6/11/2016

1890s Regal-made Montgomery Ward Mandolinetto





Mandolinettos (guitar-shaped mandolins) aren't extraordinarily rare, but they are uncommon. This one is obviously of nice quality with a carefully-trimmed body and sporting good materials -- an ebony fretboard and bridge, Brazilian rosewood back and sides, mahogany neck, and spruce top. It's also obviously been cared-for over the years, as it's definitely not as beat-up as it could be. I'm pretty sure this was made by Regal, though definitely before they made the move to Chicago from Indianapolis (up to 1904).

A customer brought this in and my work included a brace reglue, "popsicle brace" reinforcement under the fretboard extension area, a very light fret level/dress, and general cleaning and setup. It plays perfectly, has a 13" scale and, like other mandolinettos, a voice that's a lot more powerful and "full" than you'd expect from its diminutive size. Part of that, of course, is that it has a bit of extra airspace due to the deeper sides.


Pretty, huh?


The headstock has the usual Regal "dipped" shape, an ebony nut, and a rosewood headstock veneer.


As usual for the time, the frets are tiny and this one was played, so they had a bit of wear. I "did my best" for them but couldn't level all the divots perfectly-out as there wouldn't be any frets left if I did.

Note, also, the hairline crack next to the fretboard extension. The "pinched" shoulders mean this joint would've been prone to shifting if I hadn't added a popsicle brace under the top, there, as well. I make mine a little thicker and shove them right up next to the neck block for repairs-purposes to act like an extension of the block and thus take some compression off of the top itself.


The trim is gorgeous, huh? I love half-herringbone purfling.


I compensated the original ebony bridge as best as I could.

These are the same 32w-9 GHS A240 pack of strings that I use on all period mandolins save carved-top models, which can usually take a bit more tension.


The nickel-plated brass "shell" tailpiece is lovely.





The tuners are a little fussy but work well-enough.






The blue/white Wards label in the soundhole is pretty cute.

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