Results 1 to 8 of 8

Thread: Brazilian f-hole mandolin: any information?

  1. #1
    Registered User
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Location
    Missoula, Montana
    Posts
    9

    Default Brazilian f-hole mandolin: any information?

    I travel to Santarém, a smaller city in the lower Amazon in Brazil occasionally. This time, I was in a music store that had had a “bandolim,” and I purchased this inexpensive trade instrument ($200 US).

    My question is: does anyone know anything about this model or this type of Brazilian mandolin? It looks a bit like the Kay and Harmony “trade mandolins” of yesterday—a low-cost Gibson A with f holes knockoff, but it also has some Brazilian bandolim features, including the sound. It is marked “Phoenix” on the headstock, with no interior label. Obviously, this instrument is no relationship with the custom U.S. maker. It is finished/painted black, the headstock lettering in decal. The top is laminate—I actually found this mandolin model for sale on a Brazilian webpage which lists the top as “special spruce!” The top and bottom are much less curved than a carved Gibson, and the body is both deeper and wider than a standard Gibson copy—but, more similar to traditional bandolims. The body and probably neck are a heavy tropical wood. The back is one piece, which, curiously to me, has a carved rib down the center; the top appears to be X-braced. The tailpiece and tuners are sturdy metal and the tuners have a reassuringly smooth feel. The fretboard and bridge are rosewood; the bridge must weigh three times what my Collings MT bridge does. There is no adjustable truss rod, and workmanship is variable—but it is a quite playable instrument.

    The sound seems Brazilian to me, though I don’t have experience with serious Brazilian instruments--low volume (great for playing in a hotel room), jangling sound, heavier on the bass than the treble. My Collings MT has a black face, ivoroid binding, and single-piece back, so my two mandolins look rather similar—but boy, are they ever different beasts! I see this Brazilian mandolin as sort of the “anti-Collings,” to my other instrument—no CDC precision, no powerful A and E courses—but with more personality than most inexpensive mandolins and fun in its own right.

    Does anyone know about the history of f-hole mandolins in Brazil? Is this a recent phenomenon? Where in Brazil might this instrument be made? After buying this one, I spotted another, similar but with a different name and fancier, for $100 more in another store, so it certainly is not unique. . . .

    Thanks, John
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

Name:	CollingsMTandBrazilianPhoenix.jpg 
Views:	65 
Size:	77.0 KB 
ID:	48670   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	BrazilianMandoHeadstock.jpg 
Views:	50 
Size:	90.6 KB 
ID:	48671  
    John

    A universe in 4 courses and 22 frets.

  2. #2
    Capt. E Capt. E's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Austin, Texas
    Posts
    2,087

    Default Re: Brazilian f-hole mandolin: any information?

    Your Phoenix looks very much like my japanese 70's vintage "Shiro" (spruce top, mahogany back and sides, rosewood fretboard and bridge. See my picture album). My Shiro may have more curve in the top and back and might be a bit thinner in the body. It is a great Old time instrument.
    Jammin' in South Austin with:
    '70's Shiro A
    '08 Weber Bighorn
    '14 Gibson A
    LeCapitaine Accordion
    Harmonica
    Penny Whistle
    My albums: http://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/album.php?u=7616

  3. #3
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    40.191N -74.2W
    Posts
    14,207

    Default Re: Brazilian f-hole mandolin: any information?

    Rolfe Gerhardt might have some issues here.

    Is it marked Made In Brazil?

  4. #4
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    40.191N -74.2W
    Posts
    14,207

    Default Re: Brazilian f-hole mandolin: any information?

    Link to Capt E's picture. Mine isn't displaying the image.

  5. #5
    Registered User
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Location
    Missoula, Montana
    Posts
    9

    Default Re: Brazilian f-hole mandolin: any information?

    Thanks, it does look like the Shiro, and when I first saw it, I thought "pac-rim." The store, though, said it was Brazilian--and Brazil makes a lot more "stuff" for themselves than we do! It is unmarked, but came with a paper label marked musicinstrumentos, a nonfunctioning email address, and a promise of a 90 day guarantee.

    I think you would need to be pretty gullible to confuse this one with Rolfe Gerhardt's masterful pieces!
    John

    A universe in 4 courses and 22 frets.

  6. #6
    Registered User Rolfe's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    mid-coast Maine
    Posts
    265

    Default Re: Brazilian f-hole mandolin: any information?

    Mike, I never "issued" those mandolins, but if anyone has a spare airline ticket, I'd like to go to Brazil and check it out....might take until spring with the cold front coming in tonight.

  7. #7
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    40.191N -74.2W
    Posts
    14,207

    Default Re: Brazilian f-hole mandolin: any information?

    Rolfe, I would have never mistaken it for one of yours but I agree, it might be a good idea for you to go down for a few months and check it out. It has to be a lot warmer there than where you are.

  8. #8
    Capt. E Capt. E's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Austin, Texas
    Posts
    2,087

    Default Re: Brazilian f-hole mandolin: any information?

    Thanks for the link, someday I'll figure out how to do that correctly.

    I have come close to buying a Brazilian made mandolin (bandolim) a few times. There are some very nice instruments made down there.
    I notice my Shiro even has a very similar headstock finish. Wonder who is influenced by who?
    Jammin' in South Austin with:
    '70's Shiro A
    '08 Weber Bighorn
    '14 Gibson A
    LeCapitaine Accordion
    Harmonica
    Penny Whistle
    My albums: http://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/album.php?u=7616

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •