Maxine's Custom Mandola


Constructed by Siminoff Banjo and  Mandolin, Atascadero California U.S.A.

This will be my first Mandola, and I am looking forward to the challenge of completing this very nicely built instrument.
Roger Siminoff is well known for his efforts in Tonal research and has written  books on that subject.
It was one of the first things I read when I chose to do Lutherie' and has always been an asset to have in the shop.
He is also known for putting out quality work and for standing behind his methods and theories so it is good to know if I need his support I'll have it.
This instrument was carried to a 90 percent completed stage, and has been tap tuned (frequency adjusted) so that it will produce to its maximum potential of the woods selected.


Ordered with custom case

It smells WONDERFUL, inquiring minds must know what's in the case to do that!

Everything is assembled and ready for inlay/fingerboard installation/Binding/ peghead inlay/frets and finish

Nicely figured Maple back with a semi flamed neck, should look stunning

All glue joints are tight and professionally done, I would expect no less from Roger's folks.

I asked for peghead to be drilled and reamed for bushings, its so much nicer than by hand

Binding channels are routed, truss is in and adjusted

Nice to have someone think to give you labels that say "LOOK OUT... you are fixing to mess up!"


Inlay back from Dave Nichols and Custom Pearl Inlay
Dave does fine work and this came in exactly as I had hoped and gives the Gulf Coast look we wished or.

The mixed shell types always give a nice   theme

And the detail is lost in the pics, it is much nicer in person.

One shot of the peghead, the M is for Maxine and Mondello
The Lighthouse is a historical marker in Port Isabel Tx.


Back from Siminoff with the binding and fingerboard extension support in place

Everything is just roughed in, they did not offer that in the pricing of this Kit but I decided to return it for the work since I am not really tooled up for that procedure.
The rest I can fabricate tools and get along OK.

The binding is semi profiled and standing proud on the sides, I will reduce that bulk first

Corners installed and semi shaped, with filler in place

After reduction with the Dremel, Im taking the rest b razor

There is alot to do around and inside of the scroll, special sanders will need to be devised to go into this area.
I'll bet Siminoff snickers every time he gets a newbie like me to deal with these things but I have a few more tricks up my sleeve than average Joe!

Yeah, looks like tons of room when its all magnified eh?

Binding reduction on 1/2 the top completed and profile sanding the areas affected by that as well as the top on the Bass side

Smoothing up the fholes with my Riffler

One side and 1/2 the top are sanded to 400 grit for now, I'll just take the time needed to go round and round until it is at 1200 grit while I get ready to fret and glue the fingerboard
It shows that things will clean up nicely after the  sanding and profiling procedures are complete

There are some really complicated sanding issues inside of the scroll and I'll consult Luthiers that do this all of the time for some tricks on sanding devices I can add into the ones I already have

Many little recesses and such, ..It'll be fun?

The top is sanded to 600 grit and sealed, working in the sides one bout at a time, I have about 3/4 of that done now
It will be sanded at 800 and then 1200 for the final and then tints applied, Im looking for smooth transitions at the Bone corners to the wood

Sides completed and ready to seal

Profile scraping the back binding with a radius scraper to get into all the carved places

All has been sanded down to 400 fine, and I will seal it now

We will stop here and get ready to fret and then mount the fingerboard

After scraping the binding to profile, Im smoothing the glue remnants off the board

Fretting with "EVO" wire and a 12" radius caul

Ready to trim ends

After compression you can easily see something that is invisible when you fret a board that's on the neck and that is the frets drive a curve into the neck as they fill the slots.
This is why compression fretting a bowed neck can help somewhat, the recurve pushes down and helps stabilize the fingerboard

Sealing with #10 Stewmac

Ready for side markers

That's a look before preparing the board for installation to the neck

Heating up some hide glue while the watchdog gets a nap

I told him he has to move now.......he don't wanna!

Board glued and clamped for 24 hours

Shaping the neck profile with Rifflers

Contour sanding the radiused areas

One side completed and ready for fine sanding

Other side 90 percent, now to work the tight areas

Profiling completed and sanded to 320, sealer coat applied


A little more detail sanding in a couple of areas and then the first setup.
I will set it up completely and then take it back down and do the final color coat/ clear coats after it is ready to play

Getting the hardware out so I can mount everything and drill all screw holes before final finish work

Everything is Gold plated

Now to prepare the tints for the color scheme

This will be done in tinted lacquer, with Transtint Orange and Vintage Maple mixture

First tint applied

Second tint applied, now I am scraping all the binding clean so I can begin clear coats.

First clear coat
Burst is starting to deepen now

This pic is close to actual color, its hard to see in the lights

Now to take on more clear coats until I get where I need to be.

 I like the colors when the lens flash isn't a factor, which is not now!

Adding some clear coats
Plectra is enjoying the cool spell.

After wetsanding to 1200 then machine buffing the areas the big buffs could hit'
I've moved on the the 3 stage hand polishing stages since there are so many tight spots and corners and the foam wheels will  bring it to a high shine and are formed to reach tight spots

Final Swirl remover goes on  a swirling wheel to remove swirls.


After a few coats of Renaissance wax, ready to install hardware

I cut a MOP truss cover for it

Now to cut a new bone nut and shape the bridge, clean up the last of the buffing residue and such before designing a pickguard for it.


Im checking to see the lightest gauges that will work on a 15.5" scale instrument that will be tuned CGBD, a little different that standard Mandola CGDA
I've decided upon an .042 wound for the C and an 015 Steel for the D, anything less is too slack at full tension
So now to calibrate the others and see what will be in the center courses


Setting up in CGBD on Thomastik-Enfield  flatwounds

I tried an armrest from Greg Boyd and it is too small by 1/16" thi sbnody is a hair bigger than 2"

So I will send it back and see what I can come up with

For now, its going tro be settling in and I will work with the setup until Max gets home to Tx.

Glamour Shots

Showing the size against a Tenor Banjo, you can see its bigger than Mandolin, for those that haven't yet grasped the difference!

A good size for comfortable playing



Im still searching for a suitable armrest and I may still make a custom pickguard, Maxine does not like the standard look and neither do I
The tone is VG, playability is VG with low action and warm tone
It needs to be played so it can open on up and make music so I tuned it to CGDA and will play on it to help that along

Custom Pickguard

I got out my laminated plastic pickguard material and rough cut what I intend to use
Now I'll need to profile it and cut a bridge notch
You cut the edges at a bevel to reveal the multi color

That will be the basic look and I'll stop here to mount brackets, I'll need to send one off for gold plating.
I will  remove a little bit more from the bottom then test mount it

OK, I have the brackets fabricated and the mounting completed so I will take  that bracket and have it plated and continue my quest for an armrest

I did get in an armrest that would work on this body but my other pics were lost .

Thanks for watching,