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Don Rickert Musician Shop

Luthier-Built 1920s Stromberg-Voisinet “Venetian” Style Octave Mandolin by D. Rickert

Posted by Don Rickert on

Introduction  SV Octave Mandolin 1

The new 1920s Stromberg-Voisinet “Venetian” Style Octave Mandolin by D. Rickert is available now at the Don Rickert Musician Shop (D. Rickert Musical Instruments)

The 1920s Stromberg-Voisinet “Venetian” Style Octave Mandolin by D. Rickert is an octave mandolin with the same scale length as a typical commercial “Irish” octave mandolin; however it has a considerably larger body. The body design inspired by the Stromberg-Voisinet fretted instruments of the 1920s, particularly the tenor guitars.

This is a made-to-order professional performance level instrument, with a price tag to match. The instrument can be fitted with a pickup system to meet the needs of the buyer’s live performance needs.

The potential buyer should follow the links below.


What is an Octave Mandolin?

The octave mandolin is a fretted string instrument with four pairs of strings tuned in unison fifths, G, D, A, E (low to high), an octave below a mandolin. It has a 20 to 23-inch scale length and its construction has generally been, until recently, is similar to other instruments in the mandolin family, particularly those of the flat-top type rather than the carved arch-top (e.g. Gibson “A” or “F” types) type.

Octave mandolins did not exist in the early 20th Century, which was the heyday of amateur mandolin orchestras. The primary use of the modern octave mandolin has been in Celtic music, particularly Irish Traditional Music, the genre from which the octave mandolin was born in the late 1960s.

Octave mandolins have also found their way into progressive folk music throughout continental Europe, particularly in Scandinavian and Eastern European bands. The Octave mandolin is also enjoying ever-increasing popularity among Bluegrass mandolin players.

The octave mandolin and its larger cousin, the modern mandocello, have generally been used as chord/basso continuo accompaniment instruments. The tenor banjo and, occasionally the tenor guitar, have tended to be the instruments on which baritone melody and counter-melody have been played. That being said, the best players, using the most state-of-the-art acoustically powerful octave mandolins, often play a combination of chords and octave melody.

  Comparison Octave vs. Mandocello

The 1920s Stromberg-Voisinet “Venetian” Style Octave Mandolin by D. Rickert

Our luthier-built (made one-at-a-time rather than factory made) Octave Mandolin, despite its whimsical 1920s retro design, is a state-of-the-art instrument with the necessary acoustic power to serve as a solo melody instrument. Of course, it can play chord accompaniment as well.

For starters, our 1920s Stromberg-Voisinet “Venetian” Style Octave Mandolin, while having the standard octave mandolin 23” playable scale, has a tenor guitar sized body with an average depth of 89mm (about 3.5”). It is, quite simply, larger than the “traditional” Irish octave mandolin. Further, because our instrument is hand made by expert luthiers, the bracing is tuned (typically “scalloped”) for optimal vibration characteristics of the instrument top and back.

Who is this instrument for?

This octave mandolin is for professional performing artist or seriously dedicated musicians seeking a professional level instrument with far greater acoustic power (volume) than the typical commercial Irish octave mandolin.

The instrument is strung for an octave unison tuning of G-D-A-E). The player will have an octave mandolin that can compete sonically with a tenor banjo in the contemporary (a la Barney McKenna) G-D-A-E tuning.


The materials used in the construction of this instrument are the very best tone woods and can be shipped anywhere without restriction (i.e. they are not endangered!)

U.S. and Non-U.S. Markets

  • body shape: Shape inspired by 1920s Stromberg-Voisinet tenor guitar
  • bracing: X Bracing
  • top: Solid Sitka Spruce top
  • back & sides: Red Mountain Cedar (Peru)
  • neck: Sepele Mahogany (Africa)
  • Fingerboard: Katalox (Southern Mexico and Central America)
  • Bridge:
    • Pure acoustic option
      • Custom maple moveable bridge
      • Saddle: TUSQ (synthetic ivory)
    • Pickup option
      • Bridge will differ from acoustic bridge, depending on pickup option we design for your application
  • body binding: Black or crème colored ABS or natural wood
  • top purfling: Natural wood alternating white and black squares with black edging
  • fingerboard inlay: Pearloid dot inlay
  • tuning machines: Gotoh
  • Nut: Micarta (synthetic bone)
  • number of frets: 20
  • Saddle: TUSQ (synthetic ivory)
  • strings: Loop end phosphor bronze octave mandolin strings
  • finish top: polished satin hand-rubbed oil varnish
  • finish back and sides: polished satin hand-rubbed oil varnish
  • finish neck back: Satin oil varnish
  • Scale: 584mm (23”)
  • Width at Nut: 35mm (1.38”)
  • Thickness at 1st: 20mm
  • Thickness at 7th: 21mm
  • Radius: 250mmR

Body Dimensions (SV Octave Mandolin)

  • Length: 18"
  • Width: 14.4"
  • Max Depth: 3.5" (89mm)


For professional live performance, a pickup is recommended. The type of pickup depends greatly on your needs.

If you simply wish to amplify the instrument, the preferred options are:

  • Shadow Flat Top Mandolin Bridge W/ Pickup (about $150) 
  • Fishman Nashville Series Flat Top Mandolin Rosewood Bridge Pickup (about $250)

If you will be using ANY type of effect box (“stomp box”), a custom designed bridge with a separate transducer for each string will be necessary. If you indicate that you wish to discuss performance rig design, we will discuss all of this with you.

Optional Payment Terms:

Due to the expense of this instrument and the long wait time (up to 120 days), the following payment terms are available:

  • 50% up front
  • 50% upon shipping

Please call or email us if you wish to discuss this option.

(706) 896-0909 (direct)

  • D. Rickert Musical Instruments
  • Don Rickert Musician Shop
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