Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Brilliantone Mandolin

  I have this old mandolin that I love to play.  It's a L. H. Leland Brilliantone Mando from perhaps the teens.  It's really a thing of beauty and sounds sweet to my ears.  I've heard tell that they were actually built by the Larson Brothers.  It has a neapolitan or bent top made of spruce, and nice brazillian rosewood back and sides.  Mahogany neck, and a new ebony bridge which I made to replace the original busted one.

   Like other mandolins of the era (and Martins for decades), this one has a bent top and relatively flat back.  I love this style of mandolin, and to me it sounds great for playing rags, blues, and old time stringband music.

   Pretty cool inset tuners with this big decorative coverplate.  They still work good!

  I decided to try my hand at making a similar style mandolin, so using the Brillantone as a model to go off, I've set about to cutting, carving, and gluing.  I'm using oak for the back and sides, and spruce for the top.

  Right now the body has just got it's base coats of shellac.  I decided to inlay the pickguard like on the original.  Producing the bend in the top was not too difficult.  I studied this one and another similar mando as well as I could from the inside with mirrors, and researched more about bowl backs which use this style of top.

  I love the look of quarter sawn oak.  Some of my favorite old instruments are made with it, and not only is it beautiful, but it sounds great.  That's koa binding.

  The neck is being carved now.  I can't wait to get it finished so I can play it!

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