A new mandolin (part 1)

March 5, 2018 | in: DIY, Instruments

My father retired a couple of years ago, and he always wanted to create wooden instruments (that in general are used in Irish music).
I was amazed by the work he was doing. All handmade with hardly any machines. Obviously, this takes a lot of time.

Some time ago, I asked him if he could build me a mandolin, and he agreed to make me one.

First steps

So the first question he asked: What kind of mandolin would you like?

I was kinda confused. As, with many instruments, there are tons of variations. I chose a Fado-like tear-shaped model, with a flat back, 2 times 4 strings. I will forfeit the fado tuner style, because they are hard to use and perhaps easier to just choose a simple mechanism. So a Fado-shaped, 8 string, 7cm depth mandolin it became. The finish will be oil instead of lacquering. I want the mandolin to sound a little darker.

The design sketch will follow.

Choosing the tone wood

In Utrecht, Netherlands, near the station, is a windmill that has some woodworking shop there, called “Spruce Guitars“. The luthier repairs in general old high-end guitars. He also sells tone wood to small clients like me.

When we visited, we saw a lot of beautiful tone woods. Spruce, Koa, old rosewood, cherry etc. I chose Rosewood for sides and backs, sitka spruce for the top, mahogany for neck and ebony for the fret-board. All A++ grade. Pretty standard perhaps. Advice of the luthier is not to use hard woods for the top layer, because it needs to vibrate. Added some fret-wire, bone for the nut..so it feels like we bought some proper material.

From here on…

With some changed to the initial idea, I have to redesign a thing or three.

Coming up to do:

Roland Boutique JX-03 Review

February 27, 2018 | in: Instruments

I recently had a talk with the representative of Roland Benelux at my home. He mentioned that the Roland Boutiques are in limited supply. I’ve read that before, and did not think of it as something I should pay attention to. After this discussion, I started to get curious of how limited these units actually are. Very fast, I noticed that the JU-06 (Juno 106 recreation) was no where to be found anymore, and hardly second hand. They were a pain to get. More on that later. In the meantime, I found a JX-03 and started
Disclaimer: I did not play an original JX-3P.

First the look and feel

The Roland Boutiques feel very nice. Solid metal casing and pretty solid knobs as well. This does not feel like a toy. I personally do not like the micro-usb connector, and the micro-jacks, I always feel like its a mediocre connection.

The sound

I am very happily surprised with the sound of the JX-03. Its bold, straightforward and beautiful sounding. I do not have the feeling I am playing a digital synth.
Admitting that I never played the original one (like many), so I will not make any comparison with the two.

There are many articles to be found that say that the JX-3P does not have a lot of character. I think that they are wrong. With the low pass filter on lower regions, it has a very nice distinctive base sound. This video uses the sequencer for the base line look which I think is pretty characteristic. I do not hear this in my other synthesizers.

One of the first synth-lines I’ve made is the sequenced part of the opening tune of “Stranger Things”. I love the sound and comes very close to the original sound. The presets are fun, especially the synth-brass ones.

If you can get them cheap, and looking for this kinda sound… I would suggest to be quick 🙂

The Hurdy Gurdy

March 29, 2016 | in: Instruments

It all started a couple of years back while watching the title sequence from Black Sails (a Starz show). The sequence was beautifully made, rally well crafted…and then there was the music. There was a sound I couldn’t get my head around. It sounds like bag pipes, but it couldn’t be. Too much noise, clicks, and weird stringy vibratos that did not make sense at all. It sounded great, refreshing, weird and just got struck by the music it made.

Keep on reading: “The Hurdy Gurdy” →