5/11/2011

c.1915 Leland Piccolo Mandolin


This is the coolest mando since... sliced mando...! This pint size wonder has a 10 1/4" scale length (vs. regular 13" to 14" scales) and is tuned a up from regular mando tuning (GDAE, same range as a fiddle) to CGDA. This gives it a music-box high-range voice with a sparkly, sweet, loud tone. As far as I know, these mandos were the only true piccolos built "back in the day" (1920s). They were sold by Lyon & Healy through their catalog as part of a Gibson-esque set of mando-family instruments for "orchestra use." Hence this one's small size and high pitch... it plays the "piccolo" part in the ensemble.

No expense was spared on these high-flight orchestra models (which some say were built by the Larson brothers and others say by Vega and a few minorities say Regal -- I'm convinced they're either Vega or Larson). All of the ones I've seen sport Brazilian rosewood back and sides, solid spruce (canted) tops, mahogany necks, and ebony fretboards and bridges. For comparison to the fellow in this post, check out this other Leland regular-sized mandolin I posted earlier.


Rosewood headstock veneer, original bone nut. Tuners have ivoroid buttons.


MOP dots in ebony board, bar frets. Freshly dressed.

Oh, and work on this included: regluing mid-brace, installation of a very light 2nd mid brace just below the cant (to help stabilize a slumped top), fret dress, cleaning, setup. This mando is crack free and, aside from about 5 lbs of grunge taken off of it, in darling condition! I had to install about 3/32" worth of "foot" to the bottom of the ebony bridge to adjust for the sunken top, but this mod turned out fine and doesn't sap tone.


Tailpiece cover is the only unoriginal part -- this is a nice floral one I pulled from a very DOA Stella/Oscar Schmidt flatback mandolin, c.1925.


Inlaid faux-tortoise pickguard. Check out the pretty marquetry purfling and rosette.



Thar rosewood is to die for!



...and it has a one-piece Braz rosewood back!





Bound both on top and back.



Nice enclosed tuners. It's kept them in fine order despite the wear and tear to the rest of the instrument.

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