Archtop Octave Mandolin
The Northfield Archtop Octave Mandolin is 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 within an ensemble, making it possible to be heard even when played in the lower registers.
In creating our octave mandolin, we’ve pulled together a variety of specs and influences to create something with a unique voice and aesthetic. We found inspiration in vintage archtop and tenor guitars.
The ergonomics and size of the instrument needed to be considered carefully to not only ensure incredible sound, but also be comfortable for a mandolin player—this was often overlooked when it came to guitar bodied octave mandolins. The scale length and fretting hand stretch is always a consideration with octave mandolins, but equally important for comfortable playing is how the right arm reaches around the body of the instrument. The dimensions and flat back of our octave mandolin body yield something quite different than what is found on the market today.
As a reference we looked at C2 and C4 Martin guitars from the 1930s—these instruments were archtop guitars based on the body frame of a flat top guitar. We were able to get our hands on 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 recognized 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.
Top: Carved Arched top made of Italian Red spruce
Pick Guard: Ebony
Sides / Back / Neck: Solid Mahogany or Figured Maple
Tailpiece: Machined brass "Nugget" Tailpiece
Bridge / Fingerboard Material: Arched ebony
Scale Length: 559mm (22")
Nut Width: 35.50mm (1.40”)
String Spacing: 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”)
Tone bar: braced
String Gauges: .052 .034 .022 .014 (inches)
Number of Frets: 19
Finish Material: 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 by Derek in Michigan.
Mahogany Variation: $4000
Maple Variation: $4500