Skip to main content


Showing posts from July, 2018

Introducing The Red Fox from Mando Mo Strings

Introducing The Red Fox from Mando Mo Strings

$445.00 instrument$495.00 w/hard shell case$520.00 w/shipping
I take PayPal.  Simply send the amount to make sure your SHIPPING address is included (not your billing address) so I send it to the right place.  I ship via FedEx Ground.  You can also pick one up at my studio in Granby, MA.  Use the Contact form on the sidebar to let me know what you'd like to do.

This latest F5-style mandolin is gorgeous to look at, and has a beautiful well-rounded tone with a lot of projection.  A group of Celtic mandolin players loved the way it sounds recently, suggesting it would make a wonderful addition to any traditional Celtic or Classical ensemble.

Each Red Fox comes with:
Neck Material: MahoganyFingerboard: RosewoodHardware Color: SilverNut:Bone 1 1/8" (Standard Neck)Bridge: Adjustable EbonyScale Length:13 7/8"Body Style: F StyleBody Dimensions:25 1/2" x 10" x 1 15/16"Body Top:Solid Sitka Spruce 1…

My Lagan Love by Joseph Campbell

"My Lagan Love" is a song to a traditional Irish air collected in 1903 in northern Donegal.

1) Where Lagan stream sings lullaby
There blows a lily fair
The twilight gleam is in her eye
The night is on her hair
And like a love-sick lennan-shee
She has my heart in thrall
Nor life I owe nor liberty
For love is lord of all.

2) Her father sails a running-barge
'Twixt Leamh-beag and The Druim;
And on the lonely river-marge
She clears his hearth for him.
When she was only fairy-high
Her gentle mother died;
But dew-Love keeps her memory
Green on the Lagan side.

3) And often when the beetle's horn
Hath lulled the eve to sleep
I steal unto her shieling lorn
And thru the dooring peep.
There on the cricket's singing stone,
She spares the bogwood fire,
And hums in sad sweet undertone
The songs of heart's desire

4) Her welcome, like her love for me,
Is from her heart within:
Her warm kiss is felicity
That knows no taint of sin.
And, when I stir my foot to go,
'Tis lea…

Difference between air-dried and kiln-dried mandolins

Here's a video I made recently about the differences between air-dried and kiln-dried wood on mandolins: and a podcast I did where I go more into depth about the subject matter:

New from Sweet Music Studio: Student Violin

My student violin is a Palatino set up for my students with new strings, new bridge, and adjusted soundpost for optimum sound.  The best-selling Campus violin is hand-carved and features a meticulously graduated spruce top to maintain consistency in tone. This is a student favorite because of its fine tuner tailpiece and lightweight case.

The violin comes with:
Spruce TopMaple Back, Sides & NeckFine Tuner TailpieceEbonized Frog BowFeatherweight CaseAdjusted soundpostCarved nutWe have other models without the abalone inlay for $50 off SRP. Please Ask.
$149 with a featherweight case and bow$99 without the case and bow
In this video, Adam talks about his Palatino violin:

New from Mando Mo Strings - The Seal - Koa/Abalone Ukulele

New from Mando Mo Strings - The Seal - Koa/Abalone Ukulele.  Shown here is The Seal deluxe, hand carved gorgeous uke with a lovely gloss finish.

This is a beautiful instrument.  It has a sweet sweet tone!
$245.00 instrument$295.00 w/hard shell case$320.00 w/shipping
I take PayPal.  Simply send the amount to make sure your SHIPPING address is included (not your billing address) so I send it to the right place.  I ship via FedEx Ground.  You can also pick one up at my studio in Granby, MA.  Use the Contact form on the sidebar to let me know what you'd like to do.

The Seal comes with: Nut Width: 38MMSaddle Width: 85MMUpper Bout: 172MMBody Bout: 223MMString Scale: 432MMBody Length: 305MMFrets: 18Top,Back&Side: All Solid Acacia BodyNeck: Solid MahoganyString: Aquila StringsMachine Head: Open Gold PlatedNut&Saddle: Ox BoneFingerboard&Bridge: Solid Indian RosewoodWhite Copper Frets/White Pearl IdotsBinding: Top AbaloneRosette Abalone

Mando Mo strings is a…

The Terrier by Mando Mo Strings

The Terrier - F5 style, no binding
$395 instrument $445 w/hard shell case $465 w/shipping I take PayPal.  Simply send the amount to make sure your SHIPPING address is included (not your billing address) so I send it to the right place.  I ship via FedEx Ground.  You can also pick one up at my studio in Granby, MA.  Use the Contact form on the sidebar to let me know what you'd like to do.

Adam thinks this is an amazing price for a good bluegrass F5 style mandolin:

The Terrier is a lovely instrument to play!  It has a gorgeous sound and the slightly wider neck makes it easier to play than the Tortoise.  With a standard sized body, this model is available in F and A styles.  We like the carved sides without binding.  Very satisfying!

Mandolin for Beginners Group Class

The Mandolin for Beginners Group Class will be starting up again. 

The first class is Monday, August 6th, 2018 at 7pm.  The class is 2 hours.

This is a perfect class for adults who wish to learn how to play the mandolin in a group setting with other adults.  We will learn how to hold the instrument and pick, how to play scales and chords, how to read music, how to sing and play at the same time (it can be done!), and how to improvise.

I have mandolins for rent if you do not have one of your own.

The cost of the group is $15 per class.

There are openings for 5 adults.

The Monroe Brothers - 1932 to 1938

The Monroe Brothers began as a trio of Birch, Charlie, and Bill Monroe on fiddle, guitar and mandolin respectively, performing square dance songs as well as traditional and gospel numbers.

In 1932, Bill and Charlie began touring professionally with the WLS touring company as dancers, appearing with the Hoosier Hot Shots and Red Foley among others, and in 1934 secured the sponsorship of the Texas Crystals Company, a manufacturer of laxatives. The association provided the Monroes with a steady stream of radio work for over a year until competing laxative maker Crazy Water Crystals took over sponsorship of the duo while they continued working on many of the same stations.

The radio appearances made the Monroe Brothers a popular live act, which prompted the interest of RCA to recording the two. In mid-February the Monroe Brothers made their first recordings for RCA's Bluebird imprint, and went on to wax 60 sides in the following two years.

Their music at this point was firmly within …

Let's Talk About Ukes

Jake Shimabukuro: Over The Rainbow
Today I want to talk a little about the Ukulele.  I'm a mandolin and fiddle player who dabbles in acoustic guitar and banjo, so learning this little instrument wasn't terribly difficult for me.  It also helps that I have Suzuki ear training (I can hear when I've played a wrong note).  But I knew next to nothing about the history of the instrument, where it came from and how it got to be so popular.  Here's what I've learned:

The little instrument has gone from being an exotic new trend to the embodiment of kitsch since it arrived on Hawaii 125 years ago, but is currently enjoying a revival.

The instrument, with its four plastic strings and a short neck, originated in Europe and was introduced to Hawaii in 1879 when a Portuguese immigrant named Joao Fernandez jumped off the boat and started strumming and singing with his branguinha (a small guitar-like instrument, sometimes called the machete). The crowd of Hawaiians were so impres…

Resonance Requires Air-Dried Tonewood

There are several schools of thought as to what makes a good tonewood. But in the end, a maker can’t be 100 percent sure they have built a nice-sounding mandolin until it is finished and played. However, there are factors along the way, starting with the selection of the species, that are the key to making a quality instrument. Tight grain is not essential, but pieces with wide growth rings are best to avoid. The wood has to be quartersawn, thereby preventing any expansion and contraction like there would be with flat-sawn wood, which tends to warp. Then there is the tap test.

“You look for woods that have a good tap tone to them, that resonate when you tap them,” says Bob Cefalu, owner of RC Tonewoods & Sons in Kenmore, N.Y. “Most of the rosewoods fall into that category. I don’t know if there is really such a thing as a bad tonewood, because probably 90 percent of the sound comes from the top or the soundboard. A good, stiff soundboard in Sitka [spruce], Engelman [spruce], or a…

Kiln-dried or Air-dried Tonewood. What's the difference?

If you’ve seriously shopped for a premium instrument, you have most likely heard the term tonewood applied to the materials coveted by mandolin builders (and even some musicians). It generally applies to the woods used to build musical instruments, usually those with strings such as violins, cellos, mandolins and guitars. The inherent effect of different wood species upon the tonality of an instrument is a never-ending discussion, but little is heard about how wood is prepared.

The idea of old wood has currency among builders, but unless properly seasoned, a board’s age is a worthless statistic. Labels like “air dried” and “century old” are suspect because these designations by themselves mean nothing. As we start to examine the actual science behind how wood gains and loses moisture, the fallacy of these sorts of terms becomes clear. The correct seasoning of wood that’s used for mandolins is important, but exactly why is a bit opaque as viewed through the lens of marketing.

Why We Dr…

Origins of the Violin Part 3 - Andrea Amati (1505-1577)

Andrea Amati was born in 1505 Cremona, Italy.  It was in the workshop of Andrea Amati (ca. 1505-1577) in Cremona, Italy, in the middle of the 16th century that the form of the instruments of the violin family as we know them today first crystallized.  Several of his instruments survive to the present day, and some of them can still be played. Many of the surviving instruments were among a consignment of 38 instruments delivered to Charles IX of France in 1564.

According to a biography by Roger Hargrave, Amati was one of the top candidates scholars have advanced for the "inventor of the violin." The two other candidates he named were Fussen born in a region now part of present-day Germany. The other candidate he named was Gasparo' da Salo from Brescia.

The violin-like instruments that existed when Amati began his career only had three strings. Amati is credited with creating the first four stringed violin-like instrument. Laurence Witten also lists Amati and Gasparo'…

Origins of the Violin Part 2

Welcome to the Sweet Music Studio!  Today, I'm continuing to explore the history of the violin.  As I've shown in previous posts, violin owes its existence to ancient instruments such as the rabab, rebec, vielle and viola/lira, used in northern Africa and eventually Europe. These instruments were played in an upright position and bowed.  The viola early stringed instrument evolved over time in Europe into two separate families of instrument: those that were held in the arms and square in shape ("viola di braccio") and those that were positioned between the legs and shaped with sloped shoulders ("viola da gamba"). They both enjoyed great success and wide use, but over time the instruments held in the arms became more popular and led to the development of the violin in and around 1550. Marco Cara- lyra da braccio The classic master period of Italian violin making stretched from the 16th to the 18th century. Famous luthiers included the Guarneri, Amati, da Sal…