mandolin repair advice

mandolin repair advice

I’m in despair, as a huge mandolin craving is washing over me, but my instrument won’t play. I suspect a warped neck, as the humidity here varies widely. Yesterday it went from 26% to 45%, and last month it was a monsoon laden 96%.
Does anyone have any clever ideas about how to jury rig some sort of fix to make it at least playable? (This is a funky little town in the Himalayas, no chance whatsoever of a proper repair, so don’t just say ‘take it to so-an so in …’).
History of instrument- it is a Gibson A1 from I think around a hundred years ago or so. My Mum used to play it, and gave it to me before she died; and although I am a flute player, I took it up and found the tone to be very sweet. However, my lifestyle foibles have taken it around to far too many difficult places. Doesn’t stop me from wanting to be playing it. So hints, advices and commiseration gladly accepted.
Ferenji Nan

Re: mandolin repair advice

When you say it’s not playable, What do you mean? Does the instrument have a trus rod to your knowledge? If it has an adjustable one, you may be able to fix it that way.

Re: mandolin repair advice

It would be guesswork to try and work out what is wrong with it without more information or pictures. Is the neck more or less straight when you look along it from the machine head end? Maybe the strings are lying too flat against the fret board because the instrument top has sunk in, in which case you need to raise the bridge. Perhaps you can do this if the bridge has those little knurled thumb wheels on it to raise or lower it. If it’s a plain bridge you could add some height to it with a bit of ingenuity.

Re: mandolin repair advice

Those have fairly short necks, I can’t quite imagine it warping enough to make it unplayable. It may be that the glue softened, allowing the neck joint to shift. If you have no means to get it repaired the bridge idea might be your best option.

Re: mandolin repair advice

If it won’t play because the strings are hitting against the frets, then it’s likely in need of a bridge adjustment. If it doesn’t have an adjustable bridge, you can potentially shim the bridge up a bit, but I would recommend ordering an adjustable bridge. There can also be some nut adjustment to help too. You can shim a nut up a bit, if needed.

Here’s a video that talks a bit about adjustable bridges, solid bridges, and nut adjustment

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=21PlyVkQMl8

Re: mandolin repair advice

Rev: "I would recommend ordering an adjustable bridge."

But getting any kind of new bridge is no use unless you can get someone to fit it for you (or have the equipment and know-how to do it yourself). The chances of finding an off-the-shelf bridge that will fit the arch of a 100-year-old mandolin without any modification are very slim.

Re: mandolin repair advice

CreadurMawnOrganig, that’s true. I’ve done the fitting before by securing sandpaper on the top of an archtop mandolin, and then slowly working the bridge back and forth to shape the bottom of the bridge to the curvature of the top. It’s not an easy job, but if you’re in a small town in the Himalayas, that may be your best bet…

Re: mandolin repair advice

Exactly what is the problem?

If the strings are hitting the frets above where you are playing, it is possible that the top is cratering in. Gibson A-1 mandolins are pretty strong, but the tops are liable to be depressed as time goes on. If you suspect that the neck is bowed, just look down the neck from the headstock and that problem should be obvious. If the top is depressed, you can build your own higher bridge with simple tools (look up Red Henry mandolin bridge 0n google), tools that will be available where you are.

Without a good idea of what is going on, it is impossible to tell if there is an easy, if labor intensive, way to fix it. If the neck is bowed, you can fix it if you have the testosterone to do so with heat and pressure but you are liable to cause more problems.

Humidity will cause a difference in the height of the action, the more humidity, the higher the action on a standard instrument because everything is swelled up, the opposite true with dry atmosphere.

I have an A-2 and love it. Mine is pre truss rod and holdin up well, but since these were popular and affordable instruments in their time, they were often abused a lot with subsequent issues later on. by "abuse" I mean that they were often ignored or left in an attic, under a bed, in a barn, etc. and not played. The results could be bad for the instrument. Very often they dry out and the glue joints fail, especially the braces and seams.

Good luck with improving your mandolin
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Mike Keyes

Re: mandolin repair advice

Himalayas are in USA?

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