8/30/2013

c.1895 Unmarked Bowlback Mandolin


Hmm -- while unmarked, the general build style of this instrument plus the un-papered (but lined joints) bowl on the inside makes me think that this was an instrument sold by Lyon & Healy in the 1890s. It's thankfully all-original save some later (1920s) tuners that were installed effectively but folksily (the original shaft holes were filled and can be seen from the front).

It's in great shape, though -- good neck set, frets had enough life left to level and dress them, and there are no cracks save for a light hairline on the bowl (stable) near one of the seams. My work was thus simply a cleaning, fret level/dress, setup, slight recut of the bridge, and tuner lube. It plays beautifully and has that sort of crisp, sustained bowlback tone I'm used to from this time period. It really suits classical-style tremolo play or picked-out tunes but not so much the folk and bluegrass stylings most mandolin players are looking for these days.


There's plenty of playwear and weather-checking to the finish. I love the inset rosewood pickguard. I'm used to seeing celluloid pickguards but the rosewood gives it a leg up despite being pretty plain-Jane.


This headstock shape reminds me of Oscar Schmidt products, but the rest of the instrument does not.


The fretboard is rosewood with pearl dots and it sports a 13 1/16" scale.


The understated rosette looks great.


I compensated the original ebony bridge after I lowered it some.


This has one of those "4 pin" tailpieces like one sees most often on Italian instruments. I love the simplicity and look of these things... those strings come over the "lip" juuust right!


The bowl looks to be made from red-stained plain maple.





These plates had been mounted with 3 screws each. I expanded that to 5 each for sturdiness' sake.


I love that tailpiece!

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