12/20/2014

1960s Favilla Mandocello Conversion




This began as a trade of a much-downtrodden New York-made Favilla 12-string guitar (the work it's being traded for, thankfully, is getting near its end). It had a number of funky "repairs" done to it and I knew it was bait for some sort of other use as soon as I saw it. Baritone guitar? Recording piece? Who knows. In this case I said "I want a mandocello, dangit," so that's what it became. It had a holiday for a few hours as a mandolone but that wasn't quite doing it for me.

Work included resetting the neck (again) which was easy as it had been converted into a 2-bolt joint. When I did it, though, I also glued it in and made the joint and back angle acceptable. It also got a fret level/dress, quick conversion of the battered-and-bruised bridge into an adjustable mando-style unit, and a tailpiece added.


No cracks...? Why, of course not! Curiously, Favilla decided to go all-laminate with the construction on this guy. This means: no weather worries. This also means: less than superb tone as a 12-string. As a mandocello, though? Boy, very full and rich.

Mando-izing most instruments makes them sound bigger. It must have to do with the mix of harmonics, 5ths tuning, and doubling-up of the strings... but I have noticed many "lacking" guitars sounding a lot better as some sort of mando-convert.


I fished old mando plates from my parts bin and mounted the slotted shafts from the original tuners on them. The original bone nut also got shimmed up, leveled off, and reslotted.


The board is wide and flat and the neck's profile is sort of a rounded-off flat rectangle (like classical guitars). This is fine for me... as I've grown to liking a lot of space on the board for bigger mando-centric instruments. It makes some chord forms less comfortable but the trade-off is that two-finger sliding shapes (which I use a lot when playing behind a singer) are super-easy to keep clean.


I reglued the curling edges of the original pickguard just enough to stay down and keep from being an irritant.




The big white steaks of a messy old steam job on the neck pocket are very evident. If blush remover had been used a little earlier it would've likely been all or mostly invisible... oh well!


I forgot about also gluing up a headstock crack (see lower left).


It's funny but I'm actually tempted to get a set of Thomastik m'cello strings for this. The tone and feel turned out so surprisingly-well that it wouldn't feel like a pile of lost money going into such a rattlebox.

1 comment:

Scot Danforth said...

This looks like a really fun instrument, Jake! How old do you think it is?