1890s Regal-made Montgomery Ward Mandolinetto

Mandolinettos (guitar-shaped mandolins) aren't extraordinarily rare, but they are uncommon. This one is obviously of nice quality with a carefully-trimmed body and sporting good materials -- an ebony fretboard and bridge, Brazilian rosewood back and sides, mahogany neck, and spruce top. It's also obviously been cared-for over the years, as it's definitely not as beat-up as it could be. I'm pretty sure this was made by Regal, though definitely before they made the move to Chicago from Indianapolis (up to 1904).

A customer brought this in and my work included a brace reglue, "popsicle brace" reinforcement under the fretboard extension area, a very light fret level/dress, and general cleaning and setup. It plays perfectly, has a 13" scale and, like other mandolinettos, a voice that's a lot more powerful and "full" than you'd expect from its diminutive size. Part of that, of course, is that it has a bit of extra airspace due to the deeper sides.

Pretty, huh?

The headstock has the usual Regal "dipped" shape, an ebony nut, and a rosewood headstock veneer.

As usual for the time, the frets are tiny and this one was played, so they had a bit of wear. I "did my best" for them but couldn't level all the divots perfectly-out as there wouldn't be any frets left if I did.

Note, also, the hairline crack next to the fretboard extension. The "pinched" shoulders mean this joint would've been prone to shifting if I hadn't added a popsicle brace under the top, there, as well. I make mine a little thicker and shove them right up next to the neck block for repairs-purposes to act like an extension of the block and thus take some compression off of the top itself.

The trim is gorgeous, huh? I love half-herringbone purfling.

I compensated the original ebony bridge as best as I could.

These are the same 32w-9 GHS A240 pack of strings that I use on all period mandolins save carved-top models, which can usually take a bit more tension.

The nickel-plated brass "shell" tailpiece is lovely.

The tuners are a little fussy but work well-enough.

The blue/white Wards label in the soundhole is pretty cute.


Unknown said…
I have one of these that is the exact same. What does something like this retail as?
Unknown said…
Nice to see my mandolinetto on your blog! The work you did is holding up great! Thanks!
Andy VonWinge said…
I recently purchased one of these at estate sale. Would like it brought up to shape. Has dark Rosewood back and sides.