Double Neck Mandolin/Ukulele

Difficulty: Advanced+

Cost: $$$

I’ve been planning on building a double neck mando/uke for a couple of years.  I like the aesthetic of the Gibson Double Neck EDS-1275, especially the top neck having double the strings of the bottom one.  Different things delayed me starting this project, and I’m glad they did because I was able to refine my techniques and gain the proper tools to do the job right. This was my most involved and labor intensive project yet.

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tune-o-matic

I wanted to have Tune-o-matic style bridges for this instrument, but I couldn’t find any ones with four strings.  After seeing a thread on the Mandolin Cafe Forums,   I contacted Pete Mallinson of Almuse Mandolins to ask him some questions about some custom bridges he had made.   He gave me the confidence to mill my own with a drill press and some needle files.  The above picture was a test run that I did.   I refined the process for the two bridges I used for the Mandolin/Ukulele.  I purchased some blank saddles for the 8 string mandolin side and cut string slots with some speciality files.

double proto

I did my normal layout and size check before I started to cut things.  Both of the necks have 17 inch scale lengths.  I tuned the mandolin neck an octave lower than a regular mando, so it can be considered an “octave mandolin”.

double body

I cut the body out of solid mahogany and beveled some of the edges.

double fretboards

The fretboards are made of bubinga and were bound with plastic binding.  Even though the mandolin has more strings, the fretboard is narrower to keep the feel of a mandolin.

necks

i’ve made a bunch of electric ukuleles, but I have never put a truss rod in them.  With a short scale and quality wood,  I didn’t see the need.  I did put a non-adjustable truss rod in the mandolin neck to combat the added tension of the 8 strings.  I put a matching one in the ukulele neck for balance. I routed out the pockets and epoxied the rods.

double

After the body was routed, a made some wooden pickguards and dry fitted everything.  I then carefully disassembled everything and put the hardware aside.

double laquer

The body and necks were  tinted with a transparent red nitrocellulose stain and then clear coated with glossy nitrocellulose.  The headstock faces were sprayed with opaque black.

double drying

“After the paintin’ comes the waitin’.”   I stowed the body and necks in a closet for a 2 weeks to let the lacquer cure.

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This thing is a real beauty.  I really like the look and texture of the black, wooden pickguards. The pickups look like humbuckers, but are really single coil.  The three-way switch by the tailpieces is able to select either or both necks.

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Under the cavity cover,  a couple of 500K potentiometers and a .022uF Orange Drop capacitor to provide a master volume and tone control.  I used 4 neck mounting ferrules to attach the necks.  They might become my new standard for mounting necks.  They look and work very nice.

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Talking about the double neck.

Demo time!

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