Northfield Mandolins

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Archtop Octave Mandolin

Creating our octave mandolin has been a fun project. We've pulled together a variety of different specs and influences to create something very unique with its own voice and aesthetic. For inspiration we spent a lot of time looking at vintage arch top guitars. Due to the resurgence in popularity we also spent a lot of time looking at tenor guitars.

The ergonomics and overall size of the instrument needed to be considered carefully to create an instrument that would not only sound good but also be comfortable to play for a mandolin player. We felt this was often overlooked when it came to guitar bodied octave mandolins. The scale length and the fretting hand stretch is always a consideration with octave mandolins. But equally important for comfortable playing is the right arm and how it reaches around the body of the instrument. The dimesions of our octave mandolin body and the flat back yield something quite different than what is commonly found on the market today.

As a reference we looked to the guitars made by Martin in the 1930s. The C2 and C4 instruments were archtop guitars based on the body frame of a flat top guitar. We were able to get two original tops which had been removed from these Martin models by our good friend Joe Konkoly, head of the world renowned Elderly Instruments repair shop. Joe is a master luthier specializing in large jobs like converting the 30’s era Martin archtops to flattops as desired by many modern day players. While the Martin archtops are largely overlooked amongst other vintage examples we saw some very unique and desirable design qualities. They had a very unusual geometry to the arching of the top as well as the graduation. This arching, particularly the high peak of the arch running down the center of the instrument, yields a vibrant high end frequency response quite suitable for the octave mandolin. Increasing the volume of the instrument while keeping the balance and the articulation across all the strings was very important to us. We also spent a lot of time working on the proper string gauges for each course, paying a lot of attention to the feel of the string tension while playing the instrument.

We decided to make these instruments available in two distinct material combinations. The mahogany and spruce model yields a warmth perfect for accompanying a voice and backing up other instruments. The maple and spruce combo offers an attack and crispness that can carve out a sonic space inside of an ensemble, making it possible to be heard inside the crowd even when played in the lower registers.


Specifications for the models are below. We hope you enjoy the video demonstrations and look forward to talking with you about these new instruments.

  • Carved Arched top made of alpine spruce (Engelmann or Italian Red)
  • Flat Sides and Back - Solid Mahogany or Figured Maple
  • Neck Material: Mahogany or Figured maple on based on model
  • Scale Length: 559mm (22")
  • Tone Bar braced
  • Nut width: 35.50mm (1.40”)
  • String Spacing @ bridge: 46.70mm (1.84”)
  • Body length: 445mm
  • Body Width at lower bout: 347mm (13.7”)
  • Body Width at upper bout: 257mm (10.125 “)
  • Taper of the Body - Depth @ Endpin: 80mm (3.15”) @ Heel: 65mm (2.6”)
  • Ebony Fingerboard and Bridge
  • Machined brass "Nugget" Tailpiece
  • String Gauges: .049 .034 .022 .013 (inches)
  • Nut: Bone
  • Number of Frets: 19
  • Tuners: Schaller or Gotoh (depending on availability)
  • Finish: Shellac
  • Logo: Mother of pearl
  • Binding: Grained Ivoroid

Origin: Spruce from Italy, Mahogany from Africa, Ebony from Africa, built by Kosuke, Jiduo and Yin in our Qingdao Shop, set-up in Michigan by Derek.

Pricing: NF-ATO1 (Mahogany) $4000,  NF-ATO2 (Maple) $4500

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Take a look at our dealer list to find out where you can try out one of our instruments. Click here.

Contact Us

130 W Michigan Ave.
Marshall, MI 49068

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(877) 367-7304


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