Bamboo Mandolin
by Bill Garofalo

I have finished a 4 string instrument, tuned like an octave mandolin but with single strings, that without doubt is the ugliest I have ever made. So why spend all the hours?

I made the mandolin as a remembrance of our wonderful trip to China. For three months we traveled 10,000 miles and went to a dozen cities; I swear my wife had close friends in every one. We got private limos that took us to many places that tourists never see. Like a new dam construction site where huge turbines were being built. Her friends would take us to lunch at beautiful hotels with pools where thousands of tiny fish come and nibble off dead skin from your feet. People who live and work in the big cities have very nice life styles, but in the countryside the people are very poor.

One of the places we went was the Bamboo Forest in the City of Chendu, where you can see the Giant Pandas. They have a restaurant in the complex that serves food made from bamboo. Ugh. While there, I expressed the desire to have a piece of bamboo around 20 inches long, in the largest diameter. Already in my mind I had this idea to make an instrument. Within minutes a man put a piece of bamboo on our table. I was stunned. He would take no money, so I thanked him very much.

The diameter was about 4 inches. That's less than I wanted, so for the many months that passed till I actually started my project, I was thinking how I could get more top surface. I decided to split the bamboo the long way, and then join the long sides, doubling the width of the top to about 8 inches. It would still be a rectangular instrument, and like I said, very ugly.

Materials used to make a bamboo mandolin Full view of the back of the Bamboo Mandolin
Full view of the top of the Bamboo mandolin with decorative additions the other side of the top of the Bamboo mandolin
Looking down from the top of the Bamboo mandolin Back side view, looking down from the top of the Bamboo mandolin Bill Garofalo playing the Bamboo mandolin

Bill Garofalo
2206 Jacobs Ladder Rd
Becket MA 01223

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