Graham McDonald Stringed Instruments
Welcome to my Website
The website is some pages of information about the musical instruments I build, the books about musical instruments published by MusicBooks Press, useful and interesting things such as an online String Tension Calculator, and a page of links and downloads including part of a book from the early 20th century on making mandolins, a couple of articles on old-time Australian dance music as well as some other links to websites that could be helpful.
I have been building musical instruments for almost 40 years, a lot of the time while working in other jobs, almost all music and arts related. In the early 1990s, I became a music journalist by accident and that encouraged me to write books about musical instruments. There are now four books available, three how-to manuals for building stringed instruments and a comprehensive history of mandolin family instruments around the world.
I started building instruments because I wanted an Irish bouzouki to play and at that time building one seemed the easiest way of getting one. That led to another, then a guitar, a mandolin and it has all gone on from there. Creating an attractive and responsive stringed instrument is simply the most satisfying activity I know and there is great joy in hearing a talented musician create music on one of my instruments.
These days I concentrate on acoustic mandolins, but I am always happy to make another bouzouki or ukulele. There are various examples on these pages and a page with instruments which are currently available.
In 2021 I am hoping to build two matched mandolin quartets, each of two mandolins, a mandola and a mandocello. One will be of spruce and maple, the other of Australian King Billy pine and blackwood. The Quartet page has more information.
Over the years I have made guitars, both steel string and classical, solid body electric bouzoukis and mandolins as well as a number of sympathetic string violins, somewhat in the style of the Norwegian hardanger fiddle and even a baritone banjo bouzouki. I can often be tempted into making a hybrid one-off instrument. Feel free to call or email.