Here we have the first Wiens-branded Mandola. Wiens H5 #49 signed June 19th 2020. This instrument pays homage to the classic Lloyd Loar signed Gibsons of 1924 …But with a contemporary twist. Most notably the longer scale. At 16.5″ the scale length is about an inch longer than the original instruments resulting in a faster response and more sustain. Single note work becomes more defined and tremolo picking quicker. Strumming can be more robust without strings rattling on the frets. Another benefit of the added length allows placement of the bridge more in the center of the body where it can better excite the tone-bar braced Adirondack Spruce soundboard. It also brings the body join to the 15th fret exactly like it’s mandolin cousin rather than the odd 13th fret join of the original examples.
The neck and sides of this instrument are of nicely figured Sugar maple while the back is a one-piece slab of Red maple. Besides just being a beautiful wide piece of wood, The softer Red maple is lighter and more vascular than Sugar maple and in this instrument I believe it imparts more warmth and bass than you’d get from a Sugar maple back on the same instrument. As far as appearance, the technique of hand-staining and painstakingly sanding-back and repeating the stain exaggerates the figure of an already stunning piece of wood. This is then finished in french polished Spirit Varnish.
The Appointments of Wiens #49 are traditional with few exceptions. The peghead features a dyed pearwood veneer which is inlayed and then blacked over in the style that we see on the old Gibbys. This is then painstakingly scraped off to reveal the Hand-cut shell inlay beneath. The binding is the traditional triple bound faux ivory celluloid, painstakingly mitered at each corner. Fingerboard is ebony and the nut is fashioned of bone. The “Wiens” logo and tuner knobs are genuine Mother of Pearl.
The back of the peghead also receives it’s own black veneer. The Tuning machines on Wiens H5 #49 are made by Alessi. A boutique maker based in italy specializing in the finest quality tuners for stringed instruments of all kinds. These ones are painstakingly hand -engraved. The neck is one-piece sugar maple with a single compression trussrod
Here’s a good look at the beautifully hand-stained Soundboard with it’s slightly varied appearance. This says “vintage” to me in a way that sprayed stain jobs never will. The handmade celluloid finger rest is a dead ringer for the originals right down to the inlaid steel reinforcement strip, the patent stamp and the silver plated mounting hardware. The tailpiece is a silver-plated replica designed by Bill James and hand-engraved by Tom McArdle. Frets are stainless steel on this instrument for long wear. Fingerboard on this instrument is flat.
This instrument is sold