The Story

I’ve been intrigued by stringed instruments ever since I was a child. Being of Greek heritage, I was exposed to the bouzouki at an early age. The bouzouki was introduced in Greece in the early 1900’s with design elements borrowed from the classic Neapolitan mandolins.

So, perhaps that’s the reason I’ve always been drawn to every kind of stringed instrument? But, I’m especially enamored with those with double courses.

I also love applying new technologies to create something unique. Carbon fiber is not really a new technology. According to Wikipedia, Joseph Swan produced carbon fibers for the first time in 1860 for use in light bulbs. And in 1958, Roger Bacon created high-performance carbon fibers at the Union Carbide Parma Technical Center located outside of my hometown, Cleveland, Ohio. However, using carbon fiber for making musical instruments is a relatively new phenomenon.

Ovation Guitars started using carbon fiber back in 1965. And today, there are a handful of companies that produce beautiful and great sounding guitars and violins made with carbon fiber including Composite Acoustic, Rain Song Guitars/, and violins from Mezzo Forte, and Lewis & Clark. And, there are a handful of companies that make terrific carbon fiber violin bows, including Coda Bows and Arcus.

In late 2017, I was surfing the Internet looking to buy a carbon fiber mandolin. I found a few individuals who were making carbon fiber mandolins, but those instruments were not readily available for purchase.

The more time I spent searching and not finding what I was looking for, I started considering that there may be a market for a carbon fiber mandolin. The more time I spent thinking about it, the more my idea came into focus.

I embarked on finding the right partners to bring my vision to reality. I discovered Wolf Composites, a carbon fiber manufacturer based in Columbus, Ohio. They had recently made a carbon fiber violin for another customer. Nick Buckner and Nate Biroschak from Wolf enthusiastically offered to help me achieve my vision. I then asked my friend and master guitar/stringed instrument tech, Kurt Wright to assist in the design of my mandolin. I was on my way!

After months of design work, a handful of 3D printed versions, a couple of prototypes and feedback from some great musicians, it was finally time to build our first mandolins.

I’m proud to introduce the Z MANDOLIN to the world. Only 50 of these mandolins will be built and available for purchase. You can rest assured that your investment in a Z MANDOLIN will be a wise one.

Lee Zapis