Griffin Mandolin Works

Bill Griffin ~ Luthier

Elk Grove, California

~ About the Instruments ~

Griffin Mandolins (Mandolele) are a new breed of mandolin. They are the same size, the same tuning, the same fretboard profile and, most importantly, the same feel as a modern “F” or “A” style mandolin.

That being said, they differ in one very important respect: THE SOUND! Single nylon strings give these mandolins a tone that suggests ʻukulele while still having a sound all their own. They offer the mandolinist an opportunity to play with a whole new voice. Where that voice will take you is limited only by your imagination and creativity. Jazz. Classical. Folk. Country. Weʻre just getting started.


Originally conceived in the early 1980s by mandolinist and luthier Bill Griffin as a way for the mandolin to fit more naturally into Hawaiian music, the possibilities have become endless.


Some facts:

  * Tuning is in 5ths, GDAE, at full pitch

  * String length, nut to saddle, is 13.875 inches

  * Neck width at the nut is 1.125 inches

  * Neck shape is basically that of a F-5

  * Top is X braced

  * Bridge and fretboard of Ebony

  * Neck of Honduran Mahogany

  * Fits in a F-5 case

MiSi under-saddle active pickups upon request

About the strings:

The gauges vary between .025" and .032". They are tight, sound very fat, and feel completely familiar under the pick. A year of experimenting went into arriving at a set that would feel right, sound right and not break.

These string sets are always available through this website and are intended for use exclusively on Griffin Mandolins.


 ~ Instrument Gallery ~


~ From the Builder ~

My father taught me to play ʻukulele at the age of five. By eleven I had moved on to guitar and with money from my paper route earned my first Martin, a 1963 O-16NY. Just before my eighteenth birthday I went to work as a guitar tech for C. Bruno & Sons – the worldʻs largest musical instrument wholesale house at that time. My boss at Bruno was David Simpson, a master luthier and the guy who gave me what to this day is my personal mantra: If you can see it in your head, you can build it. And thatʻs the way itʻs been ever since.


Iʻve been blessed with a 45 year career playing the mandolin, from progressive Bluegrass to electric Western Swing. What is relevant here is that I fell in love with Hawaiian music in the late Seventies. It brought me back to my early years learning ʻukulele from my dad, but also started me on a quest to develop a mandolin with a sound that would fit naturally into the music of Hawaiʻi.


My mandolins are the result of that quest. Happily, they are now helping musicians create all kinds of music far beyond the shores of Hawaiʻi. Please feel free to get in touch with me regarding questions or comments and Iʻll get right back to you. Thanks!


My gallery...

Griffin Mandolin Works

~ Get in Touch ~

Got questions? 
Please send an email
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