c.1915 Weymann Style 15 Mandolute Mandolin

The serial on this guy is pretty close to this confirmed 1915 Weymann style 50 so I suppose this one probably dates to 1915 as well. Anyhow, this is the plainest Mandolute I've personally worked on, though as far as mandolins from the time go, it's anything but plain. Weymanns are quality instruments that I think of on the same level as Vega and Martin flatback models. They're a bit different, tonally, though: they sound like an extended-harmonics, fuller-depth bowlback mandolin more than your average flatback. This means that they have a sort of crisp sweetness followed up with a lot of sustain.

My work on this mando included a fret level/dress (which ameliorated a tiny amount of relief in the neck), seam reglues, and hairline crack repair/cleating on the lower bout top and also next to the fretboard extension on the top. I also cut a new bone nut and new, compensated bone bridge and fished a suitable tailpiece from my parts bin.

The result is a great-playing (1/16" at the 12th fret), sweet-sounding (perfect for folk or Celtic circles) mandolin with a "medium" 13 1/2" scale length and professional feel.

Most Weymann "Mandolute" model mandolins have "violin style" raised edges that look a bit like violin edges and also tend to have pretty fancy flamed maple used on the back, sides, and neck. The least-expensive models (like this style 15) don't, however, and usually use mahogany for the back and sides woods. This one uses plain-wrap maple instead and has a mahogany neck.

Rosewood headstock veneer with "open book" headstock. The tuners are old Waverly units with metal buttons. They work fine but have a tiny amount of play during tuning -- like most old mandolin tuners. I always suggest when using vintage tuners to tune down and then back up if you overshoot a note sharp when tuning.

Pearl dots are inlaid into a dyed-maple board. The frets are (now) in good shape and ready to get going on the next 100 years. Note the rosewood top binding with green/black purfling along the edges. Nice!

The faux-tortoise inlaid celluloid pickguard is typical for Weymanns as is the bound soundhole and that particular type of rosette inlay.

There are no cracks in the back or sides (well, there's one tiny little "bumped edge" on this side seam at the widest point) but the back shows plenty of buckle/playwear. I like the nice deep red the maple was stained on this guy.

Pretty slick-looking tuners, huh?

Good heel joint!

Here you can see how markedly different the Weymann build approach to these "Mandolute" mandolin models were at the time: they have domed tops fitted to sides that "pinch" at the heel and tailpiece area. This creates a voicing effect that's somewhere between a full-fledged woody/warm flatback and a clean/crisp bowlback sound. I like!

While the original tailpiece would have been a Waverly "cloud" type, this parts-bin, slightly beat-up tailpiece works just fine.

Weymann stained the interiors of most of the mandolins I've seen made by them. I love that little label.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have a similar Weymann Mandolute and love it. Very sweet sound, which as you said is perfect for Celtic music.