Lombardic Mandolin

Lombardic Mandolin (Mandolino Lombardo) also known as “Milanese” is an instrumnet from Mandolin family however varying grately from Neapolitan Mandolin. It's bowl is shallower and of half round shape, it's 2cm wider but length of body ramains simiar to standard bowl backed mandolin. Bowl is most commonly made of Fruit wood or Maple with number of ribs varying from 13 to 25. Neck is shorter but wider, usually has a scaloped fretboard with 19 to 21 frets and a scale length of 304mm  ( 152mm from 1st to 12th fret). Head of Lombardic mandolins is similar to a Baroque mandolin with viloin like peg box and wooden pegs oppositely of mechanical tuners. Instead of tailpiece strings are attached to a permamently glued bridge on soundboard where they are tied in a same way as strings on Lute/Baroque Mandolin. Bridge is usually made of Maple stained black to imitate Ebony (mandolin I was restoring has an addition of bone as string lenght had to be increased to improve intonation and to lower point at which string exit the hole to lower the action).


Lombardic Mandolins were originally strung with three gut strings and three copper wire wound on silk. Strings set used on mandolin I was restoring is an Aquila Brand set made of the following strings:

Nylgut mulitifilament core with copper wire winding G-1.6mm B-1.2mm

Nylgut E-0.97mm A-0.73mm D-0.58mm G-0.46mm


Traditional Lombardic tuning is GBEADG however high G is tuned to such high pitch that the string doesn't cope very well with that tension therefore I've lowered tunig by whole tone down to FADGCF while keeping same intervals between strings (music recorded on the video uses FADGCF tuning).


In a book from 1913 Manuale Teorico-pratico de Mandolinista, Agostini Pisani writes “Metal double strig Lombardo - Casini has also built this type of mandolin to remedy of inconvenience having strings break frequently. The fretboard is identical to that of Lombardic Mandolin but with 12 strings (6 double)”. The above suggestes that even 100 years ago strings struggeld to cope with such high tension therefore FADGCF is a good alternative tuning if gut/nylon strings are to be used.


Interestingly the above book also mentions “La Mandola Lombarda” in a list of instruments related to Lute and Mandolins. This means that Larger Lombardo also existed although possibly not many instruments like that were made and very few if any survied to these days.


Music for Lomabrdic Mandolin, I have not come across a music for this instrument other than duets for mandolin and piano therefore I wrote my own piece called “A Way Home”. It is written for tuning FADGCF and is played with fingers rather than a pick. I wrote it down on Guitar Pro so anyone interested please feel free to download a PDF copy of sheet music below (domestic use only, not to be distributed or used in public/online without consent).

Carlo Albertini

Fabricatore di Mandolini Lombardi

Via Gian-Giacomo Mora n.5


Date of make estimated between 1890 to 1900's

Mandolin has been kept in original condition apart from soundboard which had to be removed to repair number cracks and has been lightly finished in French Polish. Original bridge was missing therefore new one has been made following marks left by the old bridge.

Instrument dimensions are:

Total length - 55cm

Body - 21cm wide & 28 long & 10.5cm deep

Neck 39mm wide at nut & 50mm wide at 7th fret (where the neck meets body)

Lombardic Mandolin
Lombardic Mandolin
Lombardic Mandolin
Lombardic Mandolin
Lombardic Mandolin