French Mandolins

Here are instruments photos and videos from past restoration projects. It is a gallery only, for instruments available for sale please see page "Instruments for Sale"

Double Top Mandolin

Made by Rene Gerome

An interesting antique mandolin with double soundboard made by French Luthier Rene Gerome, possibly around 1930's

Mandolins back and sides are made of Beautifully Flamed Maple stained orange and close grained Spruce Soundboard(s), it has Ebony Fingerboard with 20 frets (plus zero fret), the Neck is made of one piece Maple stained brown as well as the bridge, the Armrest is made of Rosewood. The edging, pickguard inlay and position dots are possibly made of perloid.

 

Mandolin is fitted with new custom gauge Nickel wound Ernie Ball set of strings

 

G.032 – D.022 -A .013 – E.09

 

Instrument dimensions are as follows:

 

- total length 64.5cm - body width 23cm

- from zero fret to 12th fret 167.5mm (total scale length 335mm)

- Neck width at nut is 27.7mm, at 9th fret 35.1mm

Rene Gerome
Rene Gerome
Rene Gerome
Rene Gerome

Flat Back Mandolin

An unbranded mandolin very likely to be made in France as it's made in style of Jérôme Thibouville-Lamy

The Mandolin was in really bad condition, completely smashed. Before it could be repaired it had to be even more disassembled but slowly put together piece by piece it was brought back to life. It was possible to retain all original parts apart from frets that were too low to be reconditioned so modern narrow fret wire has been used. It is now fully playable instrument and for a sound sample see video below. Mandolin is fitted with Aquila Red Series set of strings.

French Mandolin
French Mandolin
French Mandolin
French Mandolin
French Mandolin

E. de Cristofaro

From the little sources available I've learned that Cristofaro built his mandolins in Naples (126 Via Vecchia Capodimante) and despite moving to France his workshop still remained there. Paris,12 Boulevard Saint Martin was possibly his shop address based in France where he would be selling his instruments, we can assume that his mandolins gained popularity there and living in France would allow him to get closely involved in trade. Absence of date of make on label would only let us estimate to usual 1900-1920's.

Cristofaro mandolins are surely eye catching with unique headstock, fancy pick-guard and “bird house” style sound-hole. Apart from look though and thanks to large body mandolin does sound very well with very good volume and rich, bright, sweet tone.

Mandolin was imported from France in very bad state, as you can see from video it required a lot of work to bring it back to life. Luckily the soundboard is healthy and did not have any cracks or splits, as there was no need to remove original finish all marks remain as part of it's previous life.

Restoration was mainly focused on the back which was badly damaged, bits of wood missing on the back, headstock, binding and armrest have all been replaced. Back and sides have been re-finished with light stain to bring more wood figure and French polished. Fretboard and frets were in very good condition only requiring some re-levelling and crowning. Tuners cleaned and polished to restore shine, missing buttons replaced, tuners now work nice and smoothly.

Original bridge had some damage therefore a replica with compensated bone was made to improve intonation.

As for playability, strings height at 12th fret is set to 1.9mm at treble side raising to 2.3mm on bass side providing comfortable playing action. Strings spread at nut is narrow therefore suitable for players who prefers such set up.

Recording in the video below was done in tuning FCGD, a tone lower than standard tuning which I feel works better on this mandolin and also puts less strain on the instrument.

Instruments measurements are as follows:

- total length 63cm - body width 21cm - body depth at cant 8.3cm

​- from nut to 12th fret 167mm (total scale length 334mm)

- Neck width at nut is 28.2mm, at 10th fret 38mm

Cristofaro Mandolin
Cristofaro Mandolin
Cristofaro Label
Cristofaro Mandolin
Cristofaro Mandolin