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Thread: Likely finish on '30s Chicago mandolin?

  1. #1
    Every day is a gift. Sheila Lagrand's Avatar
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    Default Likely finish on '30s Chicago mandolin?

    My latest acquisition, the one that's labeled an SS Maxwell from Chicago, dates to the 1930s. Her finish, in particular, is in rough shape. What was her original finish likely to be? I'm asking because I'm trying to decide what I might do about the condition of the finish. When I removed the pick guard, the wood beneath it was both darker and glossier and the wood that's been exposed all this time.

    Here are two photos from an area along the treble side of the neck and rib where the finish is completely gone, showing the "edge" between finish and bare wood.
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    Now, what was I after when I wandered in here?

    Phoebe, my 2021 Collings MT mandolin
    Dolly, my 2021 Ibanez M522 mandolin
    Louise, my 193x SS Maxwell mandolin
    Fiona, My 2021 GSM guitar-bodied octave resonator mandolin
    Charlotte, my 2016 Eastman MDO 305 octave mandolin
    Giuliana, my 2002 Hans Schuster 505 violin
    Sally, my 2021 Jasmine S35 guitar

  2. #2
    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
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    Default Re: Likely finish on '30s Chicago mandolin?

    Around 1925 the instrument industry changed over from varnishes to lacquer, so I would suspect your finish might be lacquer.
    Take the tuners off and put a small drop of lacquer thinner on the finish where it will not be seen with the tuners installed. If the finish softens, that indicates lacquer. If nothing happens it may be spirit varnish.

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  4. #3
    Every day is a gift. Sheila Lagrand's Avatar
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    Default Re: Likely finish on '30s Chicago mandolin?

    Thanks, John, I'll try that.

    By the way--the mandolin that Kevin was showing us today, the two-point, is beyond beautiful. Even just looking at pictures, the outstanding quality of craftsmanship is clear. Bravo!
    Now, what was I after when I wandered in here?

    Phoebe, my 2021 Collings MT mandolin
    Dolly, my 2021 Ibanez M522 mandolin
    Louise, my 193x SS Maxwell mandolin
    Fiona, My 2021 GSM guitar-bodied octave resonator mandolin
    Charlotte, my 2016 Eastman MDO 305 octave mandolin
    Giuliana, my 2002 Hans Schuster 505 violin
    Sally, my 2021 Jasmine S35 guitar

  5. The following members say thank you to Sheila Lagrand for this post:


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