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Thread: Care of the sounboard

  1. #1

    Default Care of the sounboard

    I have just bought my son a 1900 bowl back for Christmas and I'm wondering how to care for the soundboard as it looks dry and in need of some attention and possibly bring out the grain detail also.

    It is spruce apparently - would Danish oil be a good treatment? If not, all ideas gratefully received.

    C.

  2. #2
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Care of the sounboard

    Pictures are always the best way for us to assess your instruments needs.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  3. #3
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Care of the sounboard

    Are there cracks in the soundboard? I have a feeling that you may have an Italian bowlback. Many of those look like they have little or no finish on the top. It was the style of those Napoli-made instruments. I would not touch it unless absolutely necessary.
    Jim

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  4. #4

    Default Re: Care of the sounboard

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeEdgerton View Post
    Pictures are always the best way for us to assess your instruments needs.
    Thanks for the response.

    Here's a photo...

    Click image for larger version. 

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    C.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Care of the sounboard

    Thanks Jim. It is Italian and although I know nothing about mandolins it does seem to be in good condition with a nice smooth unbuckled finish to the soundboard. Personally I would be happy with the understated finish but was just wondering if a more lustrous look was normal.

    C.

  6. #6
    but that's just me Bertram Henze's Avatar
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    Default Re: Care of the sounboard

    Quote Originally Posted by cccustard View Post
    ...was just wondering if a more lustrous look was normal.
    The style of instrument determines what is normal, and with this one I would not change a thing. It has exactly the unpretentious classical reserved look not to divert attention away from the music. This was not made to be played I-IV-V by guys in two-toned shoes.
    the world is better off without bad ideas, good ideas are better off without the world

  7. #7
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Care of the sounboard

    I only see part of the label. Can you post a photo with more of it or at least tell us what it says on it. Looks like there is something about "il mondo" and a map of the world. OTOH it could be a dealer or store label.
    Jim

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    Default Re: Care of the sounboard

    It looks like it may need to be cleaned. A little naphtha on a soft cotton cloth will remove a lot of grime and will not harm the finish, which should be left originalwith no overcoating.
    Don

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  10. #9

    Default Re: Care of the sounboard

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    I only see part of the label. Can you post a photo with more of it or at least tell us what it says on it. Looks like there is something about "il mondo" and a map of the world. OTOH it could be a dealer or store label.
    Hi Jim,

    Here's a photo of the label.

    C.

  11. #10

    Default Re: Care of the sounboard

    Quote Originally Posted by Bertram Henze View Post
    The style of instrument determines what is normal, and with this one I would not change a thing. It has exactly the unpretentious classical reserved look not to divert attention away from the music. This was not made to be played I-IV-V by guys in two-toned shoes.
    Hi Bertram,

    I am intrigued by your response. Whilst agreeing wholeheartedly about the two-tone shoe player, I have no idea what I-IV-V is. Please explain.

    C.

  12. #11
    but that's just me Bertram Henze's Avatar
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    Default Re: Care of the sounboard

    Quote Originally Posted by cccustard View Post
    Hi Bertram,

    I am intrigued by your response. Whilst agreeing wholeheartedly about the two-tone shoe player, I have no idea what I-IV-V is. Please explain.

    C.
    Three-chord Nashville notation (base, 4th, 5th).
    the world is better off without bad ideas, good ideas are better off without the world

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    Registered User John Kelly's Avatar
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    Default Re: Care of the sounboard

    Quote Originally Posted by Bertram Henze View Post
    Three-chord Nashville notation (base, 4th, 5th).
    Bertram, this reminds me of a quote I heard a while back about the difference between a jazz guitarist and a country guitarist: The jazz guitarist plays hundreds of chords to an audience of three, and the country guitarist plays three chords to an audience of hundreds.
    I'm playing all the right notes, but not necessarily in the right order. - Eric Morecambe

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  15. #13
    but that's just me Bertram Henze's Avatar
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    Default Re: Care of the sounboard

    Quote Originally Posted by John Kelly View Post
    ...three chords to an audience of hundreds.
    Aye, that's what I call efficient.
    the world is better off without bad ideas, good ideas are better off without the world

  16. #14

    Default Re: Care of the sounboard

    I usually put lemon oil or red oil on my guitar fretboards. I can think of why it wouldnt be good for this if the wood is dry.

  17. #15

    Default Re: Care of the sounboard

    Use 0000 steel wool to clean the fretboard and polish the frets then use lemon oil. Old bowlbacks in good condition are very rare (at least here in europe) so you are very lucky.

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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Care of the sounboard

    Quote Originally Posted by cccustard View Post
    Hi Jim,

    Here's a photo of the label.

    C.
    I don't see any photo here.

    Quote Originally Posted by TapTap View Post
    Use 0000 steel wool to clean the fretboard and polish the frets then use lemon oil. Old bowlbacks in good condition are very rare (at least here in europe) so you are very lucky.
    That is funny because I always think of Europe as have at least as many of not more quality bowlbacks.
    Jim

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    Default Re: Care of the sounboard

    A couple World Wars with attendant destruction, Il Duce railing against the do-nothing Neapolitan mandolinists, and the general decline of attention to traditional music-making probably played a part in a seeming shortage, perhaps.

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