This page is dedicated to Mandolins made by Vinaccia Family
It contains photos and videos of mandolins that have been restored followed by few articles found in old books and a newspeaper
Antique Italian Mandolin
A mandolin made the the very important figure in mandolin history – Pasquale Vinaccia – restored to fully playable condition and kept in original state.
Pasquale Vinaccia has greatly improved the mandolin in his times by building instrument that can withstand steel strings, introduced mechanical tuners, raised and extended the fretboard. Appointed by the Queen of Italy his mandolins became a standard for instrument making in Golden Age of Mandolin.
Mandolin was in rather average state and was a victim of poorly exercised repairs therefore maintaining original state was here much more challenging. Wood filler that was applied to cover splits/gaps between ribs was carefully removed and soundboard lifted in order to allow positioning ribs back in place. Also a lot of wood filler was spread on soundboard to cover missing binding which has been replaced completely.
Soundboard was in good condition with one hairline split near fretboard – now repaired and supported by original plate that was re-glued back in place.
Finish at back and neck is mostly original, in some places had to be re-applied after dealing with wood filler. Soundboard was lightly cleaned and finished in way to follow the all over “old” appearance.
Fretboard has been cleaned and original frets were high enough to be levelled and crowned.
Work on tuners was focused mainly to get them to work smoothly rather than renewing them.
As bridge was missing, a new one was made based on photos from other Pasquale Vinaccia mandolins that still had original one. Mandolin is fitted with Elixir 10.34 set of strings
Instrument dimensions are as follows:
- total length 61.5cm - body width 19.2cm - from nut to 12th fret 168mm (total scale length 336mm)
- Neck width at nut is 31.2mm, at 10th fret 40mm
Mandolin with Orchestra (play along)
Fratelli Gennaro ed Achille Vinaccia
Rua Catalana 53, Napoli, Italia 1890
A bowl backed mandolin made by the most important family in mandolin history, who were making string instruments at Rua Catalana, Napoli since 1750's and whom are believed to develop the steel string mandolin. This mandolin has been imported to the UK by Keith, Prowse & Co. London 48 Cheapside, it is an early instrument made by two brothers Gennaro and Achille dated 1890 in very good condition for it's age. It has no splits to bowl, no splits or cracks to soundboard, has original finish apart from top where it was refinished with light coat of shellac. It is structurally sound but has wear signs and marks as you'd expect form instrument that is nearly 130 years old.
As the fretboard was quite thin which is usual for instrument from that period I decided to replace it with a thicker one that much improved the gap between strings and top which allows for confident picking without worrying of hitting the pickguard. Also it benefited from new modern frets that helps playing cleanly as well as low and comfortable action. The fretboard itself is a Rosewood
Mandolin is fitted with Calace Dogal RW92B soft tension strings.
Approximate measurements are as follows:
- total length 60cm, - body width 19.5cm, - from nut to 12th fret 165mm (total scale length 330mm), -Neck width at nut is 29.7mm, at 10th fret 37.8mm
Fratelli Gennaro ed Achille Vinaccia
A mandolin form one of the most important family in mandolin history, made in year 1888 in Napoli at the address Rua Catalana N.53 where instruments were made since 1750's.
The bowl has 19 ribs made of beautiful figured Maple (or Sycamore) with added dark wood side slats. Finish was in good condition and only required light touch up with shellac. As the fretboard has been replaced in previous years it is possible that it could have been refinished as well so the originality of the finish is unclear. Mandolin has no cracks, splits or any other signs of previous repairs (apart from aforementioned fretboard replacement) and is in very good condition. Fretboard was replaced possibly as to upgrade to concert size with 25 frets. The frets had been levelled, crowned and dressed. The soundboard is made of high quality spruce that was only lightly cleaned and finished with two thin coats of oil finish for protection. It has original tortoise shell pickguard, sound hole as well as dot bridge position indicators and bridge itself are decorated with mother of pearl. It has enclosed tuners with bone pegs working fine after being cleaned and lubed. The tail piece is made of four bone pins and metal edge plate.
Mandolin measurements are:
- total length 59.3cm - width at cant 19.8cm - nut to 12th fret 167.5mm
- Neck width at nut 30.1mm, at 10th fret 38mm
Very little is known about Giuseppe Vinaccia unfortunately, possibly he was a son of Gaetano Vinaccia. Having seen few labels it appears as Giuseppe changed workshop address quite often, workshop address at the time this mandolin has been made was Via Taverna Penta 59, Napoli (date is illegible 189? though other labels have date 1899 at this address). Other known addresses were Corso Vittorio Emanuele 466 (1890) No.9 Santa Maria a Lanzata Foria, Via Giuseppe Mancinelli 45 (1898), Salita Arenella 66 (1896).
Mandolin required a lot of work to bring it back to life including new fretboard to improve playability. As per request mandolin has been customised for a left handed players.
Strings fitted – Fisoma F3010 light gauge set.
MANUALE TEORICO-PRATICO DEL MANDOLINISTA
EDITORE-LIBRAIO DELLA REAL CASA
(rough translation from Italian to English)
The inventor of the plectrum instruments, a steel strings, and a brief history Casa Vinaccia and on the origins of the Neapolitan mandolin,The history of the mandolin in his origins is shrouded in darkness: publications on tools and dictionaries musicals from the 8th century and early ages of the present century contain on that topic very little news, so it is difficult to trace facts safe and salient. The origin of the Neapolitan mandolin it dates back to the middle of the 17 century: at this time it seems to have begun his famous mandolin production Casa Vinaccia, of which also in today honor and fame are kept high by successors, in kinship, who continued the art of ancestors, increasingly perfecting it. The first built mandolins had gut strings and wooden keys, and the keyboard reached up to the high king only. But such mandolins must be very few have been manufactured, and without take care to put the label on it factory and date those I have could see in museums and antique dealers of Florence and who carry the label, they all have the date between 1750 and the 1800. The keyboard (fingerboard) remains short up to 14 and 15 key only in some instruments made by the Marc Gaetano and Vincenzo in 1770-1779; therefore on the same date and of the same manufacturers have mandolins whose keyboard reaches La (A) as it is in mandolins modern. In the aforementioned period they produced in Naples good mandolins the factories of Antonio Vinaccia and his sons Giovanni, Vincenzo, Gennaro and Gaetano, of Fabricatore G. B., Fabricatore Gennaro, Donato Filano: all these architects worked between 1720 and 1817. These mandolins carry inside of the case a printed label following wordings: Antonius Vinaccia filius Januarii fecit. Neapolis to the Rua Catalana Street, year 1764. Vincenzo Vinaccia made the descent of the Ospedaletto. Neapoli, n. 20, year 1776. Gajetanus fecit marc. Neapoli, Strada Rua Catalana, n. 85, year 1779. Donatus Filano fecit. Neapoli, year domains 1765. Jn. Battista Fabricatore fecit. Year 1784 in S. M. -of the Help, Naples. Gennaro Fabricatorefecit. Neapoli, year 1793, Strada S. Giacomo, n. 37. The mandolins of Vinaccia and the Fabricatori of the mentioned period (1750-1800) are almost all rich in inlays, ivory threads along the handle in ebony, executed with remarkable precision: ebony scoop, ebony pegs, fairly regular ebony keyboard discreetly intoned. The cash at 15 or 20 fleshed sticks, it is made of wood very thin and light (red maple), painted with rather coarse paint However. It is due to Pasquale Vinaccia the application of steel ropes (strings) in replacement of used brass ones primitively and that they lacked voice and of Argentine stamp, and to Pasquale Vinaccia also owes its invention to the mechanics for support and movement of the strings, now universally used for the Neapolitan system mandolins, widely also for guitars. I said that the Casa Vinaccia maintains still his fame: the current ones artists lords Achille and Vinaccia, from about twenty years, they are building mandolins of such perfection that it did not come reached so far by other manufacturers. They are true artists: in the examination of one instrument built by them, in the most minutes details you can see perfection: recently saw a mandolin of 14 years ago, that is to say built by Vinaccia in 1884, and that is a true masterpiece. The pitch of the keyboard is in the mandolins Today's marc, taken to the maximum perfectibility; so too the construction of the case, the painting, the conjuncture of the splints and stability of the harmonic plane. Add the works of inlay and ornament of which is shown off in the instruments type of luxury, and it will be worthwhile to recognize that the Vinaccia factory is worthy of admiration under every relationship. They left the Vinaccia factory also of the students (eg Maratea,Esposito, etc.) that, if they do not reach the perfection of the unreachable masters, they also excel over others in various ways dowries, which reveal the teaching received and practiced with art teaching. The Marc export instruments in England, in France and especially in America. The factory production is calculated 30 instruments per month among mandolins and guitars. The questions that come to the house they are far greater than production, and a well-known merchant of tools he told me that the Marcas accept now the orders with the faculty to deliver them six months later. This highly back to the honor of Vinaccia: they want the tool to come out worked and perfected by their own hands; few workers are employed in their factory for construction of minor parts. So do true artists, those who intend to keep the celebrity of name, increasingly high and bright.
Guitar and Mandoline
PHILIP J. BONE
Augner Ltd. London 1914
Munier inherited his profound love of the mandolin from his ancestors who were engaged in its construction and improvement for more than a century, and figuratively speaking, he was born with a mandolin in his hands. He was grand nephew of the celebrated Pasquale Vinaccia of Naples, the perfector of the modern Italian mandolin. The name of Vinaccia is emblazoned amongst the most exhalted of the world's stringed instrument makers, and it was the inventive genius of this member of the family—born July 20, 1806 in Naples, and died there in 1882—that gave the instrument its steel strings and consequent machine head, who extended the compass of its fingerboard and enlarged and improved the tonal capabilities and qualities of the instrument. Previous to this date, the mandolin was of smaller dimensions, its sound hole was circular, similar to that of the guitar, the bridge was a short narrow strip of ivory, and the body was rather smaller, being composed of from fifteen to twenty narrow fluted ribs. Its strings were of gut, similar to those of the violin ; they were tuned in pairs by ebony, or ivory pegs, and the compass of the instrument was very limited, the fingerboard possessing usually twelve frets. The instruments of this period were decorated elaborately, their necks being veneered with tortoiseshell inlaid with strips of ivory, and a triangular design in tortoiseshell and pearl was inlaid on the table between the bridge and tailpins. The mandolin of to-day is the legacy of Pasquale Vinaccia, whose portrait is reproduced, and Munier was grandnephew of this instrument maker and nephew of the celebrated present day mandolin makers, the brothers Gennaro and Achille Vinaccia who are honoured by the royal appointment of mandolin makers to the Court of Italy.