3/15/2012

c.1925 Regal-made Burdwise Flatback Mandolin





This is a mandolin model that shows up often on the net and at flea markets and whatnot and must have sold in large numbers during the 20s and early 30s. It was probably made by Regal or Harmony in Chicago and I've seen dozens of different brand names slapped on these.

Construction is all solid birch with a canted-top (bowlback style) design and flat back. The sides are deeper than many flatbacks which gives this a warm, punchy and woody sort of tone -- very mellow but still nicely loud. The binding around the soundhole and on the top and back is actually real celluloid, unlike later "budget" models with painted-on binding.

After work --which here included much hairline crack repair/filling and some cleating as well as a fret level/dress, cleaning, and setup -- this has turned out to be a real nice player as well. It'd make a perfect student or take-anywhere old-timey/Celtic instrument.


I love the way the cream binding has aged to a yellow. Works nicely with the age-darkened medium-brown ("mahogany" colored) top.


Wood nut, brass frets. Fretboard is dyed pearwood.


Looks like clay dots?


Despite being so plain there's some elegance to this mandolin.



Mystery hardwood bridge.


Here's that Burdwise label.



Note the friction-set brass gears/tuners. I've had to replace a couple that had deteriorated. Fortunately, after a lube, the rest all worked just fine.


There are a number of small repaired hairline cracks on the back. I see this on mandolins that have dried up over time. These hairlines are barely open and most don't go through the wood -- so after a drop-fill they're perfectly stable.





This style tailpiece is rather rarer than the usual cloud type. I actually like this kind better overall because it gives a nice rounded armrest if one needs to pick this up without a strap and play.

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