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Thread: Vintage Mandolin Napoli

  1. #1

    Default Vintage Mandolin Napoli

    Vintage Madolin Napoli


    "Vintage beautiful Italian mandolin 1940s sounds amazing plays perfectly.
    Comes with original hard shell case."

    The ports in the side are an interesting feature. (seller photos)
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    The seller does not show the tail piece, but there is an extended
    plastic cover over the strings with a piece wedged under the strings.
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    The case to accommodate the bowl is pretty fancy.
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    With such upscale features I find it interesting the head stock
    does not have ferrules on the tuner posts.
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    I don't the history, but I wonder. People need to earn a living,
    but does this seem reasonable for 1940s war time Italy? To me
    that suggests post war 1940s, but then maybe the economy would
    have been difficult.
    Thanks,
    sounds_good

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: Vintage Mandolin Napoli

    I've seen valuable Martin D-28's from 1943 and 1944 without ferrules. Wartime restrictions.
    Things were pretty rough in much of Europe throughout the 1940's, even after the war ended.

    And I've seen quite a few bowlback and flat back mandolins from earlier periods without ferrules.
    The one you pictured looks reasonably well built, although I find the heavy pickguard to be perplexing.

  4. #3

    Default Re: Vintage Mandolin Napoli

    I can guess - but only guess - that the thick plastic guard was a way to eliminate an inlaid rosette and probably the rest of the design in one easy step. I think the design is cast into the plastic. At the same time, no recess needs to be cut anywhere. The lack of traditional adornment also points towards something meant to be low cost. And yes, ferrules were not even common on bowl backs, even recently, and obviously not considered necessary.

    I’d like to know more about that case. Is it wood strip construction or something also molded? Just picked up a 1921 mandolin and case where the latter looks to be as much skilled woodwork as the contents: (No maker name)
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  5. #4
    Full Grown and Cussin' brunello97's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vintage Mandolin Napoli

    This is a very nice mandolin. Far older than you suspect.

    This bowlback is in the style of DeMeglio...one of the better makers of Neapolitan mandolins from the classic era.

    It very well may have been made by DeMeglio to be sold under a different stamp, so to speak.

    Folks here often speak of "DeMeglio clones" and there may be some copies out there. Given the production from the DeMeglio
    shop, I believe many of these were actually made there. The details are often exact.

    The '40s date is about 30-35 years, maybe 40 too late. This is likely from the 1898-1910 era of production.

    The DeMeglio system of construction offered a variety of details, some stylistic, some perhaps affecting the tonal performance.

    I own a few and have played many. They are very very nice mandolins.

    Good projections, well balanced, very good intonation...which can be muy sketchioso on cheaper MOR Italian mandolins from the era.

    DeMeglio made hundreds, if not a few thousand mandolins with that design and, yes, with that pickguard.

    Very commonplace scrachplate for a few builders from that era.

    Umberto Ceccherini used a similar pickguard throughout his production in the 1890s to early 1900s.

    Ceccherini's mandolins are exceptional. I own a modest model UC and it is very nice as well.


    Many of the DeMeglio models featured a brass zero fret, as this one does, which I enjoy. Some had a brass saddle as well.

    We don't see many of these in the states. I can't quite tell from the photos what condition the neck angle is in.

    Looks like someone put some heavier strings on it, which is not a good idea.

    For that price ($300) if it were near me I would definitely ride over and have a look.

    If the neck is in decent enough shape to fiddle with the bridge / saddle and get playable, that is a very attractive price for a mandolin of this quality.....with a crack free top.


    Mick
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  7. #5
    Full Grown and Cussin' brunello97's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vintage Mandolin Napoli

    Here's a shot of one of my DeMeglios, fwiw.

    I use the Dogal Calace dolce strings on it.

    It has the brass saddle to go with the brass zero fret.

    It's a pleasure.

    Mick
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    Default Re: Vintage Mandolin Napoli

    . . . and the plastic over the tailpiece might not be plastic.

  10. #7

    Default Re: Vintage Mandolin Napoli

    As usual, right on target, Mick. Yours has the identical design, a matching tail cover and the hold-down bar behind the bridge, missing on the OP’s version. I am surprised that the unitary, thick scratchplate doesn’t deaden the top, because it seems a pretty clever idea in terms of labor.

  11. #8
    Full Grown and Cussin' brunello97's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vintage Mandolin Napoli

    Here's a muy coolioso video that our friend, John Maddock, put together comping a Ceccherini bowlback (with the 'suspect' scratchplate) with a Martin bowlback.

    Folks can make up their own minds about how the scratchplate effects the sound. DeMeglio and Ceccherini sold a lot of great sounding mandolins with them.

    Those with bowlbackophilia will note the many variations with soundhole design, shape and location along with the accompanying scratchplates from the '90s into the '20s.

    Calace, Cristofaro and Puglisi, of course, had some super interesting experiments. All high quality makers so I imagine it is tough to pin down the sound effects unless one is comping A to A'.

    I have a Cristofaro bowl with their unique shaped and located soundhole. Let's say that the bass response is considerable.

    Not to everyone's design taste, but I enjoy the Cristofaro mandolins, and Puglisi, of course.

    Mick

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