1983 Do Souto (Brazil-made) Portuguese-style Mandolin




Do Souto bandolims (read as: Brazil-speak for mandolins) of Rio De Janeiro are somewhat well-known because the famous player, Jacob do Bandolim, used one made by the workshop's founder for most of his career. They're built along the lines of Portuguese-made mandolins with a wide, teardrop-shaped body (a lot of modern UK-made instruments share a similar look, too), "domed" over bracing top design, curvy and flexed sides and back, radiused fretboard, and slim, quick neck.

These features add-up to a super-playable, zingy and snappy, sustained voice that keeps on giving more snap and edge the heavier you bear into it. It's not bright, per se, but it slices right through a mix despite its general "fullness" of tone. I guess you could say it has sparkle and chime, but in the same way a gypsy-jazz guitar might sparkle when you hit it with some energy. It's got pep!

This one is all-original save strap-button additions and some shimmed-up bridge feet (both my own additions), and arrived via trade mostly in good order. Now that I've gone over it, it plays bang-on-the-dot and happily dishes-out the sound. I think these guys will work for any genre you can think of except straight-up bluegrass. They sound superb for old-time/Celtic-style stuff as their general sparkle lifts the tunes just a little bit more compared to the average US-style flatback build which tends towards darker/mellower.

Repairs included: a fret level/dress, light compensation at the bridge and shim-up feet fit to the bottom of it, cleaning, a restring, and setup.

Setup notes: the neck is straight and it plays fast and quick with hair-under 1/16" treble and 1/16" bass action at the 12th fret. I have it strung with 32w-9 GHS A240 strings, but I'm sure it could take 34w-10 if need be -- though the lighter gauges sound great on it and have plenty of volume.

Scale length: 13 3/4"
Nut width: 1 1/8"
String spacing at nut: 1"
String spacing at bridge: 1 1/2"
Body length: 12 1/2"
Lower bout width: 11 1/2"
Side depth at endpin: 2 3/8"
Top wood: solid spruce(?)
Back/sides wood: solid rosewood
Bracing type: ladder
Fretboard: rosewood
Bridge: bone, lightly compensated
Neck feel: slim C-shape, ~10" board radius

Condition notes: it's all-original save the bridge-foot shims and two strap buttons. The finish is relatively clean (save for a reglued backstrip) and it's crack-free throughout. The top has aged to a nice, buttery-yellow-orange color, too.













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