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Thread: Mandolin changing its color with time

  1. #1
    Registered User Sevelos's Avatar
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    Default Mandolin changing its color with time

    I have been playing a Romanian mandolin for the last 30 years. I carried it with me and played it everywhere when I got an opportunity - on the beach, near bonfires, performances, etc.
    Not long ago, I bought a used one (but much newer), of the same model.
    The color surprised me. I didn't know that spruce could change its color so much with time...

    (BTW - it is the same model. I have glued the horrible pick-guard myself, the bridge and nut are not original and it had many fixes over the years)

    Click image for larger version. 

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: Mandolin changing its color with time

    Yes, instrument tops do tend to darken - I bought a Martin guitar in 1973 which was almost white and is now a mid/dark honey colour - but I’m not sure whether its the wood itself or the finish which ages; I suspect the latter.

  4. #3
    Registered User tree's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin changing its color with time

    I believe the wood itself darkens as it oxidizes over time - the finish may amber some, but I think the "pumpkin" color that seems so cool in old instruments is more from the wood aging than the finish.
    Clark Beavans

  5. #4
    Adrian Minarovic
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    Default Re: Mandolin changing its color with time

    Some builder told ago that all wood wants to end at kind of medium brown color. The light wood darkens and the darker woods often loose some of the darkness and fade a bit. I'm not so sure about the dark woods but the lighter woods can go quite dark with exposure to sunlight and air and sweat.
    Adrian

  6. #5
    Registered User Henry Eagle's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin changing its color with time

    What Adrian said. And absolutely, many dark woods tend to become lighter in color. Rosewood sure does a lot, ebony hardly at all.

  7. #6
    Registered User seankeegan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin changing its color with time

    My first mandolin was that exact Romanian one you have - same flower logo. I played it from age 8 to 14, when I was lucky enough to get my hands on an A1 Gibson. But it was that mandolin which sparked my lifelong interest. Thanks for sharing the photo; lovely trip down memory lane

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  9. #7
    Registered User Drew Streip's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin changing its color with time

    I had to fight the urge to add any kind of tint to the dreadnought kit I'm building now!

    It looks so white and pale compared to my '54 000-18 but I know one day it'll warm up (assuming it plays well enough to live that long).

  10. #8
    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin changing its color with time

    Quote Originally Posted by HoGo View Post
    Some builder told ago that all wood wants to end at kind of medium brown color. The light wood darkens and the darker woods often loose some of the darkness and fade a bit. I'm not so sure about the dark woods but the lighter woods can go quite dark with exposure to sunlight and air and sweat.
    The way I phrase it is:
    All wood wants to be the same color.
    If you walk into an antique store and see a 100-year-old table on the other side of the room there's a pretty good chance that you can't tell if it is maple, cherry, walnut, poplar or oak (or other) from a distance. Light woods darken, dark woods fade. If kept where there is sun exposure the process is faster, and thus we can see profound color differences from one side of a piece of furniture to the other, undersides of furniture compared to tops and so forth.

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  12. #9

    Default Re: Mandolin changing its color with time

    This is good news for me.
    I recently bought a Hora mandola and I would love to see the top get all funky like that.

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  14. #10

    Default Re: Mandolin changing its color with time

    I'd love to know what the top of my A 1 looked like 105 years ago.
    Silverangel A
    Michael Kelly LSFTB
    Arches F style kit
    1913 Gibson A-1

  15. #11
    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin changing its color with time

    Violin makers routinely use UV cabinets (cabinets with mirrors and UV lights in the inside walls) to get color into violins in the white. It looks better under varnish.
    Charley

    A bunch of stuff with four strings

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