12/13/2013

c.1905 Weymann Bowlback Mandolin


Well, this guy is pretty cool. I don't see too many very early Weymann instruments but this is definitely one of them with a serial number in the 5000s range. It's very similar to bowlback mandolins made by other East Coast makes at the time, though it does have "Weymann touches" that defined their line of mandolins in general over the next couple decades.

These include a general sturdiness of build, a focused and balanced tonality that's better "out in front" than in the driver's seat, and little stylistic touches -- the "open book" headstock shape, down-turned edges at the soundhole (on unbound soundhole models), and an elegant and refined look.




While this is a very plain model (it has no binding!) it has nice fittings (metal-button Waverly tuners and a bone/rosewood bridge) and gorgeous two-tone birdseye maple ribs on the bowl.

My work included repairing a couple hairline/seam cracks on the bowl's back (typical dryness cracks) as well as a cleaning, fret level/dress, tuner lube, and full setup. The bridge got a light shave, too, and in the end this plays beautifully and is now setup with regular "bowlback gauge" strings (I use GHS A240 sets with 32w-9 gauges). Action height is a hair under 1/16" at the 12th fret (spot on).

I think the tone is perfectly suitable for old-time as well as classical music and you might find it useful in a pinch for Celtic tunes. Weymanns tend to have excellent clarity.


This instrument is 100% original and in good condition overall.


Pearl dots.


The sleek design of the rosette and soundhole looks almost 2000s-modern.


The only top crack is a tiny one that runs from where the pickguard has a crack just to the bass side of the G string pair. It's right over bracing and sealed up/drop-filled.




The finish cleaned up well and gleams! It's unfortunate there's not a lot of sunny weather now that we're in winter as the fancy birdseye maple bowl really pops out with a brilliant pumpkiny-red-orange color that's quite three-dimensional.





Heel joint is perfect.



You can get a better idea of the birdseye in this shot...

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