View Full Version : c.1900s Mayflower Bowlback Mandolin

Jake Wildwood
Nov-01-2009, 2:34pm
Just finished off this lovely bowlback yesterday. Here are some photos of this Vega cousin. More writeup & photos at:


Nov-01-2009, 3:08pm
That's a nice new shine on that mandolin. The MayFlowler I played looks quite similar. The back of the headstock had engraving on the plate. Is Vega made buy the same guy? These sure are sweet sounding mandolins. I wonder if May is still alive?

Jake Wildwood
Nov-02-2009, 10:07am
I'm pretty sure that at least some of the Vegas were made by the same maker as this Mayflower, as aside from a painted black neck, the specs, size, construction, and materials are identical to a couple of Vegas I've worked on previously. Only cosmetic details were different -- namely, different pickguards or pearl work, etc.

The shine on the mando, however, is totally original. Just took a bunch of cleaning to get it back to health. :)

Nov-02-2009, 10:31am

Jake, if it's not a trade secret, what is your secret for cleaning up such old instruments while, hopefully, not dissolving the finish?

The next time I get up your way, I'll bring my (by then!) cleaned-up & playable '20s Stromberg-Voisinet.

Jake Wildwood
Nov-02-2009, 11:31am
Hi Ed,

I'll PM you.

Dan Hoover
Nov-06-2009, 4:47pm
Jake,that is very beautiful..and it's identical to the one i finally picked up...and i'm loaded with question's..like above,from Ed,what would be a good cleaner????strings??re-fretting???..the one i have is pretty,no very grimy..i'm going to take some pictures,post a thread...get suggestions on the such,hopefully tonight/this weekend yet..very nice Jake...

Dec-13-2009, 4:52am
Nice resto on the old bowlback

I too am curious on the cleaning of these old instruments. I just picked up an old S S Stewart bowlback-made in NY long after SS was dead and the company had been sold. But I was gonna use Murphys oil Soap to take the very dirty finish up to the level of being clean. Is that okay or do you have something else in mind? Also a place to get a nice little old bridge would be helpful. I see Elderly sells ebony bridges for these old Bowls but I need to know what height? I presume they are under 10mm.

I already know to use extra light strings on it. I will post pictures when I can.

Mandolin Mick
Dec-13-2009, 4:58am
Love that batwing pickguard with the pumpkin in the pix! Saved it for autumn wallpaper!

Again, love that batwing!