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Thread: Can This Be Saved?

  1. #1
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    Default Can This Be Saved?

    Hi Guys,

    Is this repairable at all? I know nothing about it except that it's old (maybe 60 years?). There are no markings or branding anywhere, and other than what you see, it's in decent shape. Would you have to take the top off to glue the sections back together? How would you clamp something like this? Any advice is much appreciated.
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  2. #2
    Moderator JEStanek's Avatar
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    Default Re: Can This Be Saved?

    Welcome to the Cafe. I'm neither an expert builder nor on bowls but what I've learned here is, almost anything can be repaired by a competent person. That looks like it may be missing some slivers of wood on one of the ribs as well. However, in general for many bowlbacks fewer ribs means lower quality or value. If that mandolin doesn't have a lot of meaning to you, it may not be worth what those repairs may cost. It's quite likely that instrument is closer to 100 years old if it is an American made, lower end, mass produced one (we could more easily tell with a photo of the headstock and front).

    Jamie
    There are two things to aim at in life: first, to get what you want; and, after that, to enjoy it. Only the wisest of mankind achieve the second. Logan Pearsall Smith, 1865 - 1946

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    Default Re: Can This Be Saved?

    Thanks for the input. I knew that the cost would be prohibitive, so with nothing to lose, I was thinking of taking a stab at it myself. I'm pretty handy, and an upholsterer by trade, so I do work with wood and my hands often, and understand the importance of attention to detail. I just don't know where to start with this. I see you're a fellow Pennsylvanian. Crazy weather we're having for February. I've never seen anything like it.

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    Default Re: Can This Be Saved?

    There are ways to clamp this, making a form or using large rubber bands designed for clamping. Stu Mac used to sell them. I would use hot hide glue. If you are missing splinters of wood plane shavings can be used to fill those areas.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

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    Default Re: Can This Be Saved?

    Thank you so much, that is very helpful info!

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    Registered User belbein's Avatar
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    Default Re: Can This Be Saved?

    I know Hot Hide Glue (HHG) is the gold standard. If you already know how to use it, go for it. If you don't, I'd suggest you don't. It's very difficult to use, the working time is very short (particularly in the winter) and it's just a royal pain. If you want to learn how to use it, it's great stuff, but it takes a lot of practice and a dedicated set up (my dedicated set up is an old min-crockpot, thermometer, etc., so it's not expensive, but it does need to be a dedicated tool.
    belbein

    “Years ago my mother used to say to me, she'd say, ‘In this world, Elwood, you must be oh so smart or oh so pleasant.’ Well, for years I was smart. I recommend pleasant. You may quote me.”

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    Registered User belbein's Avatar
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    Default Re: Can This Be Saved?

    Sorry if this is a dupe post, the first one disappeared. Unfortunately, in the first one, I revealed the meaning of life. But that's gone now. And all that's left is repairing mandolins.

    I'm a compulsive fix-er. I do it because it's easier than writing and takes less time than building a mandolin. I love the challenge of learning new techniques, and solving the puzzles that these messes present us with. What I've learned is that with patience, planning, some dexterity, and a lot of help from the Cafe's experts, you can learn to do anything.

    Two things you can expect as you tackle this. One is that you're going to need a gluing form to hold the top of the mandolin (which is more or less straight) and the back (which is an arc) so that you can get pressure on the slats to glue them up. The second thing is that you need to learn to do is do a set up. Rob Meldrum has blessed us all with a great instruction manual. Everyone who plays a string instrument needs to learn to do "set up," in my opinion.
    belbein

    “Years ago my mother used to say to me, she'd say, ‘In this world, Elwood, you must be oh so smart or oh so pleasant.’ Well, for years I was smart. I recommend pleasant. You may quote me.”

    See my latest blog post: http://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/en...lay-for-People

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  9. #8
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    Default Re: Can This Be Saved?

    Yup, 60 years ago that was probably close to 60 years old. Any chance you could show the front of that mandolin? To be honest these don't carry a whole lot of value and are readily available weekly on eBay for not a whole lot of money in better shape than that one is. Was this a family heirloom? It will be a learning experience for you if you decide to try and fix it but don't think it will increase the value a whole lot.

    These were built around forms similar to the one below.
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    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  10. #9

    Default Re: Can This Be Saved?

    Ohmandy, in the spirit of quick and cheap, you might just not have to do a full production-level disassembly and make molds. In fact, if the top is ok and in the right place, I’ll suggest a very non-professional repair. First, it looks as if two staves are deformed and separated. If the rest are still more or less ok, you might use what welders call ‘butt weld panel clamps’ which can tie the loose stave to one that’s still ok. I don’t know if there’s a luthier’s tool that’s similar, but there should be. The rogue stave, much warped, probably needs some softening, either apart or on the shell. Moisture and heat. The clamps can be put in and taken out through the sound hole, and typically leave an .040 space, which is ok. The old glue, if this is really old, is hide glue, so anything you need to open is easy. Instead of the fabric lining that originally helped hold everything together, maybe use something stronger.

    If there’s really much more wrong than what shows in that photo, then maybe the full teardown, which I imagine is a really big deal.

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    Default Re: Can This Be Saved?

    Wow, thanks so much, guys! Here is the front. And yes, it's a family heirloom. Inherited it from my mother in law who got it from her grandmother who was a music teacher in Kansas in the 20's, 30's and 40's. I can tell you that despite being stored carelessly in the driest part of California for decades, with the strings at full tension, it has perfect intonation. I can't wait to get it polished up and get some fresh strings on this. My daily driver is an Epiphone MM30, which is fine, but this one seems more interesting. Click image for larger version. 

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ID:	183497. She emigrated here from Lithuania, although this seems Italian? Maybe there are markings that I can't see?

  12. #11
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    Default Re: Can This Be Saved?

    When you do get it playable remember these need very light gauge strings.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

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  14. #12
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    Default Re: Can This Be Saved?

    That looks remarkably like my American Conservatory by Lyon & Healy. Definitely not Italian.

    Get that back repaired and use light weight strings and have fun!

    Jamie
    There are two things to aim at in life: first, to get what you want; and, after that, to enjoy it. Only the wisest of mankind achieve the second. Logan Pearsall Smith, 1865 - 1946

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