Decisions were made to prioritize air-dried tone-wood (instead of the standard Chinese practice of using a kiln to dry the wood), solid or flamed maple, Triple A grade ebony or rosewood fittings, scalloped solid tailpieces, Brekke or MMS's patented solid ebony/bone bridges, adjustable truss rods, a variety of neck widths.
Mandomo Strings was founded by Al Belunis. Al is an amateur mandolinist, a guitar player, and a student of mine. I learned about his mandolin company a few years ago when he was just getting started. At the time, I made some suggestions and helped him with a website and Facebook page in exchange for some projects at my house (I love barter, by the way. If you have a skill please let me know. I'm always up for bartering. For example, a lawyer student bartered a house closing in '09 for a couple of months of lessons, a kitchen-design manager bartered a new dishwasher for lessons and an electrician wired my chicken coop in exchange for services). Fast forward to 2018 and I find myself completely engaged in the company. It's really wonderful to be able to offer my experience working with China and importing products with a local company. I find it very satisfactory. In addition, I have the opportunity to play these beautiful instruments!
Al stopped by my studio in the summer of 2018. I recorded this video of his visit:
The Bull Dog
This is the top of the line F5 model mandolin. Al calls it The Bull Dog because of his own pup whom he named the company after: Mo. The mandolin is beautiful to look at with its hand-carved top, scroll and its binding, "tobacco" finish. This model is very popular with the bluegrass group.
|The Bull Dog - Bluegrass Mandolin|
Here's a video I made of the Bull Dog
A few years ago, the company that assembles Mandomo products made a binding suggestion that Al liked: faux tortoiseshell. Now for those of you who don't know, tortoiseshell is illegal here in the United States. I own a tortoiseshell pick that I got back in the 1970s when it was legal. I love it. It's gorgeous to look at and warms up when you hold it in your hand. This tortoiseshell binding is simply lovely. It makes the instrument stand out and look unique. The binding goes around the top AND back, something that most Eastman mandolins do not, for example. This is a bluegrass mandolin, meaning it has the chop, projection and bright sound you'd expect from an F5 mandolin.
|The Tortoise - Bluegrass Mandolin|
The Tortoise has been constructed with flamed maple back, sides and neck, solid spruce top,
Brekke adjustable bridge, high quality Optima strings imported from Germany, Tusq Nut, 18:1 Tuners. Top Tap Tuned to A440 Frequency.
Here's what one of the customers says about it: "The mandolin was everything I asked for. Beautiful maple sides and back. The inlays on the fretboard and headstock and binding were solid and clean. The mandolin is very well made, I had no issues with any of the craftsmanship of the instrument. I am sure you would be pleased with your purchase." ~ Greg Short, Brinkhaven, OH
Here's a video I made of the Tortoise:
The Red Fox
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.
|The Red Fox - Celtic Mandolin|
Each Red Fox comes with: Mahogany back, sides and neck, solid Sitka spruce top, Rosewood fretboard, nickel silver hardware, standard 1 1/8" bone nut (other sizes are available by special order, please ask), adjustable ebony bridge, 13 7/8" scale length, abalone headstock Mando Mo logo, Pearl snow flake dots, white side dot color, natural satin or gloss nitro finish (please ask). The instrument was hand-carved and constructed with air-dried (3-5 years) tonewood, top tap-tuned to A440 frequency.
Here's a video I made about the Red Fox
Other mandolins, guitars and ukuleles:
Mandomo Strings makes a few other styles of mandolins, guitars and ukuleles. I can't list them all here because there are so many. I suggest you head over to the website, though, and read about them for yourself.
If you want to try any of the instruments and you're local (Massachusetts), please let me know and we can set up a date/time. I'm always around and happy to share them with you!