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Thread: Bowlbacks of Note

  1. #5776
    Registered User Tavy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bowlbacks of Note

    Quote Originally Posted by billkilpatrick View Post
    has weight ever been mentioned in terms of noteworthyness? i asked my friend to lend me the american-made "a. galiano" bowlback she'd once given me (and returned, with thanks) so as to compare it to the german-made "superton sing" bowlback i just bought. when compared, the "galiano" was much heavier, with much less projection than the "sing." is this generally true with all heavier, solidly built mandolins?
    I'm not sure that weight is the right measurement - in terms of volume, the loudest bowl I've had was a rather solidly built Il Globo - that said it was also a little harsh (but might have settled down in time, I never got the chance to find out ). Obviously if you go too far in either extreme then the sound will suffer (quiet if it's too well built, thin sounding if it's... well thin), but in between there's seems to be quite a bit of wriggle room. For example there's a school of thought in guitar building that wants heavy, really strong and stiff rims, but with lightweight flexible top and backs hung off the stiff rim - the result can be very loud and long sustaining instruments. If you were to do the same thing in mandolin construction, the result would seem rather heavy given that most of the weight in mandolins comes from the neck, sides and tail blocks anyway (the very things you're beefing up).

    Which is a roundabout way of saying that it's the bracing, thickness and shape of the top (along with bridge geometry) that determines 90% + of the volume and tone.

    Just my 2c..... John.

  2. #5777
    Registered User billkilpatrick's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bowlbacks of Note

    trying to understand why one bowlback is easy to play - more comfortable - and the other not as much. they're both about equal in length; the german "sing" is lighter in weight (wooden girdle on the "a. galiano" may account for that); its bowl slightly deeper - its top narrower at the neck; the fingerboard is a couple of mm's wider and its tuning platform bends at a more horizontal angle. the "sing" has the "egg-shell" feel and sound of a treble lute while the "a. galiano" feels like it'll survive a bar-room brawl - really, really enjoying it.

    when can i expect to receive my "brotherhood of the bowl" pin? - there's a space on my alpine hat (next to the dapper little spray of badger hair)

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  3. #5778
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bowlbacks of Note

    Quote Originally Posted by billkilpatrick View Post
    when can i expect to receive my "brotherhood of the bowl" pin? - there's a space on my alpine hat (next to the dapper little spray of badger hair)
    it is on its way... you know how the Italian postal system is...
    Jim

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    Full Grown and Cussin' brunello97's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bowlbacks of Note

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    it is on its way... you know how the Italian postal system is...
    Victor, John, and I put some special treats in the package along with your pin, Bill. I'm sure it will be arriving, well, any day now.

    Mick
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  5. #5780
    Registered User billkilpatrick's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bowlbacks of Note

    i haven't had my coffee yet - part of me just went "oo - i wonder what it could be?"

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    Default Re: Bowlbacks of Note

    Wasn't sure if this was the right discussion, but does anyone play an Eastman bowlback? There is one I am thinking of purchasing and would like to hear some opinions from the cafe first.

  7. #5782
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bowlbacks of Note

    I finally got to play one at CMSA this year. I only played it for a maybe a minute tho, so i would not say that this is a thorough review. As I recall, this was a nice sounding and playing instrument. This particular one was set up very well and I did like it more than I thought I would. I do wish I have more time to put it thru its paces but I don't think you can go too wrong if the price is right for you.

    I know that Buzz Gravelle demoed one a few years back for Eastman and he was positive about it as well. I don't know of anyone who actually plays one as their main instrument, tho I believe there was a player at the Aonzo workshop in NY who played one.
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  8. #5783
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    Default Re: Bowlbacks of Note

    Thanks Jim! Anyone else?

  9. #5784
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    Default Re: Bowlbacks of Note

    "I finally got to play one at CMSA this year. I only played it for a maybe a minute tho, so i would not say that this is a thorough review. As I recall, this was a nice sounding and playing instrument."

    I also played this particular instrument at CMSA and thought it was well set up, well made, and definitely worth the money if one prefers a modern instrument and does not want to spend $3,000+, say, on a Pandini. FWIW, I think the Eastman is superior to the equivalent instrument from Calace (I own a modern Calace at about the same price point); Victor K. might disagree, though. Also David Miller, who is a very fine player, uses an Eastman bowlback.
    Robert A. Margo

  10. #5785
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bowlbacks of Note

    I agree with Bob. I played a recent Calace and tho it was all right, the neck seemed quite clubby. I don't think Victor's is like that. Bob probably played the one at CMSA and I would trust his assessment.

    Smiley: have you played the one you are considering? is it maple or rosewood bowled? I can't recall what the Eastman I played was. I thought maple.
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  11. #5786
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    Default Re: Bowlbacks of Note

    I don't quite know the reason behind this, but the neck on my 2004 Calace tapers rather elegantly, almost to a Romanesque V-shape by the time it reaches the pegbox; other Calaces I've seen do in fact have rather clubby, nearly perfect U-shaped necks. I have no idea of what lies behind this curious discrepancy...

    The price-point has slipped (upwards, of course) since the time I got mine; all told, case, shipping, this-and-that fees and taxes, insurance, etc., etc., etc., mine set me back shy of $1,000, a mere 8 years ago. I thought it was a good deal then, and still do now. Yet there seems to have been an irritating 100-euro mark-up at the Calace shop, year in, year out. So now the price-point may have caught up with where Eastman instruments stand.

    That said, I do like Eastman mandolins, from what I've seen and heard. As for matters of taste, there's no accounting.

    Cheers,

    Victor
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  12. #5787
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bowlbacks of Note

    I have played yours, Victor and I do recall that the neck was quite nice and comfortable. The other recently made Calace mandolin I played had a very clubby and chubby neck. Maybe the guy who makes the necks changed and he prefers that shape or maybe they had some problems with necks -- I wonder if there is any reinforcement inside the neck.
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  13. #5788
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    Default Re: Bowlbacks of Note

    What do y'all mean by "chubby/clubby"? I realize this is a hard thing to describe without a photo, but may comparisons might help. How does that comp to a vintage Vega or Washburn neck?--both Louisville Sluggers when comped to their Italian contemporaries. Are the new Calace necks still made out of softwoods or have they gone to something more sturdy?

    My Vinaccia's neck is as slender as, well, Audrey Hepburn's.

    Mick
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  14. #5789
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    Default Re: Bowlbacks of Note

    Yes, measurements would help, indeed. A perfect U-shape would be "clubby" by definition, I suppose, but there's U-shapes and there's U-shapes... Pecoraro's V-shaped necks are sometimes ~quite~ chunkier than Embergher's, so of course the devil's in the details. If the scientifically inclined and qualified would like to speak metrically, please do so; all I know is what fits nicely in my own hand, what doesn't. I'm but a lowly jongleur...

    Cheers,

    Victor
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  15. #5790
    Albert the Magic Pudding Graham McDonald's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bowlbacks of Note

    The 'feel' of neck has most to do with how the cross-section tapers in the section immediately under the fingerboard. If the top few mm of the neck stays at much the same width as the fingerboard, the neck will 'feel' thicker than if the taper starts right at the bottom of the fingerboard. No idea about measurements, as I don't really measure anything other than sometimes a first facet cut away from the rectangular rough neck shaft. One thing I have noticed over the years is that a neck can feel quite different with the strings on, as distinct from how it feels in the hand when carving it. Must be something in how it sits in the left hand with strings fitted.

    cheers

    g

    Quote Originally Posted by vkioulaphides View Post
    Yes, measurements would help, indeed. A perfect U-shape would be "clubby" by definition, I suppose, but there's U-shapes and there's U-shapes... Pecoraro's V-shaped necks are sometimes ~quite~ chunkier than Embergher's, so of course the devil's in the details. If the scientifically inclined and qualified would like to speak metrically, please do so; all I know is what fits nicely in my own hand, what doesn't. I'm but a lowly jongleur...

    Cheers,

    Victor

  16. #5791
    Registered User billkilpatrick's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bowlbacks of Note

    Quote Originally Posted by brunello97 View Post
    ... My Vinaccia's neck is as slender as, well, Audrey Hepburn's. ...
    a friend of mine who sells wine devised something similar - she described one year's vintage as "grace kelly," another's as "j. lo," "penelope cruz," etc., etc.. an audrey hepburn neck, monica bellucci bowl, grace kelly sound board and ethel merman sound hole will do me.

  17. #5792
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bowlbacks of Note

    Ethel Merman (!) aside...

    Clubby/chubby as Victor noted is in the hands of the beholder. If it were scaled up to guitar size it would be baseball-battish.
    Jim

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  18. #5793
    Registered User billkilpatrick's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bowlbacks of Note

    ... martha raye? - i'd like it to pro-ject!

  19. #5794
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bowlbacks of Note

    Interesting Embergher on Italy eBay. Seller says it is a style 4. Pretty unusual in that it is 1912 which is late for a symmetrical pickguard. Unusual inlay as well throughout -- they look more like ones that would appear on American instruments. AFAIK style 4s were basically style 3s as a custom order. I have only seen a few pics of style 4s so each may be unique.
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    Jim

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  20. #5795
    Registered User billkilpatrick's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bowlbacks of Note

    "like" button ... can't find it

  21. #5796
    Full Grown and Cussin' brunello97's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bowlbacks of Note

    Beautiful instrument, Jim. Now that's a neck.

    FWLIW I never been a big fan of Embergher pickguards. Everything seems to me out of balance in the design visuals (in contrast to the sound and playing, I am sure.) While symmetrical pg seems in contrast to all the fretboard and bridge asymmetry, at least it is a bit calmer. I like it. Do those look like repaired top cracks along the fb?


    The maple bowl is exquisite as is the profiling on the skirt. Laura Antonelli?

    Mick
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  22. #5797
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bowlbacks of Note

    My 1904 has the symmetrical pg. I thought they switched over around 1907, that is why I thought it odd that it had one of those. Also, I have never seen one from that period with an ebony pg. I have to look at my book and see what the examples of style 4s look like. They are pretty rare tho.

    There is a small picture of one on Ralf Leenen's site but it is a later one with a dragon inlay on the pg.

    Yes the seller mentions repaired top cracks:

    Mandolin Luigi Embergher Roma, via delle carrozze n.19, 1912, represents the model of production Embergher n 4, has 32 fluted maple slats, refined decoration in precious materials in the pickguard and headstock, original mark on the back of the headstock, the conditions are good but has undergone a restoration of two old cracks in the soundboard, fully closed (photo 3), also had another restoration of some customs but these repairs were performed masterfully and do not require further action. The paint is original and beautiful, the mechanics in horn are in perfect working, original tailpiece and bridge, the strings should be replaced.
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    Jim

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  23. #5798
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bowlbacks of Note

    I just looked thru Ralf Leenen's book and he has only one example of a No. 4 (the one in that grouping above). That one is more ornate and has the asymmetrical scroll pickguard and dates from 1910.

    I am not sure what this current eBay one is. Either it is a customized 3 (a 3 1/2?) or else it is a 3 that someone added his or her own ornamentation including ebony symmetrical pickguard, new fret markers and some engraved ivory or bone inlays. Sort of strange, I would say. Also, those engraved inlays on the headstock look a little rough and not quite up to the skill of what I would expect from the Emberghger shop. Please pardon my skepticism. There is something a little odd to me about this one.
    Jim

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  24. #5799
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    Default Re: Bowlbacks of Note

    [QUOTE=Smiley: have you played the one you are considering? is it maple or rosewood bowled? I can't recall what the Eastman I played was. I thought maple.[/QUOTE]

    I have not played either instrument. I'm considering a Calace rosewood Model 15 listed on the Cafe that is in my area to try out in person (always preferred), or an Eastman on Ebay, also rosewood.

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/ws/eBayISAPI...ht_1691wt_1308

    Hmm, there is another Calace now listed on the cafe from 1962 with with rosewood back.

  25. #5800
    Registered User Tavy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bowlbacks of Note

    Whatever model the Embergher may be, it sure is pretty. Some mighty fine workmanship on that one!

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