Ferrari Butterfly Mandolin Repair & Renovation

The mandolin had suffered severe damage with the neck being broken off completely which also caused damage to the body and bowl. The top had lifted away from the body and some of the inlay work around the instrument edges had come away. Some of the mother-of-pearl and tortoise shell inlay pieces were missing.

The objective was to repair the instrument back to a playable condition and wherever possible utilise the original parts to maintain a high degree of authenticity. The objective was achieved with the exception of the fingerboard. The original had to be partially removed to facilitate the neck repair and in doing so it was discovered that the rosewood had become very brittle and tended to break up into pieces despite careful heating and steaming to soften the adhesive. Also when the frets had originally been inserted, the fingerboard had been slotted right through its thickness and so it came away in sections leaving quite a jigsaw puzzle. Therefore the decision was made to make a new fingerboard but re-use the original fret-wire and mother-of-pearl dots. The only other new parts used were a few replacement m-o-p strips plus a few faux-tortoiseshell pieces in the edge inlay. The repair began with the refitting of the neck into the broken body block. It was clamped into place with a straight edge against the fingerboard for alignment and left overnight whilst the adhesive set. Once the clamps were removed a wooden dowel was inserted vertically through the neck and into the body block and glued into place for added strength. After fitting the fingerboard the dowel would be hidden. With the neck back in position the breaks in the bowl were glued up and then the top fixed back down into place. Some of the original inlay pieces were found in the mandolin case and these were re-fitted in their respective positions. Some new mother-of-pearl and faux-tortoiseshell pieces had to be cut and attached and these blended in so well it was hard to identify which parts were new. A new rosewood fingerboard was made and the fret slots cut before it was glued in position on the neck. The original dots were used to mark the 3rd, 5th, 7th, 10th and 12th frets and these were inserted and flattened before fretting. All the original brass frets were re-used and these were straightened and cleaned up before insertion. Once fitted they were then dressed flat and polished. A small repair to the veneer was needed on the back of the neck near the body joint where it had broken away. This was achieved with a small off-cut of rosewood, thinned down and steam bent to shape before being glued into position. After final smoothing and finishing it was hardly noticeable. The remainder of the instrument was then cleaned and buffed and the butterfly inlay polished.

Finally the tuners were cleaned out and lightly lubricated before the mandolin was strung up with Martin strings and tuned to concert pitch. The mandolin has a beautiful tone and a good action.

Ferrari Butterfly - Before

Ferrari Butterfly - After