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Thread: New (to me) mandolute

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    Default New (to me) mandolute

    I got this today in trade for a bunch of guitar stuff at a very good local music store. A Weymann probably model 20, serial number 16180, probably 1914. Has a repaired top crack.













    Right now I don't love it. The four low strings sound good, the higher strings are a little harsh. Sustain is short. I might make a new bridge for it. It seemed to open up a little when i went from 11s on the top to tens. I'll keep playing it and see

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    Default Re: New (to me) mandolute

    This sort of instrument was generally built with light strings in mind. Try 10 - 14 - 24 - 36 or lighter. If it still sounds tight and harsh, you can go down to 9 or 9/12 - 13 - 22 - 36.

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    Default Re: New (to me) mandolute

    Quote Originally Posted by rcc56 View Post
    This sort of instrument was generally built with light strings in mind. Try 10 - 14 - 24 - 36 or lighter. If it still sounds tight and harsh, you can go down to 9 or 9/12 - 13 - 22 - 36.
    I tried tuning it down a step and it opened up a bit more. Tomorrow I'll see what i can find for strings locally. My interest in this is partly that I'm using it for Irish music and partly that I'm doing research on Philadelphia in 1914, which is when and where this mandolin was made.

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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: New (to me) mandolute

    My favorite strings for old bowlbacks and flattops are Dogal Calace RW92b dolce. Bernunzio.com usually has them.
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    Default Re: New (to me) mandolute

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    My favorite strings for old bowlbacks and flattops are Dogal Calace RW92b dolce. Bernunzio.com usually has them.
    Thank you Jim: I should add this isn't ether a flattop, technically or a bowlback but neither is it carved. The top has a slight arch from side to side and a pronounced arch from neck to tail. The back has a more pronounced arch from side to side and the same arch neck to tail. It's an interesting design from a luthiery standpoint

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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: New (to me) mandolute

    We generally refer to non-carved top mandolins as flat tops. I believe that most non-carved instruments including guitars have some induced arching. That is also the reason for the cant or fold in the tops of bowlbacks and flattops. Otherwise the tops will sink with the downward pressure of the strings.
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    Default Re: New (to me) mandolute

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    We generally refer to non-carved top mandolins as flat tops. I believe that most non-carved instruments including guitars have some induced arching. That is also the reason for the cant or fold in the tops of bowlbacks and flattops. Otherwise the tops will sink with the downward pressure of the strings.
    Seem totally reasonable, and I'm not being argumentative, just offering information. The arch induced here on the top and the back is much more extreme than you'd find on most flattop acoustic guitars, for example. There maybe other non-carved mandolins that do this, I have no idea. know about the martin madnoin toops and have Selmer style guitar with the "creased" top


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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: New (to me) mandolute

    I believe that the Greek instrument makers induce an arch without a cant on their bowlback instruments.

    As for Weymann mandolute, it was a design patent and the ads for them mention a "swelled" top and back.

    Here is the patent from 1913:
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    And a page from a brochure:
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    Lots of other information about Weymann on this site (and other articles as well): https://www.leavingthisworld.com/h-w...n-innovations/
    Last edited by Jim Garber; Sep-09-2021 at 2:46pm.
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    Default Re: New (to me) mandolute

    I owned a low-end mandolute for a decade or so before it went in trade. Predicting that if you tweak string gauges (and possibly composition of the windings on the lower courses), you'll end up with an instrument you like.

    As Jim points out, the induced-arch top and back were definitive features of the mandolute. Hope you got a case for it; sometimes hard to fit one in modern cases. I was lucky and got mine with the original case.
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    Default Re: New (to me) mandolute

    Quote Originally Posted by PB+J View Post
    I got this today in trade for a bunch of guitar stuff at a very good local music store. A Weymann probably model 20, serial number 16180, probably 1914. Has a repaired top crack.













    Right now I don't love it. The four low strings sound good, the higher strings are a little harsh. Sustain is short. I might make a new bridge for it. It seemed to open up a little when i went from 11s on the top to tens. I'll keep playing it and see
    That's a very nice looking mandolin! I'm not familiar with Weymann mandolins but I really like the old mandos. They have something special to their sound and look and feel.

  11. #11

    Default Re: New (to me) mandolute

    I pretty new to the world of vintage mandolins. I need to get more familiar with the old manufacturers. But I do like that "mandolute" !

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    Default Re: New (to me) mandolute

    Just an update. I wanted to lower the action a bit but didn't want to mod the original bridge, so I made a new one. I ordered a new adjustable bridge from StewMac and then cut it down and glue it to a maple base. It took a good deal of sanding to match the curve of the top.

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    It's interesting--it sounds brighter, possibly because the new bridge weighs less and the action is slightly lower. Not clearly better or clearly worse, but different. I have a few pieces of ebony around the shop and might make a whole new bridge.

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    Default Re: New (to me) mandolute

    Cutting bridges for mandolins can be like going down a rabbit hole. Materials, shapes, thicknesses, etc. all have an effect on the sound.
    If you are going to cut a new bridge, and you've lightened the treble strings and they still sound harsh, you might try cutting one out of rosewood.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: New (to me) mandolute

    In the second photo, it looks like the back is separating from the sides?
    Charley

    A bunch of stuff with four strings

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    Default Re: New (to me) mandolute

    Quote Originally Posted by Charles E. View Post
    In the second photo, it looks like the back is separating from the sides?
    What you're seeing might be the "violin edge" characteristic of the better mandolutes. where the edges of the top and back project over the sides, and are sculpted into a half-round "bead" around the instrument's circumference.

    The lower-end mandolute I used to own didn't have violin edges, just a standard back-to-side joint. This one's a high-end instrument, apparently.
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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: New (to me) mandolute

    Quote Originally Posted by rcc56 View Post
    Cutting bridges for mandolins can be like going down a rabbit hole. Materials, shapes, thicknesses, etc. all have an effect on the sound.
    If you are going to cut a new bridge, and you've lightened the treble strings and they still sound harsh, you might try cutting one out of rosewood.
    An interesting approach was some experimentation by Red Henry on mandolin bridges based on Violin bridges: https://www.murphymethod.com/index.c...t&contentId=87
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    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: New (to me) mandolute

    Quote Originally Posted by allenhopkins View Post
    What you're seeing might be the "violin edge" characteristic of the better mandolutes. where the edges of the top and back project over the sides, and are sculpted into a half-round "bead" around the instrument's circumference.

    The lower-end mandolute I used to own didn't have violin edges, just a standard back-to-side joint. This one's a high-end instrument, apparently.
    I am pretty sure what I am seeing is a visible gap between the back and the ribs with glue strands. I think the back was removed at some point and re glued. But I could be wrong.
    Charley

    A bunch of stuff with four strings

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    Default Re: New (to me) mandolute

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    An interesting approach was some experimentation by Red Henry on mandolin bridges based on Violin bridges: https://www.murphymethod.com/index.c...t&contentId=87
    Violin bridges are a really deep rabbit hole.

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  21. #19
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    Default Re: New (to me) mandolute

    Are the raised bindings on the sides just for decoration, or do they take the place of linings inside the instrument? They look cool, whatever function they may have.

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    Default Re: New (to me) mandolute

    Quote Originally Posted by Charles E. View Post
    In the second photo, it looks like the back is separating from the sides?
    Looks like that to me too.
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