The New Mandolin Family Part 2: Octave Mandolins, Citterns and Irish Bouzoukis (Updated 4-2022)
Results of Recent Survey: Big Mandolin/Irish Bouzouki Attribute Preferences (Updated 4-2022)

New Violoncello da Spalla in Progress, Big Mandolins, and Other Cool Projects at D. Rickert Musical Instruments

Violoncello da Spalla No 17 by Don Rickert (front)

Call Us: 1-706-896-0909     

Email: [email protected]

First things first: I have a new Violoncello da Spalla under construction.

The violoncello da spalla in many ways is the bowed equivalent of a 5-course mandocello or citttern, with the extra 5th course being on the low (i.e., low C) end rather than the high (e.g., high E or A). We continue to make these as well as our new Big Mandolin family instruments.

Here are some photos of the instrument in its current state. Click on any of the photos for a larger view.

Back 1-2022 Top in carving cradle 1-2022
Top in carving cradle 1-2022 Top in carving cradle 1-2022 Top in carving cradle 1-2022

When it is paired with a lucky future owner, I will finish it. It will take about a month. In the meantime, we have several really exciting projects going on, which I will briefly describe below. Once the new Violoncello da Spalla is spoken for, finishing it will resume its place as a top priority.

If you follow me, you already know that the pricing for my violoncellos da spalla, including a discount for payment up front. If you don’t know and you are curious about pricing, specs, etc., visit Don Rickert Musician Shop on the web. If you are currently weighing your options for a new instrument, this is an opportunity to avoiding being stuck in a long backlog.

If you want to learn or refresh your memory of the beauty, workmanship and sound of my violoncellos da spalla, visit the following links on our main website for D. Rickert Musical Instruments.

Demonstrations and Photo Galleries

Demonstrations of Violoncellos da Spalla by Don Rickert

Gallery: Violoncellos da Spalla by Don Rickert

If you wish to learn more or buy this very cool instrument, our direct phone number in the U.S. is 1-706-896-0909. Our email is [email protected]. You can also learn more or buy now at:

NEW Violoncello da Spalla Conservatory Model by D. Rickert 

or learn more about our top-of-the-line Standard Model, see:

NEW Violoncello da Spalla by D. Rickert ($8,400 - $9,600)

We look forward to hearing from you.

Online Store Cleanup and Reorganization

Our online store, Don Rickert Musician Shop had not been updated in quite a while. At the end of 2021 and beginning of this year, refreshing the online store to reflect what we are currently focused on emerged as a top priority. That project is more or less completed. Basically, we got rid of most product listings related to resale of someone else’s instruments, bows, accessories, etc.; the main exception being particularly interesting vintage instruments. Moving forward, we will generally sell only what is made in our workshops in Hiawassee, Georgia, USA.

“Big Mandolins” and Related Instruments

When I say “Big Mandolins” I am referring generally to octave mandolins, mandocellos and what are commonly referred to these days as “Irish bouzoukis”. As a long-time enthusiast, and occasional player of these tenor and baritone range instruments, I have been iterating designs for at least 5 years.

With the current instability of the luthier-built bowed string instruments market, the time seems right to start thinking about expanding horizons; that is, if one wants to continue to make a living as a luthier.  

After some market assessment, I mean actual formal market research, including, surveys, depth interviews, conjoint analysis (i.e., features and pricing analysis), etc., I have concluded that there is a very healthy market for luthier-built octave mandolins, citterns and Irish bouzoukis. Another post will get into the details about our upcoming mandolin enterprise. For now, I can tell you that, in addition to our violoncellos da spalla, we will be introducing three models of mandolin family instruments, specifically:

  • An Irish bouzouki, which will sell in the $2,500 to $3,500 range
  • An archtop octave mandolin (4 courses)/cittern (5 courses), which will sell initially in the $7,500 to $9,500 range
  • A high-end archtop instrument, available as an octave mandolin or Irish bouzouki (4 courses) or cittern (5 courses), set to sell initially in the $10,000+ range.

Stay tuned for more on all of this!


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