Mandolin Hospital

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   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's workshop. 

        I have presented the restoration work in several main areas for convenience. Photos are taken from work on over 200 instruments, and illustrate a few of the challenges, and some of the recurring problems with bowl-backs especially, but also with flatbacks. Hope fully 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..... '......giving it back its soul'. 

 

Mandolin Triage: 

....how 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?

How To Section:

It occurred to me that there are a few general skills that it would be useful to share for those not expert in woodworking. Some of these sections will be new, others cunningly hidden away in another section of mandolin hospital.

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, esp. in centrally heated houses.
Tailpieces:   Buttons:   Bridges/Tensioners: Bridge building