1949 Framus Black Rose Baby Deluxe Mandolin

This head-turner, with its red fretboard binding, deco inlays, cat's eyes soundholes, and fancy trim, is a "Black Rose Baby Deluxe" model mandolin, made by Framus in West Germany. While the archtop guitar version of the "Black Rose" can be found readily, these mandolins are far rarer. The owner says this one is early off the line, too, and probably a 1949 build rather than the more-common '50s versions of the same instrument.

In any case, it's a beaut and handles nicely. He was considering selling it and brought it up for consignment, but at the last minute decided to bring it home. Maybe it'll be back? I can't blame him, though -- it's really cool. At any rate, before he left, he let me snag a few photos. I didn't do any adjustment -- it needs a little compensation at the bridge, really, but it was otherwise setup nicely.

Handling-wise it feels a little like a Brazilian "bandolim" with its wider body shape and deeper sides. The cutaway is fantastic, though, and I have to admit that if I ever build a mandolin for myself -- or even an octave mandolin -- I might just have to steal this design style. The top is spruce while the back and sides appear to be ply maple. The fretboard and bridge are ebony.