JK Mandolins 2009 copyright notice

© Updated September 2013 - John Kelly - JK Mandolins ©

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JK Mandolins,mahogany back and sides, spruce soundboard

In 2003 I retired from my full-time career as an English teacher in Dunoon Grammar School here in the lovely county of Argyll. I wanted to pursue an interest far removed from my career, and settled on learning how to construct acoustic stringed instruments as I had a long involvement in playing music as a hobby, and particularly folk and Scottish music.  

I attended on a part-time basis the excellent Stringed Instruments Course run at Anniesland College in Glasgow.  Here I was fortunate enough to be tutored by three superb instrument builders, Paul Hyland, Bill Kelday and Michael Ritchie, and I have maintained contact with those three and they continue to offer their invaluable support.  My thanks to you all, gents.

While at  Anniesland I designed and built a travel guitar and this instrument gained the Best Musical Instrument Award and Gold Medal for Best in Show at the 2005 Craftex Exhibition run annually by the Trades House of Glasgow and open to all students on craft and creative courses in Glasgow FE Colleges.  

Since then I have continued trying to develop my skills and have concentrated mainly on building flat-backed mandolins.  The fascination in building the instruments is in trying to achieve that blend of playability, looks and sound that defines a really great instrument.  Each instrument I construct adds something to my fund of knowledge and the quest goes on.  I have also made octave and bouzouki models, another travel guitar and a tenor guitar - each as a means of exploring new sounds and trying new ways of achieving a satisfactory sound from different instruments.

Although I have no desire to build full-time or commercially I have been very encouraged by the fact that fellow players who have seen and heard the instruments have liked them enough to want to play them  and even acquire them.  Click here to go to the Instruments page, or just click on the “Instruments” button bars on any page.

I am keen to make contact with other builders and players to share ideas and discuss instrument building and playing, so please feel free to e-mail me at: luthier.john@gmail.com


Soundcloud:  In March 2010, I signed up to the website SoundCloud which hosts music from its members.  I add to this regularly and all the tunes I upload are available for you to download should you wish.  The original idea was to highlight my instruments, but this has developed into my recording and posting of tunes I like, especially Scottish and Irish material.