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Thread: G. Bauer Bowl Back Mandolin Project

  1. #1
    Registered User Peter K's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2019
    Little Italy in Canada

    Default G. Bauer Bowl Back Mandolin Project

    A good looking mandolin. Very likely nice sounding too while it was healthy. Too bad the neck-bowl joint was knackered and then kind of repaired, which in all probability would mean lottsa work by a good luthier in order to make it right, which in turn would cost a pretty penny. I'd guess such professional repair would probably cost significantly more than what the market value of thus repaired mandolin would be. Not to mention the fact that there are not many mandolin luthiers in Canada/USA willing to undertake repairs of old bowlbacks. Lastly, if two-component epoxy (cement) was used for that old repair, then I'd say the poor mandolin is good for decoration only.

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    Last edited by Peter K; Mar-26-2020 at 2:02am.
    Canadian Multilingual Autodidact Dilettante

  2. #2
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Mar 2006
    Rochester NY 14610

    Default Re: G. Bauer Bowl Back Mandolin Project

    One of my local dealers just e-mailed me that, due to the coronavirus situation, he's closed his store for in-person business, but is conducting sales by phone and internet, and "looking for repair work." Should one have a similar situation wherever, might be a good time to acquire an instrument in need of work at a bargain price, and pass on some business to the local repairperson.

    Even the neck joint on a bowl-back...
    Allen Hopkins
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  3. #3
    Full Grown and Cussin' brunello97's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Ann Arbor/Austin

    Default Re: G. Bauer Bowl Back Mandolin Project

    Thankfully, getting a neck off and reset on a US built bowlback is a slightly easier task.
    The thicker fretboard allows for easier removal to access the (typical) dovetail joint in the neck block. But of course, to steam or otherwise get the joint apart, adjust, shim, realign, reglue, refinish takes many many steps. I've performed the task a number of times both poorly and occasionally marginally well.

    Italian makers tended to have the neck block integral with the neck, which is then, of course what holds that end of the bowl staves together.
    Peter is right: resetting those is a real, if not Quixotic, task. I want to underscore my poor attempts at doing just such.
    For those dedicated to that task, with the proper jigs, clamps etc. and a Vishnu-ian set of extra hands it is a manageable and expensive endeavor.

    But given the sea of wonderful bowlback mandolins still extant but suffering from this problem, one wishes more folks could find it financially beneficial to do so.
    Allen's point is well taken. Could be a chance to fuel some much needed professional bowl-repair skills.

    Sometimes demand drives supply but demand for these wonderful bowls is unfortunately low. Folks have to want it. (See Victor's recent post comping bowls for some inspiration.)

    Our friend Dave Hyndes was telling me about a "neck-o-dectomy" process he was experimenting with for resetting Italian bowl necks: Cut the neck off at the bowl joint. (That's right...) Re-align the facing angle of the join for a proper neck angle and dowel / glue the neck back to the now separated (a la Americana) neck block.

    Frightening. But he was keen on it. I told John M about it and I swear I could see him blanche across the Atlantic. But he said it sounded very plausible. And Dave is Dave.

    But I've got my own pile of Cervantes inspired repairs here already, including a $52 Goodwill bought DeMeglio I just picked up with the earliest DeM serial number (in 1893) that I have in my files. Should have enough pieces from a couple basket cases to set it right. Three weeks stay-at-home may have bright spots after all.

    Ever tried, ever failed? No matter. Try again, fail again. Fail better.--Samuel Beckett

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