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Lombardic Mandolin

Lombardic Mandolin (Mandolino Lombardo) also known as “Milanese” is an instrument from Mandolin family however varying greatly from Neapolitan Mandolin. It's bowl is shallower and of half round shape, it's 2cm wider but length of body remains similar 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 scalloped 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 violin like peg box and wooden pegs oppositely of mechanical tuners. Instead of tailpiece strings are attached to a permanently 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 length 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 tuning 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 suggests that even 100 years ago strings struggled 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 survived 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
Milano

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)
 

Carlo Albertini
Carlo Albertini
Carlo Albertini Label
Carlo Albertini
Carlo Albertini


Carlo Albertini e Figlio
Fabricatori di Mandolini Lombardi
Mandole e Chitarre
Vicolo S.Vito 3 Milano


Antique Lombardic Mandolin labelled Carlo Albertini e Figlio, Fabricatori di Mandolini Lombardi, Mandole e Chitarre, Vicolo S. Vito 3 Milano. Date of make can be estimated between 1890 to 1900's.
Mandolin is restored to fully playable condition, it has been kept in original antique state with original parts apart from a fretboard which was beyond repair therefore replaced with new one made of Ebony, and so is new nut. 

 

Mandolin is fitted with a new set of strings – custom made by Aquila 
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 

Restoration included: replacing fretboard, replacing nut, repairing splits between ribs, repairing splits to soundboard (adding re-enforcing patches from below), replacing armrest at tail, adding a light coat of shellac throughout.
Mandolin specification:
Soundboard – Solid Spruce with wooden pick-guard 
Bowl –11 maple or cherry wood ribs & 2 side slats
Neck – Round shaped, made of maple 
Fretboard – New rosewood with MOP inlay 
Nut – new ebony
Bridge – original, possibly maple stained dark-brown 
Frets – 20 1.1mm crown width, Japanese Nickel-silver

Instruments measurements are as follows:
- total length 56cm  - body width 22cm  - body depth 11cm
- from nut fret to 12th fret 150mm (total scale length 300mm)
- Neck width at nut is 41.3mm, at body merge 47.5mm

 

Lombardic Mandolin
Lombardic Mandolin
Lombardic Mandolin
Lombardic Mandolin
Lombardic Mandolin
Lombardic Mandolin

BRATTI & Co

Firenze, Anno 1889

 

Antique Lombardic Mandolin labelled Bratti & Co, Premiata Fabbrica di Strumenti a Corda e Corde Armoniche, Via Dei Mortelli 7, Firenze, dated 1889.

Mandolin is restored to fully playable condition, it has been kept in original antique state with original parts.

 

Mandolin is fitted with a new set of strings – custom made by Aquila

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

Restoration included: reconditioning of frets and fretboard, repairing splits to soundboard (adding re-enforcing patches from below), lowering bridge to improve action, adding a light coat of shellac to soundboard only.

Mandolin specification:

Soundboard – Solid Spruce with rosewood pick-guard

Bowl –11 maple & fruit wood ribs & 2 side slats

Neck – Round shaped, made of maple and stained black

Fretboard – original, scalloped ebony

Nut – original bone

Bridge – original, rosewood

Frets – original 20 flat bar, possibly Nickel-silver


 

Instruments measurements are as follows:

- total length 54.5cm    - body width 22cm   - body depth 11cm

- from nut fret to 12th fret 150mm (total scale length 300mm)

- Neck width at nut is 37.7mm, at body merge 45.8mm

Bratti & Co
Bratti & Co
Bratti & Co Label
Bratti & Co
Bratti & Co
Bratti & Co
Bratti & Co
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