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peterk
Dec-17-2013, 2:27pm
Several months ago I got my first ever BB mandolin from John Maddock aka Tavy on this board. The instrument comes with a fully blown DeMeglio label which just about covers the entire interior surface of the bowl.....lottsa stuff written on it probably in Italian, and possibly concurrently in several other Indo-European languages:grin:, but at the very top of it one can find written "Model 1" and "1910" as the year of production.

I have enjoyed the instrument very much, and because of John's fine attention to detail, no work of any nature needed to be done on it by me, except occasional polishing.
The instrument had been set up very nicely by John, and it intones very well too......what more can one ask from a bowlback mandolin of that vintage ?
Although smallish in bulk, the mandolin appears to be very well built and robust, with no structural problems of any sort that I can see. Aesthetically, I also feel the DeMeglio system was a big hit: simple, elegant and distinctive in mandolin outline as well as its constituent parts.

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PiccoloPrincipe
Jan-27-2014, 8:21am
Thanks for posting.

Nice to see others enjoying and maintaining period Italian instruments.

How do you find the sound? Do you find it "over" built or constructed? Factory type instruments such as these which can be over-manufactured and feel so solid etc, is really bad actually.



Typically the De Meglio instruments use a metal fret at the bridge and originally a cast brass nut, and often attached to a cast brass zero-fret.

Seems yours is bone with an ebony bridge.
The bridge looks well crafted and period, although I have never seen one on a De Meglio before.

Apparently using a brass nut and metal fret at bridge can really increase and brighten up the sound a great deal (depending how you like it.)

May be worth experimenting with for fun.

Enjoy.
Best wishes.

Jim Garber
Jan-27-2014, 10:09am
PiccoloPrincipe is correct -- at least the DeMeglio I have owned had a shelf-type with a brass saddle and an integral cast brass zero fret (see attached from my former 1901 Model 1A). John M can comment here on what work he did to Peter's mandolin. It also looks like he applied a light finish to the top.

Personally I would think that the bone nut and ebony bridge prob does sound quite nice on this instrument.

What I esp liked was the dark-toned bone tuner buttons on mine. It looks like Peter's has the same buttons.

peterk
Jan-27-2014, 10:59am
Thanx for your feedback, gents.
I also do not think the bridge on my De Meglio is the original one, and possibly the nut was replaced at one point or the other. However, the mandolin works fine the way it is, and not being a history purist, I'll just leave it the way John has set it up for now.
Sometime in the future, I might replace the nut in order to increase the string height just a smidgen, and also I should perhaps even out and de-gloss the varnish coat on the soundboard.

Thankfully for us who inherited those century old De Meglio mandolins, they were probably overbuilt a bit, yet I can't help but admire their relative simplicity and quality of wood and construction methods used. For example, the fit of the tulipwood binding on the soundboard is a thing of beauty. That sort of joinery stability lasting one century one would expect from plastics and metal, but not wood.

PiccoloPrincipe
Jan-27-2014, 12:01pm
Thanx for your feedback, gents.
I also do not think the bridge on my De Meglio is the original one, and possibly the nut was replaced at one point or the other. However, the mandolin works fine the way it is, and not being a history purist, I'll just leave it the way John has set it up for now.


Sure, of course..the bridge is very nice and looks period.
And believe me i can completely appreciate wanting to simply leave it alone as received if set up well, especially if doe by the luthier (and searching around "John" appears to be very good.)

It is nice just to play....(!)

I am in the process of restoring all of mine and I so wish simply to play them already for heaven's sake!


Thankfully for us who inherited those century old De Meglio mandolins, they were probably overbuilt a bit, yet I can't help but admire their relative simplicity and quality of wood and construction methods used. For example, the fit of the tulipwood binding on the soundboard is a thing of beauty. That sort of joinery stability lasting one century one would expect from plastics and metal, but not wood.

Nice.
Enjoy.

Jim Garber
Jan-27-2014, 12:03pm
I am a little perplexed by the description of DeMeglio mandolins as being "overbuilt". I am not sure I agree. Yes, mine was prob heavier than my Emberghers but I still would not say overbuilt. The one I had was a very responsive mandolin with nice tone, prob a little more suited for folk music than classical but really a nice mandolin. I would imagine tho that it sounds even nicer with the changed nut and bridge saddle. In fact I considered putting a bone saddle insert (or replacing the bridge with one like Peter's) to mellow out the tone a bit.

PiccoloPrincipe
Jan-27-2014, 12:06pm
PiccoloPrincipe is correct -- at least the DeMeglio I have owned had a shelf-type with a brass saddle and an integral cast brass zero fret (see attached from my former 1901 Model 1A). John M can comment here on what work he did to Peter's mandolin. It also looks like he applied a light finish to the top.

Personally I would think that the bone nut and ebony bridge prob does sound quite nice on this instrument.

What I esp liked was the dark-toned bone tuner buttons on mine. It looks like Peter's has the same buttons.


Well, there you go..nice.

Excuse me, I am of course new to the forum, but researching different things of course your posts come up often..

My goodness you must have some database of images! What a resource!

Have you ever considered making it public, or even available for sale?
I'd buy it!

You are like the J Edgar Hoover of mandolins it seems....

...without the dress! (smile)

Kind regards.

Jim Garber
Jan-27-2014, 12:14pm
Thanks, PiccoloPrincipe. BTW I do like your avatar name but it is nice to know what we should call you. Your English BTW is excellent. Are you Italian-born? One of these days I must get over to Italy to visit. I have never been there.

I have spent a lot of time here on the Cafe over the years learning all I could about mandolins esp bowlbacks and Italian ones. The bowlback in the US is not well-respected but that is mostly because many are in poor condition and there are few luthiers who want to or know how to restore them. I have learned lots about these wonderful instruments and have some wonderful examples that I play regularly. I am still learning about them.

Yes, I collect jpegs and at some point I need top get my proposed (in my mind) web site together and I will be glad to share these images. I download many from eBay and other sources for future reference.

BTW as far as this thread... check out John Maddock's thread on DeMeglio bridge experiments here (http://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/showthread.php?96649-The-Great-DeMeglio-Bridge-Experiment).

Tavy
Jan-28-2014, 4:32am
Typically the De Meglio instruments use a metal fret at the bridge and originally a cast brass nut, and often attached to a cast brass zero-fret.

Seems yours is bone with an ebony bridge.
The bridge looks well crafted and period, although I have never seen one on a De Meglio before.

The bridge and nut were made by yours truly: originals of both were missing from the instrument when I got it, or at least I think they were - I've done a bunch of these lately and lost track of which was which - there might have been the original bridge in the box when I sent it over the pond to Canada, can't remember :(

And yes, I did experiment with a bunch of different bridges - either this one or it's "sister" that I was working on at the same time, don't remember that either(!) - and frankly I couldn't tell much difference in sound between them. Other than an original bridge with metal saddle was slightly more "definite" sounding, but that was probably due to a higher action / string break angle (and wasn't very playable in that configuration).

Glad to hear Peter's enjoying the instrument, I do remember that one played more in tune than many of these old ones do and so should be a good players instrument, whew, glad there's something I can still remember.... ;)

Tavy
Jan-28-2014, 8:21am
Forgot to mention: my favorite sounding DeMeglio so far did have it's original bridge and nut, however there were other factors in that case which may have had a larger influence:

1) It was a very early 1893 example.
2) It had suffered a broken headstock probably quite early in it's life, and then been put away broken for the next 50-100 years. As a result the bowl/top/neck join had suffered absolutely no distortion due to string tension. In effect, once the headstock was rebuilt this was an "almost new" DeMeglio. I even had to raise the action at the bridge slightly, and I've never had to do that before on one of these ;) The end result was an exemplary neck angle and a good strong sound. Downside is that the straight-across bridge doesn't intonate as well as new compensated one would.

That one's with a 'cafe member in SE Asia now.

Jim Garber
Jan-28-2014, 9:02am
Glad to hear Peter's enjoying the instrument, I do remember that one played more in tune than many of these old ones do and so should be a good players instrument, whew, glad there's something I can still remember.... ;)

I have a feeling that it played in tune because you compensated the bridge. Do you remember what brand and gauge of strings you put on it?

peterk
Jan-28-2014, 9:13am
2) It had suffered a broken headstock probably quite early in it's life, and then been put away broken for the next 50-100 years. As a result the bowl/top/neck join had suffered absolutely no distortion due to string tension.

I guess something good came out of the broken neck incident.:grin:
Frankly, I do not believe that the bridge styling alone could make much difference in the instrument sound. If the bridge is made of solid enough material, if its foot profile conforms to the soundboard, if the saddle makes a good contact with the bridge base, and if the saddle is slotted accurately, the bridge will transmit string vibration to the soundboard as well as it possibly can.

BTW, the compensated bridge alone couldn't do it......the bridge had to be tilted a bit in order to get the usual G course intonation shortfall mitigated.

Shelagh Moore
Jan-28-2014, 9:21am
Very nice! I had one of these for about 25 years and liked it a lot.

Tavy
Jan-28-2014, 12:24pm
I have a feeling that it played in tune because you compensated the bridge. Do you remember what brand and gauge of strings you put on it?

No, but as I haven't been able to get hold of GHS ultralights lately, it was probably the Martin ones.

peterk
Jan-28-2014, 12:29pm
No, but as I haven't been able to get hold of GHS ultralights lately, it was probably the Martin ones.

No worry, John, after you had suggested to me the GHS Ultralight ones, that's what I strung the mandolin with right away.:grin:

Jim Garber
Jan-28-2014, 12:37pm
I think I had Fisoma/Lenzner Consort strings on mine but I would also try Dogal Calace RW92b Dolces on these Italian ones. I would think you would be able to get European strings a lot easier than we can over here. I have also heard that Optima strings are nice on vintage bowlbacks.

Tavy
Jan-28-2014, 2:23pm
I think I had Fisoma/Lenzner Consort strings on mine but I would also try Dogal Calace RW92b Dolces on these Italian ones. I would think you would be able to get European strings a lot easier than we can over here. I have also heard that Optima strings are nice on vintage bowlbacks.

Sigh... you would think so, but in reality none of the usual UK stockists supply these so we have to order them from overseas: usually Thommann and their 10 an order shipping charge for the UK :(

Jim Garber
Jan-28-2014, 3:02pm
I guess Schneidermusik.de (https://schneidermusik.de/shop1/index.php/cPath/397/search_in_categories/1?osCsid=k01prh8i027q3fnvda2e850s53) is the same problem? I ordered from there a number of years ago because I had a German friend traveling back home for the holidays. I had the pkg shipped to her dad and she brought it to me on the plane. I am nuts, aren't I?