Mandolin Building

Join the instrument building craze and make your own mandolin with luthier Geoff Burghardt of iii Mandolins. Geoff is a natural born teacher and it shows as he teaches you all the steps needed to make a quality mandolin.

Buy Now $243.00 96 Lessons 13:34:03

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About This Course

Welcome to the Robert O’Brien Online Mandolin Building Course. In this course Robert invites Luthier and Instructor, Geoff Burghardt of iii Mandolins, to show how to build and finish an A style mandolin.

Geoff focuses on the use of hand tools throughout the video and not only explains, but shows in great detail every step in the mandolin building and finishing process. In the finishing chapter he shows how to apply a hand rubbed sunburst to the mandolin.

With just under 14 hours of high def video lessons divided into ten chapters, it has never been easier to build your own high end mandolin. The only thing Geoff doesn’t teach you is how to play the instrument! However, all the music in the video features Geoff playing the mandolin built in the course.

Chapters can be purchased separately or receive a 25% discount over the individual chapters price when purchasing the entire course. If you purchase the entire course you also get a free downloadable copy of Geoff’s professionally drawn mandolin plans specifically drawn for this course. You also become eligible to join Robert’s invitation only chat group. Here he offers advice and support as you build. There is a wealth of information available to you for free!

Please read the FAQ page before beginning. To begin just register/login and purchase the video lessons.

Happy Building!!

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I just wanted to say thank you for the mandolin course. I really enjoyed it! Tom
See what others are saying


I need to tell you how much I've enjoyed and benefited from your online course by Geoff Burghardt. I have been tinkering with fiddles and mandolins for a long time but this is my first complete build. The course not only explains everything in logical sequence but demystifies some of the actual operations that might be obvious to a more experienced woodworker. Thank you for making this available. Jack - North Carolina
I have completed my first (& 2nd) mandolin build. I purchased Robbie's Mandolin Building course featuring/starring Geoff Burghardt. I have built over 20 guitars (OM, Parlor & Resonator) as well as 1 banjo and a mountain dulcimer but never had tried an Archtop instrument. The instruction was complete and understandable and resulted in a great sounding instrument. Since it's still too cold here in Colorado to spray finish the build I went ahead and built another to solidify the process in my mind and am equally satisfied with the outcome! So I highly recommend the course if you have been considering building a mandolin and have not gotten around to it yet. It is quite a process to carve a top for sure! If nothing else it will add some more tools to your building skills! Mike B
The mandolin course is very easy to follow if anyone has contemplated building a mando. Mike
Great lessons in the class! I’ve built a few Instruments and the details that Geoff provides are very helpful to advancing my skills. Demetri
I purchased your Mandolin lessons and really like how they are presented. Demetri
I just wanted to say thank you for the mandolin course. I really enjoyed it! Tom
I have purchased your mandolin online course and love it. Lee
I used your mandolin course with Jeff to get me started. Man what a ride it’s been! I have built quite a few and several tenor ukuleles. Jason
Thanks to your online course I have built 3 acoustic guitars and I am excited to begin building a mando! Keep up the good work. Steve
My first Mandolin. This instrument was brought to me by a customer whose father had brought it with him when he emigrated to this country from Italy in 1911. It was in pretty rough shape and I was excited to take on the challenge of bringing it back to life. It was also my first attempt at a Sunburst finish and I’m pleased with the outcome. I would like to say a special thank you to Robbie O'Brien for his online course for Mandolin building I referred to it a lot, and to Jeff Jewitt and his online course for Sunburst finishes. Both course can be purchased on Robbie O’Brien’s Website they are easy to follow and excellently presented! Robbie Kilchenstein
Chapter 1 • The Sides
1:01:53 $24.50 Buy Chapter
Lesson 1: Thicknessing 11:40
Lesson 2: Making blocks 5:49
Lesson 3: Bending 13:35
Lesson 4: More Bending 7:38
Lesson 5: Gluing the blocks 7:01
Lesson 6: Kerfing 8:42
Lesson 7: More kerfing 2:28
Lesson 8: Leveling the kerfing 3:40
Summary 1:20
Chapter 2 • The Top
2:53:38 $48.50 Buy Chapter
Lesson 1: Joining 12:28
Lesson 2: Contour map 6:58
Lesson 3: Drilling the contour lines 8:33
Lesson 4: Rough Carving 13:21
Lesson 5: More Carving 16:12
Lesson 6: Planing 5:25
Lesson 7: Sanding 7:03
Lesson 8: Pitch pocket 2:14
Lesson 9: Checking the contour 4:13
Lesson 10: Drilling the Inside 3:15
Lesson 11: Carving the inside 19:44
Lesson 12: Final Shaping 15:24
Lesson 13: Tone Bars 16:41
Lesson 14: Fitting the top 6:40
Lesson 15: The F holes 10:08
Lesson 16: Shaping the tone bars 24:38
Summary 0:41
Chapter 3 • The Neck
1:09:40 $24.50 Buy Chapter
Lesson 1: Block prep 4:05
Lesson 2: Cutting out and truss rod 5:28
Lesson 3: Neck joint description 2:10
Lesson 4: Cutting the neck joint 8:50
Lesson 5: Neck profile 5:05
Lesson 6: Fitting truss rod 9:34
Lesson 7: Headstock 10:12
Lesson 8: Cutting out and thicknessing 6:52
Lesson 9: Attaching the neck 15:52
Summary 1:32
Chapter 4 • The Back
1:12:21 $35.50 Buy Chapter
Lesson 1: Joining and thicknessing 4:25
Lesson 2: Laying out contours 5:21
Lesson 3: Drilling 3:29
Lesson 4: Carving 16:00
Lesson 5: More carving 9:26
Lesson 6: Drilling and carving the inside 24:07
Lesson 7: Prepping rims for back 4:10
Lesson 8: Attaching the back 4:20
Summary 1:03
Chapter 5 • Binding
1:09:16 $29.50 Buy Chapter
Lesson 1: Flush trimming 7:35
Lesson 2: Binding discussion 5:43
Lesson 3: Cutting channels 10:55
Lesson 4: Handwork 12:01
Lesson 5: Installing bindings 29:45
Lesson 6: Scraping bindings 3:17
Chapter 6 • Fretboard
1:15:25 $24.00 Buy Chapter
Lesson 1: Layout 5:35
Lesson 2: Slotting 6:57
Lesson 3: Inlay and tapering 15:55
Lesson 4: Installing frets 9:48
Lesson 5: Filing and filling 5:44
Lesson 6: Fretboard extender 22:53
Lesson 7: Attaching the fretboard 7:32
Summary 1:01
Chapter 7 • Neck Carving
23:15 $12.50 Buy Chapter
Lesson 1: Rough shaping 14:31
Lesson 2: Final shaping 8:22
Summary 2:22
Chapter 8 • Initial Setup
1:45:32 $41.50 Buy Chapter
Lesson 1: Drilling tuner holes 9:06
Lesson 2: The nut 16:53
Lesson 3: The bridge 5:28
Lesson 4: The tailpiece 2:20
Lesson 5: Final fretwork 17:05
Lesson 6: Side markers 7:56
Lesson 7: Strings 7:36
Lesson 8: Action at the nut 18:01
Lesson 9: Action at the 12th fret 5:49
Lesson 10: Intonation 4:25
Lesson 11: First impressions 8:17
Summary 2:36
Chapter 9 • Finishing
1:40:39 $53.50 Buy Chapter
Lesson 1: Finishing discussion 5:30
Lesson 2: Removing hardware 2:41
Lesson 3: Shaping heel buttons 5:30
Lesson 4: Masking 10:27
Lesson 5: Adding color 5:02
Lesson 6: The sunburst 20:32
Lesson 7: More sunburst 19:53
Lesson 8: Clearcoats 5:54
Lesson 9: Scraping 3:07
Lesson 10: More clearcoats 8:15
Lesson 11: Rubbing out 13:48
Chapter 10 • Conclusion
1:02:24 $24.50 Buy Chapter
Lesson 1: Tape removal 7:39
Lesson 2: Inlay ideas 2:01
Lesson 3: Truss rod cover 2:34
Lesson 4: Installing hardware 6:51
Lesson 5: Intonation 13:52
Lesson 6: First impressions 5:49
Lesson 7: Final thoughts 2:03
Lesson 8: Homemade bridges 4:30
Lesson 9: homemade planes 5:21
Lesson 10: Ashokan Farewell 2:28
Lesson 11: Bloopers 9:16