6 and 4 courses XVIII century Mandolin setup: A few considerations

by Mimmo Peruffo


When faced with the problem of what kind of strings were used on the 18th century Mandolins of six and four courses, the first thing that stands out is the great heterogeneity of these set up. What is really hard to understand is particularly on the 4 course Neapolitan Mandolin: here we find together gut strings; single and twisted metal wires; wound strings on gut/silk. To complete the already heterogeneous picture, for the 4th course there are also two choices between unison and octave.
Here is the first question: why was it used a gut 1st and not a metal wire like the other courses, when it was then in use in the 1st half of the nineteenth century?
This question is logic: the average breaking load stress (Breaking Point) of the gut is ‘only’ 34 Kg/mm2, much lower than the average of iron and bronze of the time, which easily exceeded 100 Kg/mm2.
To understand the reason, we must first start from the mechanical and acoustic behaviour of the string. In this way we will be able to try to figure out what were the guiding criteria used to determine the vibrating lengths of plucked and bowed instruments, including Mandolins.

click here to read more


Rome (Museo Nazionale degli Strumenti Musicali)

Investigations concerning  lute bass bridge-hole measeuraments and  for the  ‘Museum old string Database Project’ (Febbrary and April 2007, Febbrary 2008)

(we collected some hundreds of pictures; pratically all the  plucked and bowed instruments of the museum, harps not enclosed)
Continue reading

Historical stringmaking

These are the first immages in the world concerning some phases of the historical gut string manufacturing teached us by some elderly italian stringmakers of the  Abruzzi’s region (Center Italy) in the 2008 and 2009 years.  There is a strict connection with   the historical sources of the 18  and 19th centuries.

Continue reading

The Historical Veneto stringmaking

City of Padua

Chronology of events of the string maker ‘Priuli so-called Romanin ‘ in the city of Padua (our research of 2002-2004)

1) The string making was founded in 1613 by Antonio Romanin which was succeeded by Antonio Priuli. The company was therefore called ‘Antonio Pruli so-called Romanin ‘ and so remained until became property  inherited by Callegari family.

Continue reading

The Historical Abruzzi’s stringmaking

The reasons of our research

The research we are going to present started almost unconsciously in autumn 2006, when we went in Acerra (Na) to interview one of the last old stringmakers from Abruzzo, heir of the tradition of his father who was working in Naples. Our intention was to gather some general information about the history of Italian stringmakers.

Continue reading

The Octobass String Project

In 1996 we received a request by the Musée de la Musique in Paris for the realization of two copies of original setup of ‘Octobass built in 1850 by Jean Baptiste Vuillaume (1798-1875).

Continue reading