View Full Version : Question for Vega cylinder-back owners
After reading the discussion thread down below about Vega cylinder-back mandolins I searched the web for photos and descriptions of these instruments, as I've never encountered one. The design intrigues me and I'm considering building one.
I'm curious about the top bracing. I would guess that the tops are ladder-braced since most bent-top mandolins and guitars (such as Selmers) have such bracing. I'm guessing that there is a brace under the bridge, one just below the soundhole, and a third between the bridge and the tailblock.
Though one repairman is on record saying that the back is carved, and Rigel does this on their reproductions, I think it would be feasible to press a flat plate (using heat and moisture) over a form to create the cylindrical back.
I'm no luthier and don't know anything about construction stuff, but this article touches upon it and might help in your research. Good luck!
The DeVellis instrument is a mandola, and has an extra brace between the cant and the tailpiece. Mine has a brace between the soundhole and the neck block, and another between the cant and the soundhole, which is the main support for the top. This brace has two more radiating from it, like the letter K; the additional braces more or less support the soundhole area, going from the main brace back toward the neck block.
The backs are indeed carved rather than bent. If you wish to replicate, it would be useful in the extreme to actually handle and examine one of these instruments.
The back braces follow the curve of the "cylinder" and are narrow and surprisingly deep. The shape of the soundbox seems to produce an interesting hint of reverb, as notes try to escape the cavernous box. The top, wider than bowlbacks, seems to give the instrument its surprising volume.
The DeVillis mandola is owned by Cafe member bobd, Im sure he could help ya with some questions as could the folks at Rigel they have made a few too.
Thanks, all, for your responses! I'll try to find one of these instruments and examine it. I wonder if Rigel has sold many of their reproductions. The price certainly dissuades me from owning one; another reason to attempt construction!
In addition to the mandola mentioned above, I also have a plain Jane 202 cylinder-back mandolin. Both are wonderful instruments. Unless someone really wants to learn about building these instruments, making one seems like quite a challenge. Tooling up to bend (let alone carve) that back and fit those braces seems pretty intimidating. There are enough of them around that, if the goal is just to find one, it would be easier to track one down than to build one. Of course, buildinghas its own rewards. It's just a lot of work if the process itself is merely a means to an end. It's more than worth the effort, on the other hand, if the process is a goal in itself.
Because they were built in New England, I suspect dealers in Massachusetts see a lot more of them than others do. If Iwere looking for one, I'd contact the Music Emporium in Lexington, MA or Tony Creamer's Fretted Instrument Workshop in Amherst, MA and ask them to keep an eye out for one.
I'll post a sketch of the mandola bracing. But, as BobA correctly noted, the mandolin bracing is different. The dotted line indicates the top crease.
Thanks for that post Bob!
Frank Lucchesi, of Lucchesi Vintage Instruments in Holyoke, MA, has three in his shop right now. #Two (a rosewood 203 and maple 203) are there for repair and one (mahogany 202) is for sale. He also might be willing to answer questions if you give him a call.
Hey, Bob, I really appreciate the sketch. I'm intrigued by the way two of the ladder braces are connected by braces which I assume support the bridge feet. Last year I built a copy of a Selmer oval-hole guitar and it had a similar arrangement, though the ladder braces were closer to the bend in the soundboard. Mario Maccaferri designed the guitar's bracing scheme and he was trained in an Italian shop which made mandolins.
I have the tools for carving violin tops and backs, and I think the cylinder would be easier to carve as there would be no compound curves as in violin-family instruments.
Second Bob, I may give Frank Lucchesi a call. Thanks for the tip!