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Distinctive Design and Sound

The Dammann five-course Mandocello gets its distinctive sound from its five sets of double strings and from the harmonic voicing which springs from an instrument tuned to fifths as opposed to the fourths which predominate on the guitar.

Our mandocello is designed to excel in both rhythm and lead situations. As a rhythm instrument, the addition of a fifth course extends the mandocello’s range to that of a guitar, while offering a low C, two steps below that of a guitar. The fifth course doubles the number of open chords using standard mandolin technique (and even more under alternate tunings) and allows for rich chord voicing when all five are used. The additional course also lends itself to lead work in the upper registers with the double unison courses adding depth, sustain, power and tremolo capability for melodic lines. Our mandocello is responsive with ample volume and headroom, evenly balanced across all five strings, and harmonically rich with definition between notes.

Responsiveness and volume are maximised through careful selection of materials, a well-developed bracing design, and meticulous joinery. Our mandocello’s soundboards, back, and side stock are all selected to be as light yet stiff as possible. The bracing is a variant on the traditional X that has been refined through numerous iterations to be as strong yet vibrant as possible.

To cope with the increased string tension of a five course instrument, the key braces are capped with carbon fibre for increased stiffness, stability, and resistance to splitting with the added benefit of added tonal brilliance and clarity. All braces and interlocking components are fitted by hand to ensure minimal gaps so that the entire bracing structure is interlocked, thus increasing structural integrity. Most importantly, each piece is hand ‘thicknessed’ and shaped taking into account the properties of each individual piece of wood so that only the essential amount of wood remains to keep the soundbox light and responsive to the touch, but still stiff enough to achieve high headroom when pushed hard.

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