1/20/2012

c.1900 Puglisi Reale & Figli Italian-made Bowlback Mandolin





From what I recall, these Puglisi mandolins were regarded as pretty typical Italian export mandolins. This one fits that bill, though to be honest the tone is far better than any of the other general Italian mid-grade mandolins I've worked on -- instead of spidery and thin on the bass side this one is very full and rich throughout its range with great focus. It reminds me more of a Martin or Vega flatback as opposed to what I generally expect from Italian bowlbacks (very focused on the mid and high end to the detriment of the G course). This probably has to do with its slightly wider-than-normal body and very light build.

My work included a reglue of a crack on the neck (a hairline with the grain on the neck), some seam reglues towards the tailpiece, a fret dress, cleaning, new compensated bone bridge, replacement (1920s) tailpiece from my parts bin, tuner lube, and setup. While there's a little warp (maybe a hair under 1/32"?) to the neck on the treble side (and maybe 1/64"?) on the bass, it's still a comfortable player due to the shorter scale (13") and the extra-light strings.

I have it tuned down a step (FCGD) at the moment as well, since I only had 32w-9 strings on hand and I generally prefer 28w-9 for tuning fully to pitch on old Italian bowls since they're so fragile.


What's extra cool about this mandolin in particular is that the inlaid "butterfly" on this one is actually a moth! It has a pearl center and head and wings of black, etched celluloid? methinks and cream celluloid background. It's a very elegant and classy looking thing that suits the simplicity of the rest of the design.


Woods are -- spruce top, Brazilian rosewood bowl, and rosewood-veneered neck and headstock with a rosewood fretboard.



This has a zero fret, but as typical for old zero frets, this one was a little tall so I had to slot it like a nut anyway for proper action height. Bone nut is original, though. Tuners are 1920s/30s American replacements.


Big MOP dots in the board look cool. Note the fractured binding on this edge bit, too -- the binding has damage in a few spots but the top itself is stable.




Really gorgeous. Note also the maker's stamped-in mark on the top below the bridge.





The rosewood is nice on this as well. I had to glue up a few seams on this, though someone beat me to a few of them before I got it.





I didn't have a tailpiece cover for this one so I muted the strings from under their "extra length" instead.

No comments: