12/16/2011

c.1916 Weymann Style 20 "Mandolute" Mandolin


Ah, here's a rare thing: a mid-teens (serial dates it to just about 1916) style 20 (that's the model number) Weymann (made in Philadelphia, PA) "mandolute" (that's their clever branding) mandolin. It's a wonderful-sounding instrument and was in really good shape when I got it. Unlike a lot of these that have been abused, this one has only two mid-size hairline cracks on the back and none on the top or sides. It's also all original save for the bridge, which is a replacement I made for it.

Followers of the blog will know I'm crazy for Weymann instruments: they're just so well built and always sound fantastic. This is no exception -- after a fret dress, cleaning, setup, etc. it plays great and sounds even better. The tone is big and nicely loud with a very sort of Vega bowlback tone -- very defined, precise, and pretty with balance throughout the spectrum. It's basically impossible to overdrive it into an ugly sound by playing hard, though it has

In many ways this is built very much the same as modern "Celtic" style mandolins... the top is a flat one that's been domed/arched over braces, as well as the back. The body is deeper and wider than a typical mandolin from the times and in an interesting fashion tapers at the tailpiece and neck block. All of these design features add up to that balanced and precise tone I was talking about.


The top is high quality spruce -- obviously played in a bit -- and features an inlaid celluloid tortoise pickguard as well as rope binding, green/maple purfling and an attractive inlaid rosette.


Rosewood headstock veneer, original bone nut, looks like a dyed maple (or pearwood like on Langes?) fretboard with smallish vintage-style frets.


MOP dots. Note that the fretboard extension is raised from the board just like on Gibsons from the time. This violin-style trait gives much better access to higher frets than ordinary designs and, for me, really gives this a professional feel.


I'm so happy the green has remained nice and bright on that ring.


This is the compensated ebony bridge I made up for this instrument. It's similar to the originals but thinner for better transfer of energy. I also slightly taper the width from the bass to the treble side of it in the hopes of making better frequency response.


P.W. Cowley got this tailpiece engraved, probably upon purchase, and more than likely so it wouldn't be lost among other instruments in a mandolin orchestra!


The rope binding and stepped out "fiddle edges" are soooo beautiful. The finish is also in great shape, despite having playwear throughout. Fit and finish on Weymanns was really nice and it holds up really well.



Just a purty thing!



Here you can see those inset tuners.




Check out the flamed maple on those sides!



Enclosed tuners like these always hold up much better than the usual open geared ones from the time and very rarely need any adjustment.


The flamed maple back is sublime.



Do you see how the body gets deeper in the middle and narrower at the ends?


Tailpiece.





Cool green label in the soundhole. Also note that Weymann often stained the inside of their instruments to match the outside! Classy!

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