6/10/2011

c.1915 Giuseppe Quaglia Pocket Mandolin


This is a customer's very peculiar, tiny-bodied bowlback mandolin (sometimes called pocket mandolins, sometimes erroneously called piccolo mandolins), with full (for a bowlback) 13" scale. It's very narrow and has only about a 2" depth but is extremely portable and tucks under the arm like a ukulele for playing upright. Tone is what you'd expect -- decent on the treble and mids with a dry and limited bass. Sustain is decent, too, and volume is much more than expected!

The label in the soundhole (I forgot to take a photo) is blue and reads Giuseppe Quaglia, and in Italian, "since 1890" and reads as built in Naples, Italy... though... I really think Quaglia was more of a distributor/reseller as his name is on plenty of instruments of varying types (banjo mandolins, guitars, accordions, etc.).

Judging on construction, hardware, and style... I'd date this to early 1900s, probably between 1910 and 1915 or so.

After the work I did on it, it plays nicely and has a unique tonality. I like it quite a bit... super great to practice on as it tucks anywhere.


Bone-buttoned tuners, typical Italian-style headstock with volute/two-piece construction visible on rear. This has a bone nut and zero fret, though the zero fret needed slotting to get proper action.


I dressed the frets and cleaned up the mandolin quite a bit.


In addition, the whole treble side side/top kerfing seam had come unglued so I reglued that all up.

Note the strange discoloration near the bridge. Looks like a knot with some finish loss? Or some sort of weird repair? Or perhaps someone dropped a bit of some sort of chemical on it? I'm confused, obviously, but it poses no threat to the instrument.


Nice "rope" binding all over and inlaid pickguard.


Original bridge had to be cut down a bit, but still retains its bone saddle and rosewood foot. It's missing the treble side diamond-shaped "wing."


Nice, tiny little take-along fellow!




It's a cute shape!


I had to install 4 more vintage-style screws to fill out the tuner-plate assortment. Tuners function OK but hold tune just fine.


Good strong heel join.




The bowl looks like maple to me.


Nice old Italian-style tailpiece where you double-up the posts/hooks. Originally the tailpiece was mounted with three tiny finishing nails. I've replaced those with three tiny old screws for better hold.

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