6/20/2015

1941 Stradolin Jr Archtop Mandolin




It's easy to date this one -- it's stamped December 9 1941 right on the inside back. That's two days after Pearl Harbor and for a 74 year-old, this mandolin is in prime form. There's controversy over who made Stradolins, but suffice to say they were made in the New York area and, as far as I know, were sold via Sorkin Music for the most part.

It has an all-laminate (maple) body with press-arched top and back and a maple neck with Brazilian rosewood fretboard and bridge. That doesn't sound too impressive off the bat, but Stradolins are amazingly-good instruments for their specs. They have a great sound and, once spruced-up, handle beautifully. For a mandolin player they make a perfect "random gig" or "outdoors" instrument because they're tough and practical but don't skimp on playability or sound.



I have to be honest: I bought this mando for myself (at least for the near future). I had a nice carved-top Stradolin years ago and missed the feel and punch. This has it, albeit a little more compressed. So, thinking of myself, I decided to level the board and refret the neck.

I could've just leveled the frets down, but they'd been pretty worn in the 3-9 area and it would've felt OK but slightly "tight" in the end. Leveling the board showed-off that rosewood right away and the new small-width, medium-height frets give the mando a brand-new, boutique, modern feel. It's effortless.

After that work I just needed to clean the instrument, compensate the bridge topper, add side dots, and set it up. I might've used 36w-11 strings, but I put 34w-10 on for safety's sake. Sounds good!


Everything save the frets and side dots are original equipment on this mando. The tuners actually work quite well and the rosewood nut is interesting. The neck profile is a sort of more U-shaped Gibson A-50 feel.

This has a 1 1/4" nut and a 13 3/4" scale length.


These frets mean business! They'll survive a lot of level/dresses and definitely add a bit more snap and sustain vs. small stock.


The rosewood adjustable bridge is holding-up just fine. They were made uncompensated... and compensation is necessary for a modern ear.


The inclusion of a cloud-style tailpiece is nice on a lower-end mandolin.

Did I mention the cute little (routed?) edge trim? Always a nice touch.




The "faux flame" on the back is so very typical for the time. I forgot to say I added strap buttons, too. I can't stand having a strap off the headstock!


The tuner plates came with 3 screws each. I rummaged in my bins and added the remaining 4 screws needed for a good, safe fit.





Someone had already enlarged the bottom screw on the tailpiece hanger... so I didn't feel too bad sticking a strap button on there.

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