In Minnesota, Bruce Bernhart has been a mandolin player/enthusiast since the 1980's
The Bernhart Mandolin Webpages explore the history of the mandolin, buying and building mandolins, basic chord structures, the different styles of playing, practice exercises, the various makes and models of mandolins available on the market, and the "best of the web" on mandolin topics.
As early as the 14th century a miniature Lute or Mandora appeared. Similar to the mandola, it had counterparts in Arab countries (Dambura) and Assyria (Pandura). From this, the Mandolino (a small gut strung Mandola with 6 strings tuned g b e' a' d'' g'' sometimes called the Baroque Mandolin and played with a quill, wooden plectrum or finger-style) was developed in several places in Italy but seems to have became known as the Mandolin in early 18th century (around 1735) Naples. The 'modern' often termed Neapolitan mandolin (bowl-back, "tater bug", 4 course paired metal strings) appeared about 100 years later in around 1830.
The style was adopted and developed by others, notably in Rome giving two distinct but similar types of mandolin - Neapolitan and Roman. many of the best players chose the Roman made mandolins. The development of the Mandolino in Rome seems to have followed a slightly different course from that in Naples with many innovations of the Mandolina and later the Mandolin.
Classic 'modern' mandolins were made by the Vinaccia family (mid-1700s onwards) in direct continuance from their mandolinos, and by Calace (1863 - onwards) in Naples and Luigi Embergher (1856 - 1943), the Ferrari family (1716 - onwards also originally mandolino makers) and De Santi (1834 - 1916) in Rome. It is widely accepted that the evolution of the mandolin to the modern style is attributed to the Vinaccia family.
Mandolins became very popular and many lower grades were produced so that tourists (on the Grand Tour) could take home a mandolin. Often these were only fit to hang on walls as souvenirs and were brought back in their thousands. Some are playable but none match the workmanship and playability of the great makers.
Be sure to visit the other Bruce Bernhart Mandolin Websites:
Also, check out the Bruce Bernhart RV Websites and Blogs: