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Thread: Mandolincafe Restoration Challenge

  1. #51
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    Default Re: Mandolincafe Restoration Challenge

    Darryl...
    What an excellent idea! I'd be glad to provide a rosette (although we only do the F4 style with celluloid center strip). We can either provide it and/or install it.
    Going to be fun to watch this one...
    Roger

  2. #52
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    Default Re: Mandolincafe Restoration Challenge

    I think non luthiers contributing to the project toward expenses would be a good thing. Machines, supplies, shipping all cost something, but working out how it would work out might be more than a handful.

    Your hearts are in the right place, lets see where it all goes.

  3. #53
    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolincafe Restoration Challenge

    Quote Originally Posted by siminoff View Post
    Darryl...
    What an excellent idea! I'd be glad to provide a rosette (although we only do the F4 style with celluloid center strip).
    That and the correct binding would make it a paddlehead A2Z ...
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  4. #54
    Hester Mandolins Gail Hester's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolincafe Restoration Challenge

    Martin, I don't remember which rosette variation is on your A2Z but I have never seen the A4, F4 style black/white block rope rosette on an A2Z. It does bring up an interesting question though in terms of what direction to go. Since it will have back and fretboard binding it seems logical to make it either the A4 or A2Z. It would require the correct rosette and headstock inlay for one of those models as well as a black stripe in the binding for an A2Z. There were variations in the A2Z rosettes and here's an unusual paddle head from the archive.

    http://www.mandolinarchive.com/perl/show_mando.pl?2954

    The A2Z rosette pictured below seems to be the most common for that model, same as on an A3.

    I think it would be more straight forward to make it an A4 so I guess that would be my choice.
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    Gail Hester

  5. #55
    Registered User mando.player's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolincafe Restoration Challenge

    I also think Martin's CaseNotes idea is an excellent one. Sure the process will be documented here, but nothing beats the analog thoughts of these great builders assessing and working on this instrument. I think it would definitely add quite a bit of value to the final price.
    Charlie Jones

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  6. #56
    Formerly F5JOURNL Darryl Wolfe's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolincafe Restoration Challenge

    OK..I have given this some thought over the weekend. I believe it best to make this an A4. And I notice Gail came up with the same. This will firmly establish the goal we are working to and will provide a few additional items such as the peghead inlay for folks to volunteer to do. A period correct A4 would be blackface with a large fleur de lis and rosette with the sortof herringbonish edges and ivoroid center. We could also bring it forward some and make a 1920ish A4 with red burst and the smaller inlay. Doing something collaborative would best be served on a scratch built instrument.

    I will work with Scott and weigh in later on the contribution idea.
    Darryl G. Wolfe, The F5 Journal
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  7. #57

    Default Re: Mandolincafe Restoration Challenge

    I would like to offer an engraved tailpiece. It could be a traditional shape or I have a few other options. We can work out the engraving at a later date. Let me know if that would be of interest.

    Bill
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  8. #58
    Hester Mandolins Gail Hester's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolincafe Restoration Challenge

    Wow, that is awesome Bill. I thought I was going to have to grind my name off of one.

    My vote would be for the traditional design and maybe with the "Mandolin Cafe" engraved. The last person working on the mandolin will have the pleasure of installing that and stringing it up for the first time.
    Gail Hester

  9. #59
    Registered User Mike Romkey's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolincafe Restoration Challenge

    GREAT IDEA! I have a fairly unplayable 1921 A, and have been thinking, "Hmmm...." What vintage are the neck and body? I hope to read a discussion of what is done to the sound plate and inside the mandolin.

  10. #60
    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolincafe Restoration Challenge

    Quote Originally Posted by Gail Hester View Post
    Martin, I don't remember which rosette variation is on your A2Z but I have never seen the A4, F4 style black/white block rope rosette on an A2Z.
    You're right, of course. Mine is the common straight-line rosette, like the photo you posted. I really should look before I leap sometimes.

    In one of Darryl's photos there's a number written in marker on the instrument's top: 143xx. Am I to assume that's the serial number? If so, we're talking 1913 or thereabouts, and here's a question: do you make it a slavishly period-correct A4 with a nonextended fretboard, or do you go ahead and do the fretboard extension? To many, it's not an A4 without a Florida, even though that feature didn't appear on A4s until 1914.

    What about a pickguard? Anyone doing repros of pickguards from this period? This would be not long after Gibson stopped using the chinrest clamps.
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  11. #61
    Formerly F5JOURNL Darryl Wolfe's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolincafe Restoration Challenge

    Yes that is the serial number. Here it is next to a super clean same period mandola I picked up last Saturday
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    Darryl G. Wolfe, The F5 Journal
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  12. #62
    Formerly F5JOURNL Darryl Wolfe's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolincafe Restoration Challenge

    Thank you very much Bill. I was hoping some of our supplier types would join in.
    Darryl G. Wolfe, The F5 Journal
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  13. #63
    Mike Parks woodwizard's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolincafe Restoration Challenge

    Quote Originally Posted by megamafro View Post
    Amazing idea. I will follow this thread with eager anticipation of what will happen next.
    Dito on that ... this is so cool!
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  14. #64
    Formerly F5JOURNL Darryl Wolfe's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolincafe Restoration Challenge

    Bump--Gail Hester has the mandolin and will be updating us on it. She has discovered some interesting things that need some remediation
    Darryl G. Wolfe, The F5 Journal
    www.f5journal.com

  15. #65

    Default Re: Mandolincafe Restoration Challenge

    Daryl,

    I'm not a builder, I'm a writer (Fretboard Journal, No Depression, Billboard, Austin Chronicle and so on...).

    If it would be of use, I would volunteer to interview the involved luthiers at the end of the project (or their portions thereof), to create either an article or an oral history regarding the restoration.

    Michael
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  16. #66
    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolincafe Restoration Challenge

    Hey Gail, can we stop by Sunday night and have a look-see?
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  17. #67
    Mandol'Aisne Daniel Nestlerode's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolincafe Restoration Challenge

    Quote Originally Posted by Darryl Wolfe View Post
    Bump--Gail Hester has the mandolin and will be updating us on it. She has discovered some interesting things that need some remediation

    Do tell!

    Daniel

  18. #68
    Registered User Eric Hanson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolincafe Restoration Challenge

    Michael
    I think you have a wonderful idea. I hope it gets approved.
    Eric Hanson
    Click #016/ Born on 2/29/08 - Sold to the next Conservator of this great mandolin!
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  19. #69
    Formerly F5JOURNL Darryl Wolfe's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolincafe Restoration Challenge

    That sounds like a good idea Michael
    Darryl G. Wolfe, The F5 Journal
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  20. #70
    Hester Mandolins Gail Hester's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolincafe Restoration Challenge

    Hey Gail, can we stop by Sunday night and have a look-see?
    Martin, that would be great. I sent you a PM.


    I'm just about finished with my part and will be posting a bit later today.
    Gail Hester

  21. #71
    Hester Mandolins Gail Hester's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolincafe Restoration Challenge

    Hello All. I have had a few days to evaluate the mandolin and to get started on the restoration work. Once again I’d like to say how happy I am to be a part of this restoration to benefit the MC. Along with the impressive list of luthiers (not referring to myself) who have volunteered to donate their time working on the mandolin there has been an outpouring of others from those volunteering to help with their talents and goods and services. It is heartwarming and speaks volumes about how much the members here appreciate this site.

    This mandolin is very rare in that it has both a one-piece back and a one-piece top. I have never seen an old Gibson like this so that makes it an interesting mandolin to work on. The wood is wonderful in the top and back and they are without issues although without a center line the mandolin poses some challenges for those who work on it. Despite some restoration challenges I believe this mandolin will be very desirable when finished. It is a circa 1918 A1 but there seems to be agreement to convert it to an A4 so that’s the direction we are headed.

    The Evaluation. The first thing I noticed about the mandolin is that it is very heavy compared to others of the period. Tapping on the top and back produce a thin/tight tap tone. I used my Hacklinger gauge to map the graduations of the top and back and as suspected they are quite thick (see posted graduation maps). The graduation maps shows the back measurements in red and the top in black. Over all they thicker than I would expect to see on a teens mandolin and much thicker than on a Loar era mandolin. The sides were about .098” which is on the thicker side of the normal range of between .060 to .100”. In addition to the overall thickness of the mandolin the re-curve area is very minimal and is what I consider to be much too thick (on the top .160” vice the .118” that I would expect to see in a Loar era A4). The only areas that I would question as being too thin are the inside or upslope of the recurve towards the center. WARNING, Gail’s commentary to follow. This is the kind of thing that makes me wonder what they were doing on some of the earlier mandolins and why I believe the Loar era mandolins are more refined as greater care was taken in the graduations and shaping. I recently had to double the top on a 1918 A3 that was carved so thin that the entire top warped to the touch. To me it was the consistency and refinement of graduations and shaping that makes the difference in volume and sound focus of the snakeheads over many of the older As. Many say that Loar had nothing to do with the A-style mandolins and that maybe true but many things about them changed when he came along.

    So...the next thing I did was remove the rest of the finish and oxidation while re-shaping the neck and re-curve and taking a little off of some of the thick areas to bring the graduations closer to average. That made a big difference in the way the box sounds and it is still plenty thick to allow for additional finish sanding when the time comes (see pictures).

    There were also a few other unanticipated issues.

    • Neck surprise. The neck had noticeable random hippie sanding on both sides in front of the nut so I removed the neck finish so that I could reshape the neck in that area. I was surprised to find what looks like an original factory manufacture of repaired neck wood. It seems stable and was under what appeared to be the original stain. This kind of thing is not uncommon and I have found cracks in mandolins before where the original stain wicked through to the underside of the top.

    • Binding channels. The back binding channel has been cut too deep in height making the ribs 1 3/8” in stead of the 1 ” they should be. This should not cause a problem for Austin Clark to install the binding when it gets to him.

    My part of this restoration. In addition to the evaluation and graduation mapping, sanding and shaping, taking some pictures and cleaning it out inside (I put in some rice and rolled it around which got some of it out but it still shows its age), I have made a replica/period end pin with MOP dot which I will send along with the mandolin.

    Others will likely have their own observations and comments but these were the high points as I saw them.

    Where to send it next? I am finished with my part. Normally I would bind the mandolin next and without binding the edges of the top and back are a bit fragile so we’ll have to be careful with it until it gets bound. Since Roger Siminoff has offered to install one of his A4 rosettes I think it makes sense to keep the mandolin on the West coast for a bit and ship it his way. After that it could be sent to Lynn Dudenbostel for the fretboard or Austin for the binding. It will also need a red abalone A4 fleur-de-lis installed and a heel cap fashioned. Then maybe it could be sent on to John Hamlett and Will Kimble for finishing. It will then need the hardware installed and so on.

    I will start posting pictures somewhat in order from the evaluation/inpection on.
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    Gail Hester

  22. #72
    Hester Mandolins Gail Hester's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolincafe Restoration Challenge

    More pictures after and during some work.
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    Gail Hester

  23. #73
    Hester Mandolins Gail Hester's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolincafe Restoration Challenge

    Please let me know if I've missed anything that you wanted to see or if you have questions.
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    Gail Hester

  24. #74
    acoustically inert F-2 Dave's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolincafe Restoration Challenge

    That top and bottom wood is beautiful. Nice work Gail. Looks like it'll be something to treasure.

  25. #75
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    Default Re: Mandolincafe Restoration Challenge

    That looks great, Gail. A very thorough evaluation and nice pictures, too. Email me when you are ready to send it on.

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