View Full Version : Italian Bowlback Construction

Jim Garber
May-15-2004, 10:21am
Checking out Carlo M's Embergher page (http://www.oldmandolin.com/embergherpage.htm), I noticed the internal view of the Embergher he has on the workbench. It that standard internal bracing with that semi-diagonal one?

Not having taken apart any bowlbacks, is that common. I know most flat mandolins have one transverse brace below the soundhole. I was not aware of the second brace below.


Bob A
May-15-2004, 11:26am
Emberghers are different. They are lined with fir, rather than paper. The second transverse brace can be parallel to the mainbrace, or at an angle. (Alex's book has some fascinating pen-and-ink drawings of bracing patterns and measurements. It seems the higher-end Emberghers have the slant brace, from the 2 examples therein. My Pecoraro also has a slant).

I think most of my bowlbacks have the second brace. They're a pig to look into, with no endpin and little room. A dental mirror is a must-have, along with a flexible light source, or eyeballs on stalks.

Jim Garber
May-15-2004, 11:32am
I guess it is time to take apart a few. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif

I will look at Alex's book for further info. I need to bone up on my Dutch, tho.

Carlo M seems to have taken apart quite a few of these. It looks like, cosmetically at least, he puts them back together.

Also his Calace copy looks pretty good and is reasonable in price. Has anyone played one or had much dealing with him?


Jim Garber
May-17-2004, 8:45pm
After consulting the pictures in Alex's book...

In the book #there are two Emberghers one a solo instrument ca. 1915 with a slant brace and the other the orchestra instrument 1924 with a transverse brace. Is that standard among Emberghers? How does the slanted brace affect the sound?

Then I also notice an orchestra 1894 Nicola e Raffaele Calace also with a slanted brace. Can someone explain the meaning of any of this?


Bob A
May-18-2004, 5:22am
While we're examining the question, let me point out that the fretboard of my Pecoraro, in addition to being slightly radiused, is a couple mm thicker on the bass side than the treble. Doubtless this is by design: additionally, the bridge, while having a very thin cross-section, is asymmetrical as well, being lower (the "wing" that extends beyond the saddle, that is) than the bass wing. Hard to imagine that this is just for ornament. Equally hard to imagine that such a small difference in mass would make any difference in sound, but what other reason could there be?