1920s Spanish Bandurria (Part Two)

I worked on this instrument back in 2017 but my fingers-crossed repair of last-time-around couldn't withstand the structural failures that this instrument was inherently built with. Oh well!

Its owner sent it back a year and a half ago and I procrastinated on it for a long time. Considering how much damage it had taken around the soundhole and seams and neck joint, I just felt unsure about what to do. One course of action would have me yank the back off and install a big support beam from endblock to neckblock. I started pulling the back and then stopped and reglued it because it would've meant a severe headache putting it back together because of the way it's made on the inside.

I decided to just bite the bullet and do the simplest thing I could think of and prepped the neckblock end endblock to accept two 1/2" hardwood dowels which I glued into both blocks under a bit of compression. After that I pulled-off the original bridge, reshaped it and refit its original saddle, and made a new "downpressure bar" from a scrap of carbon fiber I had in my stash as I'd removed the tieblock-style bridge which had afforded downpressure on the saddle in the past.

After restringing and a little adjustment to the setup, it plays spot-on and has the same sound I remember from before -- warm and sweet and projecting all at the same time. These are weird instruments, though, as its 10 3/4" scale length means the spacing of the frets is tighter even than the shortest-scale mandolin. It's really hard for me to play it without bending the strings out of tune from sideways pressure because of that short scale and the wide fretboard -- clearly I'm not holding it in correct positioning, but I'm not sure what that would be or even if I have the fingers to do it properly...!

In the video clip I have it tuned in pure fourths F#BEADG low to high, with the F# just a half-step below mandolin's G string and the G a step-and-a-half above mandolins high E. This is, apparently, standard tuning for the Philippines version of the instrument while the Spanish version is a full step higher (!) and "standard" is even higher than that.

At any rate, after a week of being tuned-up it stills seems to be happy. I'm hoping that this can be a lasting effort.

For those who haven't gone back to the original post -- I think this fella dates to the 1920s or 1930s and it has solid spruce over solid rosewood back and sides. The neck is mahogany but has odd, spruce neckblock and endblock construction.

Note the crazy structural fatigue and fill around the soundhole rosette and neck joint.

Strings are currently gauged 32w, 26w, 20w, 17, 13, 9 low to high.