A5 Mandolin Kit, A5 Mandolin Kit plus "How to Build a Carved-Top Mandolin", DVD

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A5 Mandolin Kit, A5 Mandolin Kit plus "How to Build a Carved-Top Mandolin", DVD

A5 Mandolin Kit, A5 Mandolin Kit plus "How to Build a Carved-Top Mandolin", DVD

Item # 5239
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List Price $604.50
Set Savings $483.60

A5 Mandolin Kit

A5 Mandolin Kit

Item # 5370
Due 1+ month
Notify Me

List Price $479.50
Set Savings $383.60

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A5 Mandolin Kit, A5 Mandolin Kit plus "How to Build a Carved-Top Mandolin", DVD

The fast, fun way to build your own A5 mandolin! Quicker and easier to build than a guitar, the critical first steps are done so you're off to a good start.

We create this kit right here in our own shop under the guidance of Don MacRostie, creator of the renowned "Red Diamond" mandolins. We use all top-quality woods and workmanship to make every kit a potential heirloom. There's no plywood in this kit: curly maple is used for the sides and back, with an arched European spruce top.

Learn to build from a pro!
The assembly steps are presented in our DVD How to Build a Carved-Top Mandolin, which we recommend to everyone considering building our A5 or F5 mandolin kits.
SAVE when you buy the kit and DVD together!

The most difficult work is already done.
The arched back and top are carved, and the sides are bent. The tail block and neck block are glued in place. The neck joint is dovetailed for correct alignment, and the neck is shaped and ready for sanding. Tuner holes are accurately drilled into the shaped peghead. The truss rod slot is cut to fit the truss rod provided. The fret slots have been cut into the fingerboard.

Everything's ready for hand-building, and very few tools are needed. (A Dremel tool is the only power tool you'll need to construct your mandolin.) The arched top and back are ready for sanding and assembly, or you can tap-tune the fine European spruce top until it's just right. Details are included for F-holes or oval soundhole construction.

Included in the kit:

  • Dovetailed curly maple neck
  • Peghead veneer
  • 29-slot ebony fingerboard
  • Assembled curly maple rim with dovetailed neck block
  • Carved European spruce top and curly maple back
  • Tone bars
  • Kerfed linings
The kit also includes bindings, truss rod, string nut, fretwire, dot inlays and endpin — all of the parts you need to get started!

This kit is a great way to learn the basics of instrument making.

Your finished mandolin will be an A5 style: it has the full-length, cantilevered fingerboard like an F5, but with the classic teardrop shape. Even if this is your first try at building a mandolin, you'll be proud of your results. Depending on your skill and the care you take in assembly, this can be a professional-quality mandolin. You decide which tuners and hardware are right for it.

When you've finished building the kit, choose the tuner, bridge and tailpiece that's right for your instrument. (Sold separately.)

Easy finishing options
ColorTone Aerosol Guitar Lacquer is an economical way for the beginner to apply a finish without elaborate setup or equipment. Only a few cans are needed to completely finish your mandolin. Or try brush-on application with ColorTone Brushing Varnish.

View the kit instructions and recommended tool list here.

Also available: F5 Mandolin Kits

Will these videos play on your equipment?
DVD: These DVDs are not "region-specific," and are intended for worldwide use.

Product Instructions

Mandolin Kit

Assembly instructions for the Mandolin Kits, including a recommended tool and supplies list.

Customer Reviews

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  • 3.67 average rating from 3 reviews
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Mandolin #1

(Customer's Reviews)

Let me begin with the great things about this kit. First, the sound of the completed instrument is on par with a Collings or Weber, seriously, it can be that good! Next, the help from Stewart-MacDonald was/is superb! Now, on to the challenges I had...

1.) The centerline of the tail block and neck block was way off. I actually should have sent the kit back, but I had the top and back recurve in place and once cut you can't reestablish a new centerline. It was off about 3/16" and forced me to actually recut the dovetail - which was a pain!
2.) The dovetail recut was actually more difficult than If I'd started from scratch - live and learn.
3.) The neck had two problems, 1st, it was pretty badly warped from the headstock to the neck joint with a hump in the middle. I had to sand so much off to reestablish a flat plane that I had only .015 left of material over the truss rod connector in the neck... close call, indeed. If I had had to sand into the truss rod connector the neck would have been scrap, which would have been upsetting with all the work I had to do to recut the dovetail joint. Secondly, and this was a real challenge, the headstock was off 3 degrees counter clockwise with respect to the plain of the fret board. I had to sand 3 degrees off the top and bottom of the headstock to establish the same plain as the fret board. This created a problem with the tuner holes, as they were now skewed 3 degrees off of the reestablished waterline.

And, there was a problem with the fret board extension, a known condition where it was too short (side to side) to fit as shown in the instructions. I'm a bit shocked that Stewart-MacDonald didn't have a fix for this - or replace the part. You'll see a rosewood strip in my pictures at the 15th fret. That's what I had to do to extend the piece and make it work correctly.

Also, the bias of the top and back sections were about 45 degrees off axis for the "flame" to show upon finishing - meaning that the "flame" is not seen when looking directly at the back, and the "bearclaw" is not seen on top for the same reason... too bad, their appearance would have been wonderful had the bias been correct.

All in all, it took as much time to correct the problems in the kit as it did to build it.

This was my first attempt at a French polish, it worked well, is easy to repair (if necessary) and has an "antique" look to it.

Now, a couple things you should know if you intend to build this kit. First, you'll need to spend some money on good tools, you will not be able to build this mandolin without them - I spent about $300 (on tools) for the project. Secondly, the tuner holes really should be cut to 5/16" (the nominal size of the tuner bushings at the smallest diameter of the taper) THEN reamed to the final dimension - you MUST hold the centerline dimensions within .002 or the tuners will bind. The tapered headstock is also a concern, you'll have trouble dealing with the fact that the tuner bushings are installed from the top, and the tuners are installed from the bottom on non-parallel surfaces. Also, sanding the surface of the neck extension is a pain, you'll need a router to cut a truly flat surface.

The DVD is good, but you will run into exceptions not covered, the tuner installation on the DVD doesn't reflect non-parallel surfaces and just how close you must be to accurately install the tuners.

Would I get a second mandolin kit? Yes. BUT, I'd immediately check for the concerns I had with my first kit. If Stewart-MacDonald corrects the issues the finished product would be superb!

So, I gave it 2 stars because of all of the challenges I had to overcome to complete the kit.


Good kit

(Customer's Reviews)

I had fun building this kit. I enjoyed carving the top and back. The maple for the neck, back and sides was fantastic. The top is a nice selection as well. I did not like the ebony fingerboard. I used a Macassar ebony board and titanium bronze frets. The binding was three inches short for the front and back. With a replacement piece I was able to complete the binding. The finished instrument plays very well and has a lot of volume.


Overall a succesful project!!

(Customer's Reviews)

When I first ordered the kit we had some items that were incorrect but thanks to your customer service and quick response they were taken care of in a timely manner. With the help of some of your online videos and guidance from Lynn Dudenbostel, I completed this kit and I think for the first time builder the project was a success. The wood choices are excellent and made for a great finish.

Shown on page 96 of our latest catalog.