Old mandolin unknown fret size

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ka_who
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Old mandolin unknown fret size

Post by ka_who » Sun Jul 19, 2020 12:31 am

Hi, I recently purchased this mandolin from a charity shop for 550$ (I thought I strike a good deal as they asked for 990 and I talk them down to 550) anyways the manager said it was 1900 something brothers mandolin but when I bring it home I realized it was WmcStahl from Milwaukee. I never saw a mandolin before so I wasn't sure what I have to look for (I was thought I was buying a banjo then I realized banjo is bigger and rounded) I have changed the strings with light guitar strings for now until new strings arrive and I'm thinking about changing the frets as you can see they petty much gone. I'm wondering if anybody has any information about the correct fret size for these instruments and how hart it is to remove them. I never don it before but watched 100houvers on youtube during the last couple of years and I'm very good with mechanical things and fixing stuff. I leveled a couple of my guitars with simple tools like sandpaper and files and they turned OK.
the thickness of the frets is around 1mm and I Masure the hight couple of times and it's about .6 mm
Any help appreciated
Thanks
KaWho
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Mark McLean
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Re: Old mandolin unknown fret size

Post by Mark McLean » Sun Jul 19, 2020 10:05 am

What a lovely find. The seller was probably talking to you about it being made by Larson Brothers, which would make it a very high quality and desirable instrument. Stahl was a retailer, not a manufacturer (despite the claim that they put on their label) and they sourced their instruments from various factories. The cheaper ones were made by Regal and some high end ones were made by Larson Brothers, for whose instruments there is now a lot of reverence. The trick is that it was never indicated on any labelling or marks on the instrument - so you don’t actually know who made your one. But that is a very high end mando, judging by the decorative elements such as the engraved tuner buttons and the very nice inlays. Almost certainly Brazilian rosewood. You see these things selling online for upwards of a grand in $US, so you got it for a good price if it is in playable condition.

It certainly looks like it needs a fret job. It is not a simple DIY job, especially on a bound fretboard. You will need specialized tools including fret puller and clipper, something to trim the tangs (a dedicated tool for this does it best) and a good fret hammer or pressing tool. Then beams to level and a full range of polishing materials. Maybe you feel confident to to that - but if this is your first go at it you might want to invest in a professional job for this valuable instrument.
Is it otherwise in good condition? And where did you find it? Do they have any other cool stuff hanging on the wall in that shop?
Peter and Graham are our resident mandolin experts and I am sure they will wander by with an opinion soon.

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peter.coombe
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Re: Old mandolin unknown fret size

Post by peter.coombe » Sun Jul 19, 2020 10:35 am

Nice find. Yep, needs a refret but as already said, is a trickier job with a bound fretboard, and specialized tools are needed. I use Dunlop 6320 fretwire on all my mandolins. The specs are on the Dunlop web site.

These old bowlback mandolins are very lightly built and are designed for very light strings. Take those guitar strings off right now. The most common problem with bowlback mandolins is a bent neck and/or movement of the neck block caused by strings that are too heavy. This is a difficult repair so most of them end up as wall hangers. You are asking for trouble with light guitar strings. You need ultra light mandolin strings. The only sets I know of that are suitable are GHS Classical Extra Light 9-32. I get them from juststrings.com. Normal modern mandolin strings are not suitable and will cause damage.
Peter Coombe - mandolin, mandola and guitar maker
http://www.petercoombe.com

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ka_who
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Re: Old mandolin unknown fret size

Post by ka_who » Sun Jul 19, 2020 7:01 pm

Hi guys, thanks for your reply and advice. I bought this one from st vincent, Hornsby branch (#41 Jersey St, Hornsby) I visit them almost every weekend but for last year I couldn't find any string instrument whatsoever until this mandolin (and an old cracked banjo from the same doner) the manager said they sold the banjo to an instrument dealer for 350. he said the headstock had a clean 3 inch vertical crack on it. I guess it has to be a very easy fix.bu it sold a day before I got there. for fretting, I probably just wait a couple of weeks and ask around for a professional repair quote and do more research before I start doing anything if I decided to do it myself.
Again thanks for the advice.

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Mark McLean
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Re: Old mandolin unknown fret size

Post by Mark McLean » Wed Jul 22, 2020 10:31 pm

Hi Mr Who. If you are around the Hornsby area then I am actually located very near to you. I have sent you a PM message if you want to borrow tools or get some help to do this job yourself. But a professional refret would give the best outcome. Turramurra Music or Gladesville Guitar Factory both seem to have good reputations.
To DIY, follow this outline by Frank Ford:
http://www.frets.com/FretsPages/Luthier ... ret01.html

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ka_who
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Re: Old mandolin unknown fret size

Post by ka_who » Sat Jul 25, 2020 9:34 pm

Hey Mark, Thanks for the link and your advice I'm checking the website right now and try to see if I'm brave enough to try to take the hammer out!

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