Featured Expert Martin Edwards, Amateur Luthier
I started building stringed instruments because after
25 years of playing guitar & bass, I knew that I
would never be able to justify spending the money on a
Lowden Acoustic. I'm not a good enough player,
and I have a wife, four kids and a mortgage to think
My first build was a fretless bass. It had...
issues.... Though it is playable, I don't play
Knowing I would never buy a Lowden I thought I'd
do the next best thing & I joined an evening class at
a local college hosted by Sam Irwin, who was one of
George Lowden's original Luthiers who went on to be
production manager at Avalon.
I learned LOADS from Sam and owe him a huge debt of
While I was on that course I was building other things
in the background. Well, I say background, I'm
a technology teacher so I have access to most of the
necessary tools at work, so my workshop in school is
coming down with part built instruments.
I'd always fancied a mandolin, but my big
farmer's fingers wouldn't fit on a standard
mando fretboard, so I built one for myself. Mish
saw the pics on JS and lo and behold, I had my first
||A pair of carved top mandolins. The lefty one
now lives with JS mod Mishmannah
The mandonaught concept came along next.
||Maple & Sitka Mandonaught.
I reckoned that carving the top of a mando was waaaayy
too much hard work, so I decided to make a flat top, and
as it was cheaper to make my own model than buy someone
else's plans I came up with a guitar shape. Mando (lin
dread) naught gettit? I've made a bunch of
these now, some with cutaways, some in other woods, but I
keep coming back to walnut for the back & sides.
It's beautiful, sounds good and the sides bend like
butter. What more could a luthier ask for?
Next step in the mandonaughts evolution was to move the
bridge more centrally on the soundboard. I
shortened the body by 2" and though I loose a bit of
the guitar shape, the volume and bass response are
The latest incarnation of the mandonaught. The
shortened body puts the bridge more in the centre of the
I've built two doubleneck acoustics, a Les Paul,
a guitar shaped bouzouki, an acoustic bass.... And a
||24 fret Les Paul for a friend's son's 18th
birthday. Come to think of it, he's a JSer too,
One of two doubleneck acoustics I've built.
This one's in Co Cork, Ireland.
Altogether at the time of typing I've built 25
stringed instruments, and to misquote someone a lot
smarter than me, the more I learn, the more I realise I
The "pay it forward" guitar, now also
residing in Co Cork!!
If I can help you with anything to do with the
building or setting up of guitars/mandos etc I'll do
all I can.
|One that DIDN'T get away!!! A
leopardwood cedar 00 that I kept and play daily.
other "keeper" East Indian Rosewood, cedar
Jumbo built at Sam Irwin's evening class.
Where possible I like to do my little bit to save the
world. I have a contact in a major
shopfitter's company who lets me rummage in their
scrap box and use wood that would otherwise be chipped
and fed into their boiler. Most of the walnut &
mahogany I use comes from there.
If you want me to build you something, then PM me and
I'll see what we can agree on. I don't
charge Pro rates as this is a hobby, in fact for a few of
my builds, the single most expensive part of the deal has
been the postal charges!!
StoneDragon's guitar lessons for beginners and theory for the more advanced guitar player.