Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Sanremo Solid Body Electric Mandolin (project)

Here's a cool one...I actually still have it, but it's in parts. So, technically it hasn't gotten away yet, but I just don't know when I'll get around to restoring it. Especially since I'm not really a guitar restoring kind of guy. I'll start the story off with this...if anyone is interested in owning this, I'd probably sell it...email me. Now for the story...

I saw this for sale on eBay one day and I got just a little obsessed with it. I bid more than I should have and won...and now it's just sitting around in my studio. It's an eight string solid body electric mandolin made by Sanremo. Ever heard of it? Me either. I think it's just a Japanese company from the '70s that probably made things under different names. If you know anything about this please let me know. I'm dying to find out something.

This mando looked like someone had left it out in the backyard for the winter under some leaves or maybe in a shed. Bill Nash can try to make his relics look beat to hell, but you can't fake this. It's a mess cosmetically. But, interestingly, the action on it was pretty decent and it works fine. The problem was that the bridge had cracked into two pieces and the nut is broken. I actually reglued the bridge and it went back together pretty well. But the nut had a chunk missing and it needs a new nut made. The electronics work well and you've got to love that tortoise shell covering on the pickup. Tuners and neck are good.

My original intention was to take it apart (which I did), sand it down (which I started and quit) and completely refinish the body in Sonic Blue and give it that cool old Fender Mustang look...the Sonic Blue with the tortoise shell guard would look sweet in my opinion. Or maybe Shoreline Gold. Seafoam Green would look cool too, but if you're going to go with Seafoam Green you might as well go one better and do the Sonic Blue. Olympic White would look really nice, but a bit plain and I like things a bit different. Of course I could always go back to the yellowed looking Vintage White. I'll even admit, I gave some thought to Shell Pink, which would look cool with the tortoise. It's a really underrated Fender custom color that I'm sure is overlooked because everyone is afraid to look gay (there, I said it). But I think it can look pretty cool on the right instrument, though admittedly not very manly. Hell, it's no Lake Placid Blue! Now there's a manly color for you. And no one's going to get beat up playing a sunburst Strat. Very safe.

I was thinking I would ask you, my readers, what color do you think I should do the refin? Please, leave a comment!

It's all there and I think it would be a really cool instrument to bring back to life. I just don't know about having the time. I'm sure I could get a new nut made. And my next door neighbor is a fine craftsman woodworker who knows everything about everything when it comes to this stuff. Maybe I just need to man up (so forget the shell pink) and get to work on this thing.

Anyone know where to get a nut custom made?

UPDATE (March '09): A reader named Virginia just contacted me and let me know that she, too, owns a Sanremo electric mandolin. Hers is the same color as mine, which leads me to believe I should refinish mine in the original color. Maybe. Anyway, here is a photo (left) of hers and it certainly matches up exactly with mine. Thanks Virginia!


Keith said...

Sonic blue would look pretty fantastic on that.

As for the nut, I'm sure you could go to any decent repair shop and they can handle the shaping for you.

karl said...

Nuts are easy. Kind of.

I wouldn't like any 'vintage' tone of opaque coloring, just a nice wood stain to make it a bit darker and protect it from more winters outside.

It's not a Fender, and it shouldn't try to be one. It's a Sanremo, the rarest of its kind!

Here's one in a cream color: http://www.emando.com/builders/San_Remo.htm

Jaimie Muehlhausen said...

Wow, thanks for the link...I have looked and looked on the web and never come across that one before. A dark stain isn't an option I had really considered but not a bad idea. It will be interesting to see what the wood looks like under that original paint job.

thanks - Jaimie

Anonymous said...

sonic blue all the way

Roger H said...

I just picked up one of these at the local music store and love it. Mine is fairly beat up, but nothing major for 40+ years old. They told me it was made in '65. The neck is HUGE and the pickup has a very sweet clear tone. By all means finish this project and you will be very happy. I have a Mandobird and 2 Mid-Mo's (1acoustic and 1 electric-Solid body)
and this little guy sounds better than either of the other solid body mando's.