Lathe made musical instruments

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Matthew Dirks
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Joined: Mon Aug 04, 2014 3:03 pm

Lathe made musical instruments

Post by Matthew Dirks »

I recently got a wood lathe... I love working with it and have gotten rather good with it. Now I would like to see what everyones thoughts are on turning a frying pan style mandolin. Lets see what everyone has to say about the idea.

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Dan Pennington
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Re: Lathe made musical instruments

Post by Dan Pennington »

Intrigued by your idea. Tell me more about your design.
I've seen stuff about turning two banjo or uke necks simultaneously on a lathe, but nothing about mandolin type bodies on a lathe.
I turn banjo rims on a lathe. Are you talking about making the mandolin sides like a banjo rim?

Bob Hammond
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Re: Lathe made musical instruments

Post by Bob Hammond »

Hi Matthew,

I've been thinking about what could be made with my lathe as well. There are articles for ocarinas and flutes. For the mandolin, you could do a layered glueup for the body.

Harmon Gladding
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Re: Lathe made musical instruments

Post by Harmon Gladding »

I've use the lathe to make a mandolin arm rest.

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Jo Dusepo
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Re: Lathe made musical instruments

Post by Jo Dusepo »

Historically some instruments were made using lathes. For instance the medieval rebec and gittern, which are both small pear-shaped instruments. Some evidence suggests they'd turn the shape out of wood on a lathe (obviously not an electric one back then, must've taken a while!) and then the resulting shape would be cut in half, for two instrument bodies which would then be hollowed out. In modern times there are similar bowed instruments to the rebec such as the Cretan lyra and Bulgarian gadulka which could feasibly be made the same way.
I specialise in historical & world instruments.
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Bob Howell
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Re: Lathe made musical instruments

Post by Bob Howell »

I have read about a number of bowls harps. Even a guy, Tony in England says its his idea and no one else can make one.

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Jo Dusepo
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Re: Lathe made musical instruments

Post by Jo Dusepo »

Bob Howell wrote:
Thu Apr 16, 2020 8:36 pm
I have read about a number of bowls harps. Even a guy, Tony in England says its his idea and no one else can make one.
Nobody tell him about those medieval instruments then! :lol:
I specialise in historical & world instruments.
https://www.dusepo.co.uk

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Karl Wicklund
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Re: Lathe made musical instruments

Post by Karl Wicklund »

Oh, man, this makes me want even more to get my lathe set up!
Kaptain Karl

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Frank Dryer III
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Re: Lathe made musical instruments

Post by Frank Dryer III »

Matthew Dirks wrote:
Mon Aug 04, 2014 3:13 pm
I recently got a wood lathe... I love working with it and have gotten rather good with it. Now I would like to see what everyones thoughts are on turning a frying pan style mandolin. Lets see what everyone has to say about the idea.
Frying mandolin? Never heard of such thing :o

Alan Carruth
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Re: Lathe made musical instruments

Post by Alan Carruth »

There's a Chinese noise maker, the 'singing cicada', that's made from a section of large bamboo tube, open at both ends. One end is closed off with a membrane, like a banjo or kora. A string comes out of the middle of the membrane (use a washer?), and one end of the string is looped around a stick that has a grove in it. The grove is rosined. When you swing the tube around the stick the loop of the string sticks and slips, and this produces sounds that drive the membrane. It's the original Leslie! What's interesting about this is that the pitch of the sound depends mostly on the length of the string; as you swing it faster the pitch rises a little (from increased tension) but it mostly just gets louder. One could easily turn a tube for this, or use it for one of those Chinese 2-string fiddles that are also made from bamboo.

I've often thought of making racquet (spelling?); a sort of folded oboe. You turn a cylinder and drill seven holes in it. A cap is made to fit each end that has channels that connect the ends of the holes together to make a continuous folded tube. Finger holes to the outer lengths allow for pitch changes. a double reed in the middle is used to drive it. Apparently these were popular during the 30 Years' War: it was a bass instrument you could fit it your pocket if you had to get out of town fast.

That one came from a book I saw more than 50 years ago, entitled 'Wind Instrument Making' or some such. Lots of stuff about recorders, flutes, and so on, including methods for making taper reamers and getting the walls of the tube concentric.

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