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Thread: Mandolins to repair

  1. #1
    Registered User dhoenisch's Avatar
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    Default Mandolins to repair

    Good morning all. I just thought I'd jump on here and introduce myself. I am not really a mandolin player as much as I am a bit of a mandolin repair person. I figure I will pretty much just be posting on this section of the forum as I may ask questions here only, as well as offer any advice I can give. I usually repair acoustic guitars and banjos, but I have recently been hired by a music school to repair 6 of their mandolins, with the good possibility of more work to come from that same school.

    I do have a couple of mandolins myself, being a bluegrass musician, but I don't really play much. One has been loaned out to one of my sister's mandolin students, and the other is a Harmony that I purchased that I can play some chords on, and that's about it. I just like to tinker with it. My main instrument is banjo, followed by acoustic guitar. My sister teaches me a few things on mandolin from time to time though, so who knows; maybe I'll branch out a bit more.

    Also, I just picked up a basket case of a Mandolin, which I believe is a Harmony from the 1940's era, judging by the headstock. I got it mainly for experimentation in case I come across something on a client's mandolin that I am unsure about. If all goes well, I may even make this one playable, for fun.



    Anyhow, I look forward to chatting with you folks,
    Dan

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    Default Re: Mandolins to repair

    That is probably a good one to learn on... Whats to lose if something goes wrong? Once the back is off you are half way home. That is the kind I look for to repair and learn from and if nothing else there are probably some good parts on it.

    In fact I wonder if that is a Harmony... Most (or all?) Harmony's are laminated and that open crack suggests that this has a solid top. I am guessing you might get better sound out of this than the typical Harmony. Harmonys normally have OK but by no means exceptional sound. The headstock shape can also be found on other brands of the era. The fake horizontal pattern on the front is Harmony-like but if I recall the striping is broader and more separated on Harmonys. There are Harmony experts on the Cafe who will know for sure. It looks like fun.
    Bart McNeil

  3. #3
    Registered User Malcolm G.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolins to repair

    Welcome Dan,

    And have fun!
    Malcolm Grundy from Montreal

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    Default Re: Mandolins to repair

    Wow ... that looks really brittle ... like it'll dissolve into dust if you breathe on it ... Good Luck!!!

  5. #5
    Registered User dhoenisch's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolins to repair

    Thanks for the welcome, all, I do appreciate it. Yeah, I can't wait to get my hands dirty on this mandolin, along with the other six that I have in my shop.

    Bmac, and all, I just wanted to point out that most American made Harmony instruments were made of solid birch, pre-1972, if I remember correctly, with some of them even sporting solid spruce tops. My other mandolin is a Harmony from 1971, and is also all solid birch.


    I also have a couple of Harmony guitars from the 60's and 70's, both solid wood, one (my classical) even with a solid spruce top. I believe 1972-1975 is when they started using laminated wood. Of course, all of the Harmony instruments that are made overseas are laminated.

    Sorry, I'm a bit of a Harmony U.S.A. enthusiast. I love their instruments, even if they aren't the best in the world. However, I X-braced a 1968 Harmony H942 guitar which has all solid birch, and it has more bass and body than even my Martin.


    Anyhow, just thought I'd point some of this out. I just have a soft spot for Harmony instruments.

    Dan

  6. #6
    Confused... or?
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    Default Re: Mandolins to repair

    The OP mando, way above, seems to have painted-on wood-grain "flame". I think that was mostly on older Kays, although Kay back in the 30s (and maybe thru the 40s?) had an asymmetrical headstock. Or I could be wrong!
    - Ed

    "What our group lacks in musicianship is offset by our willingness to humiliate ourselves." - David Hochman

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    Default Re: Mandolins to repair

    Dan
    You obviously know a lot more about them than I do... I'll have another look at my Harmony ruin and learn something.

    In the 1970s I bought a 12 String Harmony guitar. It had almost stunning tone. A friend with a Gibson was even favorably impressed. Withiin a year however, the neck began pulling away from the body. I didn't have money for a repair so I traded it in for a far inferior guitar and have regretted not getting it fixed ever since.

    Bart
    Bart McNeil

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    Default Re: Mandolins to repair

    Dan:

    PS: I just noticed that there is no social group focusing on Harmony mandolin ownership (unless i missed one). I am sure there are some Harmony owners on the Cafe and some who might be interested. You might be able to stimulate interest by founding a social group based on Harmonys.
    Bart McNeil

  9. #9
    Registered User dhoenisch's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolins to repair

    Quote Originally Posted by bmac View Post
    In the 1970s I bought a 12 String Harmony guitar. It had almost stunning tone. A friend with a Gibson was even favorably impressed. Withiin a year however, the neck began pulling away from the body. I didn't have money for a repair so I traded it in for a far inferior guitar and have regretted not getting it fixed ever since.
    Bart
    Ouch! That's too bad. I have been looking for the right 12-string Harmony to come my way. With those Harmony 12-strings, they suggested that the get tuned a whole step down, than capo's at the second fret because of the excessive pull of the strings. I wish they would have done a better job on those 12-ers, but alas, they didn't. I also have a rather inferior 12-string. A $99 SamAsh special. Nowhere near a great guitar, but with some setup and a nice bone saddle, it helps.

    EdHanrahan, I always forget about Kay, and as I look back at it, and with the black tuning machine buttons, it very well may be a Kay. I don't remember seeing black tuning machine buttons on a Harmony before. Now I can't wait to get it (still in transit) so I can inspect it and hopefully solve the mystery of this mandolin.

    Dan

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    Default Re: Mandolins to repair

    Dan:

    Yes, I recall that it was suggested they be tuned down and I did that but it pulled away anyway. Knowing me though, I may not have taken the suggestion as seriously as i should have and may have tuned it to standard now and then. But it could really rumble and roar when I flailed away at it. About ten years ago I bought a cheapie 12 string (at Sam Ash also)... and it kind of looks like a 12 String but weighs a ton and sound a little like a strung up 2" by 4". I don't play it much.
    Bart McNeil

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    Registered User Clement Barrera-Ng's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolins to repair

    Welcome Dan. Looking forward to an update once you start on the repair. As for the possible make of the mandolin, I wonder if it may be a Harmony Monterey (or Monterey Harmony), or a Stella. The combination of the headstock and body shape seems to suggest that.

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    Default Re: Mandolins to repair

    Nice to see that you guys have a soft spot for these old Harmonies. Let's clear a few things up though. You can't identify the mando by the color of the tuners. A lot of older makers did the fake flames. The body shape, head, and and flame pattern, all look like '30's Harmony, from the Supertone period to me. I don't think I've seen a Harmony from before the '70's that was laminated. A lot of them were birch, but they were solid.
    bobby burns

  13. #13
    Registered User 8ch(pl)'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolins to repair

    Your mandolin looks like it may be a Stella.

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