Two models of mandolino are currently offered on this page, a four/five course mandolino and a six course instrument..

Background and general information:

The mandolino (sometimes called "Milanese mandolin" or "Baroque mandolin") is a small lute family instrument that was very popular in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The most notable composer to have written music for mandolino was Antonio Vivaldi. It can have four, five or six double courses (sometimes with a single chanterelle). It is usually played with the finger tips but occassionally plectrum playing is called for. The number of frets encountered varies but eight is a usual number. Whereas most mandolini tend to have a bowl similar to lutes in proportion some later six course mandolini (often of Roman origin) have a deeper bowl with wide side ribs in a manner similar to but not as extreme as the later Neapolitan mandolin.

Although most mandolini were made in Italy one finds instruments from other countries. For example, in the eighteenth century one finds French makers such as Jean Nicholas Lambert of Paris.

Unlike other extant lutes one frequently finds parchment roses on mandolini (interestingly, iconography would suggest that other lutes sometimes had this feature as well). A fundamental stylistic difference between the mandolino and most lute family instruments however is the pegbox which tends to be sickle shaped. Occassionally guitar shaped peg-boxes are encountered.

1. Four or five course mandolino based on an instrument by Ambrogio Marafi, Milan, c.1689 (GNM Nuremberg, MIR 873), eleven ribs:

This model is offered with a string-length of 31.7cm. Although the original has five courses (1x1, 3x2, 1x1) it possibly started life as or was built on the pattern of a four course mandolino (strung 4x2). We offer this instrument in either a standard five course (1x1 4x2) configuration or a four course (4x2) configuration.

2. Six course mandolino based on Giovanni Smorsone, Rome, c.1724 (RCM 107), thirteen ribs:

This model is offered with a string length of 34cm. Its courses are arranged 6x2. The original is of Roman make and it exhibits a feature that seems to have been popular there in the eighteenth century which is a deepened bowl with increased volume and wide side ribs.

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