Back to the weird: Folks who read this blog regularly might remember Instrument # 90, which is a four string guitar made out of the "wrest plank" or pin block of the piano. This is a piece of hard maple that is laminated into a beam that runs the width of the piano. The tuning pins protrude through the cast-iron harp and into the maple, which holds them via friction in the position that the piano tuner places them.
|The "wrest plank" or pin block planed down and ready to be made into parts.|
|The truss rod cover is ivory veneer.|
This hard maple is usually a pretty nice chunk of lumber that would be great for just about anything except that it has tons of holes in it, rendering it almost useless. So of course I want to continue to find uses for it.
I have been wanting to make an octave mandolin, not because I know how to play one but because I have been interested in what playing a set of courses (pairs of strings) would be like as opposed to single strings, and mandolins are strung that way. One thing I noticed with instrument 90 was that because there is no sound hole, the sound only came out the sides. For a listener the sound image is a little funky. So with this iteration I did my best to limit the number of holes on the sides and back, and put them all on the front. I book-matched the front so that the holes mirror each other, and the bridge is an ebony black key from a piano.
This thing has a lot of moments that I really dig: There is a resin-filled screw hole (You know how I like those!), there is a gorgeous tail piece that Jaydann Moore made, there is walnut kerfing. The truss rod cover is a piece of ivory veneer from a white piano key. All of this almost balances out the fact that I don't know how to play the octave mandolin.
|Resin-filled screw hole on the neck.|
|Tail Piece by Jaydann Moore|
I gave it to my friend Tom and he made it sound pretty good, though. Because it is all solid hard maple, it has an incredible amount of sustain.
Here is a video of me ham-handedly trying to chord something on this. It is interesting enough to play that I am hopeful that I can learn to play it a little better.