This poor mandolin had been previously repaired (poorly) and was threatening to collapse in on itself. If not for our drastic measures, I doubt we’d be hearing any music from this elderly bowl-back ever again.
Take a gander at the above photo. You’ll see on the left a few dowels I’d already set into the body, filling in excess holes drilled during a previous tailpiece reset; on the right are more holes to be doweled and glued. There are also numerous cracks on the body that require attention, and what you can’t see of the top also has its fair share of worrying stress marks. At first, John and I weren’t even sure that the block underneath the tailpiece had survived, but luckily enough, it did. Binding had been compressed and squeezed out of place by string tension on the butt-end of the mandolin.
From time to time an instrument’s condition will beg the question, “Is it worth saving?” That’s a sad reality for us, and I’m sorry to say that yes, we asked this quite a few times. It was never going to be a big-ticket item, of course, but what encourages me about Leading Tone is that even though we are a business, first and foremost we are enthusiasts- that is, we adore all instruments, and we each create, enjoy and love music. It’s the best thing ever! There’s more to this venture for us than simple profit margins. We’re about the stewardship of any and all instruments that cross paths with us, and this aching mando was no exception!
When gluing and the appropriate curing period had come and gone, the body seemed stable and intact. Luckily, the tailpiece covered all of the unsightly, extra holes.
I decided to deep-clean the body for good measure, and was rewarded with this amusing portrait. Ah, good times! Even now, I’m trying not to giggle while that picture hovers above my indecisive words.
Strung and tuned to pitch, this is one of the sweetest sounding bowl-backs I’ve yet heard, and its action is low and silky. Plays like a dream, it does. If you’re ever at the shop, have a look-see! Give ‘er a strum and a pick, she’ll ma’ ye happy, I tells ye!
I’ll end this before I descend even further in to piratey language and syntax errors.