1890s AC Fairbanks Model 120 Bowlback Mandolin

I like fancy mandolins! This one's a Boston-made AC Fairbanks and its model number (120) is on the back of the headstock. This looks an awful lot like a Vega-made product to me, but I suppose it could be a Fairbanks homebrew. I get pretty confused with their business arrangements around this time (this one's probably right around 1895).

It's a many-ribbed, high-grade bowlback and has some nice bling via purfling and inlay in the top and at the headstock. Its voice is sweet, clean, clear, loud, and has a lot of sustain. It's got bar frets and more-quality-than-usual tuners and engraved coverplates and an engraved tailpiece cover.

There was some funk to work around (loose braces, a displaced endblock/side seam issue), but now that it's done-up it's healthy and playing like a champ.

Repairs included: fret level/dress, hairline crack sealing (it'd already been cleated), two brace reglues, side dots install, bridge adjustments (bottom shim and mild compensation), internal reinforcement to endblock/top meeting area, restring, and setup.

Top wood: solid spruce

Back & sides wood: solid Brazilian rosewood

Bracing type: ladder, one angled brace

Bridge: ebony with bone

Fretboard: ebony

Neck wood: mahogany

Action height at 12th fret: 1/16" overall (hair-under treble, plays perfectly)
String gauges: 32w, 20w, 13, 9 low to high (go no heavier)

Neck shape: medium softened V

Board radius: flat

Neck relief: straight

Fret style: small-medium bar stock

Scale length: 13 1/4"

Nut width: 1 3/16"

Body width: 7 3/4"

Body depth: 5 1/2"

Weight: 1 lb 8 oz

Condition notes: it has a repaired hairline crack on the lower bout. There's mild usewear and finish wear throughout. It's all-original save that the bridge has a shim-foot added to it and the tailpiece "bit into" the neckblock area and the top/side seam next to it is a little disheveled. I've repaired that section, however, though you can see it in the pics.

The tailpiece tension had "crunched" the binding and section of top into the top of the endblock. I reinforced this area under the top and it's stable. Note also that missing "pins" for string-hanging have been replaced by tiny screws. The foam mutes the string-ends to damp overtones.