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Thread: Figlio mandolin repair

  1. #1

    Default Figlio mandolin repair

    Hey guys, very new to the forum and also to mandolins in particular although I do have experience in guitar building/maintenance and I'm a piano tuner/technician by trade so plenty of musical instrument repair knowledge. A customer of mine has asked me to have a look at her Carlo Loveri Figlio bowlback mandolin which has clearly been unloved for too many decades! Apart from some small and insignificant woodworm holes in the top and neck it appears structurally ok but the frets are extremely low and the tailpiece is missing. As far as frets goes, is there a standard height they should be when new? These can't be more than 1mm for the most part and I'm sure thats not right. As for the tailpiece, going on a quick google search, a lot of old bowlbacks seem to be missing the top part and I can't find a suitable replacement anywhere. I've considered buying an old knackered mandolin off ebay to steal the tailpiece but they all seem to be missing them too!

    Any hints, tips and advice appreciated

    Luke

  2. #2

    Default Re: Figlio mandolin repair

    The frets on my 100 year old Washburn bowlback are around 0.95-0.98mm so its not unreasonable for a vintage instrument. I need a tailpiece too!

  3. #3
    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
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    Default Re: Figlio mandolin repair

    [QUOTE=lukewinter;1772638]...As far as frets goes, is there a standard height they should be when new?.../QUOTE]

    To be a little more specific than Jim, no, there is no standard height for frets. I normally measure fret height in thousandths of an inch, but they commonly range from say, .025" to over .040". so your 1mm fret height is actually toward the upper end of the normal range.
    You might be able to find an old tailpiece. Try a "wanted" ad in the classifieds. Otherwise, for function, a new one will work even if it looks terribly out of place.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Figlio mandolin repair

    Frets, like everybody else, seem to have gotten taller and wider over the last century. Just checked my Oscar Schmidt (maybe 100 or so years old) and they’re even lower than JimCh’s, and very likely never re-leveled. Tailpiece covers: this seems to be an issue of originality with some; that is, don’t change the hardware. Others here like to put on new types. Part of the function is to protect the player’s arm from the strings or attachments, so I just made a little slide on out of wood for one of mine. I don’t assume that there are any standard dimensions, so finding a fitting replacement of just the cover might be difficult.
    The other advice I’m sure that you will get is to use lightest available strings; bowlbacks are fragile.

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  6. #5

    Default Re: Figlio mandolin repair

    [QUOTE=sunburst;1772656]
    Quote Originally Posted by lukewinter View Post
    ...As far as frets goes, is there a standard height they should be when new?.../QUOTE]

    To be a little more specific than Jim, no, there is no standard height for frets. I normally measure fret height in thousandths of an inch, but they commonly range from say, .025" to over .040". so your 1mm fret height is actually toward the upper end of the normal range.
    You might be able to find an old tailpiece. Try a "wanted" ad in the classifieds. Otherwise, for function, a new one will work even if it looks terribly out of place.
    Thanks for everyones replies. I guess I'm just used to seeing guitar and bass frets which are usually much bigger than mandolins apparently are! I'll obviously check they're even and not excessively worn in due course but I suspect they are actually alright. As far as a tailpiece goes, I'd rather fit anything authentic rather than some new probably chinese made junk. Or at least if I do need to fit new, then something that looks old!

  7. #6
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Figlio mandolin repair

    Luke:
    The maker of this mandolin is Carlo Loveri. The label probably says Carlo Loveri & Figlio which means Carlo Loveri & Son.

    As for the tailpiece, older Italian mandolins often have very simple tailpieces without covers. The earlier ones sometimes have only 4 posts vs. 8. You can probably find a simple modern tailpiece that works.
    Jim

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  8. #7

    Default Re: Figlio mandolin repair

    Jim, I missed the & out of the name, my bad! I had no idea that Figlio meant son though, you learn something new every day! This is a picture of another Loveri mandolin, I'm assuming mine would have been the same originally?Click image for larger version. 

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  9. #8
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Figlio mandolin repair

    As an instrument tech, you probably have contacts with other repairers and instrument dealers in your area. Contact some of them and see if they have "junk drawers" into which they throw usable parts from unrepairable instruments. Often they'll have bridges, tailpieces, tuners etc. from bowl-backs that they couldn't or wouldn't spend the time and effort to fix. I've come up with some decent bowl-back bridges at reasonable prices, besides banjo bridges, tailpiece covers, and other "vintage" parts.

    Good luck finding an engraved one like the one you pictured, though...
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