5/19/2012

c.1900 Unmarked 12-fret Rosewood Flatback Mandolin





Kick-butt mandolin alert!

This thing is strange and lovely. It's very modern for the time it was built (c.1900 judging by the hardware and style) with a 12-fret neck and deep body, yet also very timelessly classic-looking, in the way old 5-string banjos from the 1890s are. Understated, simple, but well built.

So, who made it? Dunno! The headstock is very similar to pre-Chicago Regals (well, and in-Chicago ones of later manufacture) and the detailing/rosette/backstrip and styling is similar to pre-Chicago Regals as well. But does that mean anything? Many instruments of the time share the smooth and thin finish with unbound edges in the 1890s/early 1900s. The tuners do have a patent date of 1896, however.

The truth of the matter is that after work, this turned out to be a smooth-sounding, nicely loud, and gusty little bug with good fret access and quick playability.


Solid spruce top, mahogany neck, and Brazilian rosewood back and sides of beautiful ilk. The top has two cleated and stable longish hairline cracks to the treble side.

...oh, repairs? Cleaning, aforementioned crack fixers, replacement (1920s) tailpiece and cover from my parts bin, new bone nut and saddle (vintage-looking), fret level/dress, and setup. Strings are 32w-09 ultra lights on a 13" scale and the action is perfect at 1/16" at the 12th fret.


Rosewood headstock veneer as well.


Pearl dots, rosewood board. Frets are bar stock and nickel-silver. The nut is slightly narrow like on an old Italian bowlback.


Simple rosette. I borrowed this bridge shape from an old parts-bin bridge I had hanging around and it seemed to fit this instrument nicely transferred into bone. Check out the "tan line" from a weirdo trapeze-style guitar bridge that had been lightly glued to the top for some time. It's not too distracting.


I pulled this nice tailpiece and cover out of my parts bin.


See how deep that body is?!



Good neck join.


Really pretty rosewood!



I lubed these tuners and they work just fine.


I like the simple backstrip.




It's such a cute pear-shaped creature. The deep body feels nice in the lap, too -- sort of a bit more to hold onto than usual which lets it rumble on your belly when you play.



Check out the fun endstrip and also the tiny-pin strap button.

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