1917 Weymann Style 15 Mandolute Mandolin

Update 2019: I originally sold this back in 2013, but the owner upgraded to a Larson flatback and now this Weymann is available. I've completely updated the blog post with new pics, a video, and new text.

Weymann products are nice-quality and were built in Philadelphia, PA. This was their basic mandolin at the time but it's a lot nicer than your average flatback for the mid-teens. While most of the Mandolute line features "violin-style" raised edges, this one has flat edges like most instruments. It still has the Mandolute design features, however, including a severely tapered body shape (swelling around the bridge front-to-back and then contracting at the neckblock and tailpiece), bent-over-the-braces arched shape, and high-quality fittings.

Their tone is interesting -- it's quite-midsy but has excellent sustain, clarity, and an overall sweet voicing. These are not the typical "tubby flatback" you expect of the teens and '20s -- it's more like a good bowlback mandolin in response. They work well for Celtic-style playing and quieter old-time sessions but are not poppy or punchy-enough for rowdy affairs. The player also doesn't hear as much of the sound of these instruments as the audience does. The sound goes out. It can be a little disconcerting but this makes perfect sense for the period application of these instruments -- they were intended for mandolin ensembles and orchestras where the voice was supposed to mesh with others as a whole.

The serial number at the headstock's top edge corresponds to 1917 per modern Weymann serial charts.

Work included: previous seam repairs and a new, compensated bone bridge, two new hairline crack fills (there's enough bracing that they don't need cleats) to the top below the bridge, a fret level/dress, side-dots install, newer bone nut, and setup with 32w-9 gauges. The neck is straight, the frets have some life left in them (but they're the usual tiny original frets), and it plays with spot-on 1/16" action at the 12th fret.

Scale length: 13 7/16"
Nut width: 1 1/8"
String spacing at nut: 1"
String spacing at saddle: 1 5/8"
Body length: 12 1/2"
Body width: 9"
Side depth overall: 1 3/4" to 3"
Neck wood: mahogany
Top wood: solid spruce
Back/sides wood: solid maple
Fretboard: ebonized maple
Neck shape: flat board, medium C/D rear
Bridge: replacement bone, fully-compensated
Nut: replacement bone

Condition notes: two repaired hairline cracks in the lower-bout top, general usewear, replacement nut, bridge, and older (1930s) replacement tailpiece. Otherwise it's all-original. Note also that when the tuners were installed at the factory, the holes were a little overdrilled on a few shafts. It's odd but poses no issue.

It comes with: a Tacoma mandolin gigbag.

I love that rosewood veneer at the headstock and the aluminum-buttoned tuners.

The board has pearl dots.

The pickguard is set-into the top and is tortoise celluloid.

I was making new bone bridges for mandolins at the time (2013) and I like the fast response and clear tone you get from them. They're also durable.


Anonymous said…
I have a similar Weymann Mandolute and love it. Very sweet sound, which as you said is perfect for Celtic music.
Bob said…
Looks sweet, Jake... how would you say this compares in tone and volume with the Stromberg Voisinet I bought from you last year?

Its rubber-sealed tuners and perched-on-the-canted-top bridge have gotten a bit finicky with a lot of playing. I still like it, but use my Eastman to be more audible and fuss less with tuning in unmiked 15-person oldtime jams.

The Weymann looks and sounds like it might be lovely in duets or small Irish sessions.