Acoustically tuning soundboards in one form or another has been around for well over a hundred years and is one of the defining traits of the Gibson Loar Mandolins of the early 1920’s, the widely accepted “Stradivarius” of mandolins. Different techniques have been used over the years ranging for “Chlandi patterns” to “Tap Tuning”. From an engineering standpoint, Tap tuning is called “Modal analysis” and is a very well established engineering technique for accurately measuring the resonant frequencies of a body, like a mandolin body, and is used by the world leading manufacturers from airplanes to automobiles. What is different from other Luthiers is that I use an Agilent 35670 digital spectrum analyzer to very accurately measure ALL of the resonant frequencies of a soundboard (using a calibrated hammer and accelerometers) which allows me to consistently tune soundboards for maximum resonance across a specific range of notes on the fret board. The result is an instrument that really “stands out“, “Barks”, “sings”, cuts through” however you want to describe it, in the note range that you normally like to play. Modal Analysis is what enables the powerful, balanced tone, consistently from our mandolins.
Intonation is another improvement that I’ve been able to achieve through implementation of a technique developed by Gary Magliari at the Guild of American Luthiers called the Tension Compensated Fret Scale. This technique allows me to compensate for the slight ‘Sharpness” of notes as you move up the neck due to action height and increased string tension (thus sharping notes) during fretting. We’ve solved this problem by accurately modeling the string tension increase during fretting at each fret position and then modifying the fret scale and providing compensation at both the nut and bridge. The end result is that every fret intonates perfectly, all the way up the neck!