I love the double course instruments of the folk music traditions. I have experimented with making mandolas with different types of bridges to see how it would affect the sound. I feel that the regular floating bridge alternative gives some bonuses in volume and a strong mid to punch through an ensemble, whereas the glued bridge gives a more pleasant ”musical” tone, rich in overtones, but on the cost of volume.
I have build with different scale lengths and used multiple scales on fanfretted instruments to mix the mandola and the mandolin range. I have also experimented into open tunings similar to that of the cittern. This limits you a bit to a certain key, but then again gives some possibilities of having drones playing all the time and results in a very folky sound. I'm currently working on a nordic mandola aka a låtmandola, which origins in Sweden in the 80's from luthiers Christer Ådin and Helge Ekvall, and musician Ale Möller. This features a very cool single string capo system called pin point capos and theorbed bass strings as well as some quarter note frets.
There are as well pictures here of a charango and a tiple i built. I find the small South American instruments and their percussive character very appealing, and would love to build more of these.