Mandola & Liuto

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"

Liuto Cantabile

Luigi Poppi

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Liuto Cantabile, Liuto Moderno is a rather rare mandolin family instrument and certainly very few survived to these days. This particular one was made by Luigi Poppi in Palermo sometime early 1900's or possibly even earlier. Whereas scale/dimensions of mandolins kept some standards, Luthiers had their own interpretations of Liuto therefore scale size and dimensions varied between makers. Who exactly invented this type of instrument is unclear as some sources point at Vinaccia, other at Calace (thought to have invented it around 1880's). Such type of mandolin surely must have already existed for some time before Calace, Vinaccia, Embergher, Poppi had made their own version of Liuto however it is Raffaele Calace who have mastered the liuto and promoted it as solo instrument.


 

This Liuto made by Poppi resembles style of De Meglio mandolins with pickguard glued on top of soundboard, tulip-wood binding and three holes on each side of bowl. General construction of Liuto remains same as mandolins though with only difference where mandolins top was made from two pieces of spruce wood here soundboard is made of 6 pieces of Spruce. Dimensions of this liuto are 93cm total length, 31cm width of body at cant and 39cm body length, bowl is 20cm deep. Liuto is tuned an octave lower than Mandola with extra double course E so tuned in C G D A E. Just as mandolin, liuto has 17 frets but scale length of 542mm ( 271mm from nut to 12th fret). Neck width at nut is 4.1cm and 5.2cm where the neck meets body. Tuners on this liuto are quite unusual and possibly made to order just for liutos.

For stringing I have used D'Addario phosphor-bronze strings with following gauges C-.056 , G-.046 , D-.032 , A-.022 , E-.012

For sound sample see video below.

Antique Mandola

Max Lederer

Who was Max Lederer I could not find exactly, craftsmanship of this instrument suggests it was one off rather than mass produced Mandola. A stamp was covered with a paper lining, possibly glued over it while carrying repairs to the back in the past. Stamp reads Max Lederer, Zupfinstrumentenbauer (maker of plucked instruments), rest is illegible. Date of make could probably be estimated as 1910-30's, mandola has type of tuners found on older Italian mandolins from early 1900's but these could have been replaced at some point. Instrument was in a quite rough state and it is unclear whether it was poorly made, poorly repaired or both. All over craftsmanship appears to be quite messy starting with badly settled tuners, two layer fretboard (unless this was due to repair), bad neck angle tilted to the bass side, badly cut neck pocket, inside linings and back liner strips holding ribs were all over the place, heel block looks like a piece taken off some furniture, side end strip and tailpiece way off the centre, soundboard S holes weirdly position close together in the middle and obviously destined to fail under tension.

I did not have much hope for this instrument however as it was quite unusual and rare I decided to give it a try and to bring it to a playable state. Top and neck had to be removed to correct the angle and to create more space to repair all splits at the back. Mandola has now one piece rosewood fretboard, soundboard received one additional bar to support the middle part between S holes, missing wood on treble side S hole replaced. Tuners unfortunately had to stay in place as there's no way of moving them anywhere, new bridge and nut had to be made. Old finish completely stripped, then stained to recreate original colours and re-finished with tru oil.

It may sound though as the usual work had to be done, it was really frustratingly tough to correct all the bad work. Luckily all the hard work paid off and it is a real pleasure to play on the mandola. Large chamber creates a deep, mellow, sweet tone, it is very responsive and even light stroke produces a strong tone. Music recorded as a sound sample was a piece written on this very mandola, both solo and accompaniment recorded on same instrument – see video below.

Instruments measurements are as follows:

- total length 76cm

  • body width 22 - 33cm

  • body length 42cm

- body depth 10cm

​- from nut to 12th fret 215mm (total scale length 430mm)

- Neck width at nut is 32mm, at 10th fret 46mm

Strings fitted – D'Addario Monel EJM75C 11-41 (treated as ultra light Mandola set)

Max Lederer
Max Lederer
Max Lederer
Max Lederer
Max Lederer

Antique Bowl-backed Mandola

An antique bowl-backed Mandola fully restored to playable condition. Although there's no indication who made the instrument it is most likely to be of German origin as marquetry inlaid pickguard was very popular way of ornamenting instruments there. The age of Mandola is estimated to be around 90 years old with anything between 1920's-30's

In brief, Mandola is bigger sister of mandolin with tuning CGDA with body usually larger around 10-15cm (total length) than mandolin. As mandola wasn't as popular as mandolin they are rarely available and hard to find therefore it was a pleasure bringing it back to life.

 

Approximate measurements are as follows:

 

- total length 73cm

- body width 24.5cm

- from nut to 12th fret 215mm (total scale length 430mm)

  • Neck width at nut is 31.5mm, at 10th fret 42mm

Antique Mandola
Antique Mandola
Antique Mandola
Antique Mandola
Antique Mandola

Antique Bowl-backed Mandola

Dreima*

*Dreima - E.A. Dreier aus Markneukirchen - Musikinstrumenten-Bestandteile-Fabrik

 

An antique bowl-backed Mandola fully restored to playable condition. The instrument doesn't have a label and the brand named on engraving on tailpiece - Dreima was a Music Instrument Hardware Factory based in Markneukirchen - Mentioned in the World Addressbook 1926 and 1930.

The Mandola is made in style of Embergher mandolins which was a popular style that German makers had often copied. The age of Mandola is estimated to be around 90 years old with anything between 1920's-30's

As it's original old appearance has good aesthetic value I've retained it's antique look as much as possible – original finish has been lightly cleaned and covered with a thin layer of new finish to re-fresh the surface. This way instrument can be enjoyed with antique look while fully playable.

 

Mandola is fitted with new set of strings – D'addario set EJS74
 

Instrument dimensions are as follows:

- total length 72cm

- body width 24cm

- from nut to 12th fret 198.5mm (total scale length 397mm)

  • Neck width at nut is 34mm, at 10th fret 42.8mm

Antique Mandola
Antique Mandola
Antique Mandola
Antique Mandola
Antique Mandola

Old German Bowl-backed Mandola

Marcelli*

An old bowl-backed Mandola fully restored to playable condition. The instrument doesn't have a label and the only indication of maker is an engraving on tailpiece – Marcelli (*which possibly is just brand of hardware rather than instrument builder). The age of Mandola is hard to estimate as it may have been made pre-2nd WW but may as well be post WW in 50-60's. It is made in a bit more modern style and has very large bowl compared to other mandolas I worked on. The bowl is made of maple stained brown with 22 ribs. The scale length is standard 210mm from 0-12th and 420mm from 0 fret to bridge.


Mandola measurements are:

 

- total length 75cm - body width 26cm - bowl depth 18cm

- from zero fret to 12th fret 210mm (total scale length 420mm)

- Neck width at nut is 34.4mm, at 10th fret 46.2mm

Old Bowl-Back Mandola
Old Bowl-Back Mandola
Old Bowl-Back Mandola
Old Bowl-Back Mandola
Old Bowl-Back Mandola