9/05/2015

1900s Larson-made Ditson Empire Bowlback Mandolin




I'm almost certain that Larson made many of the Ditson-sold bowlbacks of nicer quality (like this one). It certainly has their design stamp all over it and this fancy-grade version of the "Empire" model is certainly something to be proud of: she's a beaut! Ironically, most "Empire" models I've worked on seem to be mid-level professional instruments, but this one is a lot more like the recent "Victory" model I worked on. It's got bling!

This is a customer's mandolin and it came to me in pretty good shape. There was a seam separation that needed addressing on the bowl, a replacement bridge was needed, cleaning too, and a fret level/dress and setup to alleviate a tiny bit of bow in the neck. All that's done and it plays spot-on, has that rich, lingering, precise classical tone (to a T), and looks gorgeous.



The pearl trim is classy and understated (just the way I like it). This instrument is crack-free save the seam separation fix I had to do on the back. It's also entirely original save for me new bone bridge.


Rosewood headstock veneer, fancy recessed tuners, and original bone nut.


Pearl dots in a bound ebony board... also take a looksie at the multi-ply wooden purfling. Nice!



I size and style my new compensated bone bridges on old Italian-style bridges and try to use the most "vintage looking" bone in my pile to match the aesthetic. They always improve a bowlback's sound in terms of volume, clarity, and sustain... which is why I replace missing bridges with them standard, these days.


The tailpiece is lightly engraved.


Tons of ribs! Brazilian rosewood, of course...






During cleaning I lubed the tuners as well and made sure they were secured well and ship-shape.




The engraved tuner cover shined-up nicely after cleaning.

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