© Frank Ford, 2000; Photos by FF
Here's the instrument we first think of when somebody mentions the phrase, "Martin mandolin." In more or less continuous production since about World War I, this pear shaped oval hole flat mandolin is a standard of the industry. Much lighter in weight and sound than the Gibson carved instruments, the Martin saw favor among classical players who liked the sound of the bowl back mandolins.
This flat instrument shows clear Portuguese influence in its design. The smooth transition from the sides to the shape of the neck a the body joint, and the flat back are both reminiscent of Portuguese instruments. Notice also, the top, which has a bend right at the bridge, much the same as the bowl back mandolins of Italian descent. Clearly it's a matter of strength, and to allow a "break" over the bridge providing good downward string pressure.
While it never achieved either the tonal or economic power of the carved Gibson style instruments, this short scale mandolin has become a sort of classic in its own right.
Please click the small image