Mandolin Hospital

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   As a hobby, I have been involved in restoring old instruments, most of them mandolins, which I have recorded photographically. They have tended to be instruments that are of no significant monetary or historical value, though some were of great sentimental value to their owners. Hence these instruments were unlikely to see the insides of a professional luthier workshop. This hobby has now become almost a full time passion!!!

        I have presented the restoration work in several main areas for convenience. Photos are taken from work on over 500 instruments, and illustrate a few of the challenges, and some of the recurring problems with bowl-backs especially, but also with flat-back instruments. Hopefully, also they show some of the possible solutions.....

When I restore an instrument, I hope always to be able to bring it back to playability, thus, as one local luthier put it..... ' it back its soul'. 


Mandolin Triage: to diagnose what needs doing to your recently acquired or heirloom instrument. How serious is it? How hard to do? How expensive? Where can you get bits? Can you do it yourself?

All these photos are from mandolins that I have refurbished myself over the last few years. Many of the problems appear at first sight to be insurmountable, but with some forethought and a little assistance, wonders are possible... :)

Back: separation of back panels, back from sides and damage. Table: splits and deformations. Head: snapped joins, split heads and veneers. Finish:    varnish, French polish and dyes.
Neck:  warping, cracks, breaks and seating. Inlay:  edging, decoration and position markers. Tuners:  cleaning, repair, sizes, buttons. Frets: re-fretting and levelling frets.
Fingerboards:   shims and new boards. Veneer: renewing damaged head and neck veneer. Struts: broken, loose, too long, missing. Structural Failure: problems caused by shrinkage or string tension.
Tailpieces:  replacements Buttons:  replacements Bridges/Tensioners: repair, refitting Bridge building: