I’m really pleased to have finished this arch-top mandolin. With a carved spruce top, three piece English walnut back and cantilevered fingerboard, it represents the first arch-top made to the same size and specs as my flat-tops. The flat back and carve top combination follows in the footsteps of some of my favourite British luthiers and the growing celtic mandolin tradition.
It is the prettiest new mandolin photographed in the grubbiest corner of my workshop – there are grand plans to reconcile this very soon!
I really enjoy the opportunity to get my teeth into a restoration project, and when this beautiful old arch-top Moreno guitar came up, I jumped at chance to take it to bits.
The back had a bad split, the neck was hanging off and underneath all the skin cheese on the fingerboard, it was in desperate need of a re-fret.
One of the nicer things about working on older instruments like this is that, sometimes rather than invasive work and power tools, all they really need is a little encouragement!
With that much play in the neck, all it took was a small amount of heat to get things moving in the right direction.
Its only really once you get an instrument back to its fundamental parts that you can really asses how much work will need to be done. Thankfully, apart from the originally spotted problems, this was one solid beast.
With decades of dust carefully removed, it was starting to look really promising. While the road-worn look has a certain charm to it, it is always really satisfying when you can get these old gents back to their original glory.
Unfortunately, at this point I got far too carried away with my work to remember to take any more photos. Having taken the fingerboard off to shoot the neck and discovering a beautiful piece of ebony lurking under all that crud and dust.
Once it was finished off with a nice replacement set of replica Golden-age machine heads and some lovely rich sounding flat-wound strings, it didn’t stay in the workshop long. It was quickly snapped up by a local guitar dealer, who had been after it since its arrival.
Cherry is one of my favourite woods to work with, particularly for choice of back and sides materials for mandolins. Whilst I firmly believe the design of the structure is foremost in creating any instruments voice, I like to think the choice of wood colours it. Cherry allows for nice crisp highs with a warmth you don’t get with a more traditional maple mandolin.