Care and Feeding

Your Phoenix mandolin is a hand-crafted, precision instrument, made with the finest materials and with the greatest of care. With reasonable care on your part, it should last a lifetime with nothing more than replacement of worn frets.

If structural or construction defect is found and the original owner has registered the mandolin, the builder will repair it at the Phoenix shop. But, the maintenance of the instrument is the owner’s responsibility. Please read the following maintenance instructions.

Set Up

If the mandolin was shipped by Phoenix to you, you will find the strings loosened.

As you bring the strings up to pitch, they will pull the bridge forward, towards the fingerboard.

Place the mandolin in your lap, neck away from you. Put your thumbs on the bridge base, on the tailpiece side and your forefingers on the saddle on the neck side. Using your thumbs to keep the bridge base from moving, pull the top of the bridge back towards you, pivoting the bridge back to perpendicular with top when viewed from the side.

Remember to do this when you change strings or do any major tuning. Look to see the bridge is evenly seated on the mandolin top, no gap and the front or back edge of the bridge.

In General

The instrument in general needs the kind of care that all wooden musical instruments need: avoidance of extremes of temperature or humidity or rapid changes of temperature or humidity. Rapid changes can cause cracking and other damage. The instrument is built with well-dried wood, but if the humidity of your area averages less than 40% or if you travel extensively with the instrument, you will want to purchase a violin humidifier or a case humidifier.

Shock is also a problem for an acoustical stringed instrument even in this kind of custom-fitted case; handle carefully. For best protection, keep the mandolin in the case when not being played. Keep the case latched, it is easy to forget that it is unlatched and pick up the case. For lengthy storage or rough travel, loosen the strings several turns.

The finish is the finest waterborne hybrid varnish. It is very durable but should be protected with a high quality silicon-free guitar polish or natural wax, especially the neck. Also, the permanent softening agents in some rubbers, vinyl, plastics, hand lotions, and especially bug sprays with DEET can damage this kind of finish, so keep these things away from the instrument. If there is a small scratch or mark, it is better left alone since this is a thin finish on the resonant surfaces; some marks may sometimes be rubbed out with a very fine polishing compound (not a rubbing compound–that’s too coarse), but there is a danger of rubbing entirely through the finish. Dust the mandolin regularly with a soft old-time shaving brush and polish it with a soft cotton rag.

The tuning machines should be trouble-free. The screw on the gears and the screw holding the buttons on may sometimes need tightening if the tension seems too loose, do so very carefully with an exact-fitting screwdriver–a #1 Phillips–and do not over-tighten the button screw as that will make tuning difficult.

There is no truss rod to adjust; a graphite bar from the headstock to the 20th fret stabilizes the neck and fingerboard. If it is necessary to remove all the strings, be certain to carefully mark the placement of the bridge with masking tape. Otherwise, if the bridge is moved, it may require a precision tuning device (or a great ear) to return it to its correct place. The bridge is individually fitted to each top so the arrow on the bottom of the bridge must point toward the fingerboard.

If the mandolin is damaged, immediately remove the tension from the strings and call, write or e-mail for instructions for repair.

A solid ebony finger-rest can be retrofitted for $100. plus shipping. E-mail or write for information.

Strings

Strings, as delivered, are: Ultra and Deluxe 1st-.011″; 2nd-.015″; 3rd-.024″; 4th-.038″; Select, Bluegrass and Master Model Bluegrass 1st-.011″; 2nd-.015″; 3rd-.026″; 4th-.040″.  Neoclassicals are delivered with Dr. Thomastik mediums (mittel). The Jazz model is delivered with Thomastik heavies (stark).

Except on the Neoclassicals and Jazz, string sizes may be slightly increased by .001″ or .002″ for more “punch.”

Lighter strings than those provided are, of course, no problem, but may need the bridge height raised to avoid buzzes. There is no truss rod to adjust; a graphite bar from the headstock to the 20th fret stabilizes the neck and fingerboard.

One of the simplest things you can do to prolong the life of your instrument. As strings age at tension they become case hardened; they become less like rubber bands and more like steel rods. When the wood moves it becomes less of a conversation between the strings and the wood. Every 8 to 12 weeks is a good schedule for bronze wound strings, depending on how much you play. Thomastik Infield do last longer, twice a year is good.

If it is necessary to remove all the strings, be certain to carefully mark the placement of the bridge with masking tape. Otherwise, if the bridge is moved, it may require a precision tuning device (or a great ear) to return it to its correct place. The bridge is individually fitted to each top so the arrow on the bottom of the bridge must point toward the fingerboard.