrument to feel, and I believe that it is important to listen to players and try to deliver what they want.

Many aspects of setup are completely subjective, such as fretwire size, fingerboard arching, string action, string spacing, and string type. Other aspects of setup are more involved in tone production. Nuts and bridges made of harder materials such as mother-of-pearl, or perhaps carbon fiber, can help to quicken the response and articulate tone. Tail piece choices have increased of late to include heavier cast and fabricated brass and steel models such as the elegant Monteleone style from Saga or Randy Allen, and Gary Price's popular mandolin tail piece. These heavier tail pieces seem to increase sustain with a strong, more massive anchor point, but also can increase ambient string noise between the bridge and tail piece. This can easily be solved by dampening that section of string with leather or something soft placed between the strings. Many people believe that the Gibson-style stamped tail pieces are a good choice in that their lighter weight helps produce a warmer tone quality.

I've heard many great players argue that larger fret wire enhances sustain and makes faster playing possible. I've heard others talk about smaller fret wire providing more accurate intonation. I think all these beliefs have validity and the only real impression I have is that larger wire lasts longer between refrets, and mandolins seem to eat fret wire with wild abandon.

It seems that most players today want some degree of arching on the fingerboard. Arching on the fingerboard helps players use movable chord forms and lessens hand fatigue. I do think, however, that too radical of arching can inhibit right-hand technique. The taper of the fingerboard requires that radiused boards have a compound radius with less of a curve toward the bridge. In my setups I generally match the radius at the bridge to the radius at the 12th fret. This seems to be a happy compromise to accommodate both left- and right-hand technique. The extremes that I've seen for curved boards range from about a 4"-12" radius at the nut. What feels right to me is about 8"-9" at the nut fading to 11"-12" at the 12th fret.

Fingerboard width and string spacing are other aspects of setup where players have individual needs. A player with larger hands may prefer a wider fingerboard and a player with smaller hands may prefer a narrower one. This is not always the case, however, as individual technique really determines what is most appropriate. What is generally important, though, is that the individual strings of each pair be close enough together at the nut as to not be pushed out of tune when fretted, and close enough at the bridge as to allow rapid pick movement over the strings, but not not so close at either end as to buzz against one another. As for string spacing between the courses, I like to have equal space between each course at both the nut and bridge. Since the wound strings are thicker, this means that the strings are not laid out symmetrically with the centerline, but more in relation to the position of the outside strings.

A variety of strings is available for the mandolin, and the make and gauge becomes a matter of the player's choice. Those who choose to play the other members of the mando family aren't so lucky. To my knowledge, only D'Addario makes string sets for the mandola and mandocello, and they only come in one set of gauges each. Mandola strings run .015", .025"W, .035", and .052", high to low. Mandocello sets are very heavy, running .022"W, .034", .048", and .074". String sets must be made up for the octave mandolin, and depending on the scale length, you may or may not like my choices. Most recent orders have been for instruments that incorporate octave strings for the basses, and those sets look like this: .015"/.015", .024"W/.024"W, .016"/.033", and .030"/.053". Trial and error may be the best way to establish the exact string diameters for your needs. Some of the heavy, newer tail pieces will accept ball-end strings, which will really open the field for you. I've found that if wirecutters are applied to the ball perpendicular to the loop, the balls can be nibbled off the strings and the loops will seldom be damaged. If the cutters are held alongside the loop, the ball can be cut off in one shot, but the chance of nipping the loop is greater.

Action at the nut is like any stringed instrument. The instrument will feel best when the strings are low at the nut as they can be without buzzing. At the bridge, again each player has his or her own preferences. The tradeoff in this area is volume (helped by higher action) versus playing speed (aided by lower action).

The mandolin family instruments in general have fairly high string tension. so it is very important to pay close attention to bridge compensation. It is unlikely that a commercially-available bridge is going to intonate all the strings accurately without some modification. Also, as is the case with all archtop instruments, carefully fitted bridge feet play an important role in drawing the most potential tone out of a mandolin.

These thoughts, then, are my take on design factors for the evolving modern mandolin. I really want to emphasize that each person needs to work in their own style and if these thoughts can help, that's great. As a lover of the mandolin family sound, I have hope that musicians will continue to evolve the styles and use of the mandolin, and that luthiers will continue to respond to their evolving needs.