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Thread: Vintage Waldo Mandolin

  1. #1
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    Default Vintage Waldo Mandolin

    Hello!
    I am not very knowledgable when it comes to mandolins, so I thought I'd post something on here in hopes of receiving some information. Years ago my grandma purchased a "Waldo" mandolin at a yard sale for 10 bucks or so...out of curiosity I decided to do a bit of research and I've discovered that was made in the late 1890s/early 1900s and that Waldos were among the first of the bowlback mandolins to feature "f-holes". I was wondering if any of you on here would be able to provide me with anymore information on this. It seems to be in pretty good condition, however, the bridge has been replaced. Could this potentially have any value? I attempted to do a search on ebay but did not find much luck...they only catalogue the past 90 days of winning bids. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

    Here are some pics...I apologize for the dust. I've had it stored away for years :S

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  2. #2
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vintage Waldo Mandolin

    I can answer the value question with not a whole lot. Other than a few premium makers like Martin, bowlbacks don't command high prices.

    Here is every thread on the cafe with waldo in the subject line. There's only a little bit here in these threads.

    Here is every thread on the cafe that contains the word waldo. You'll have to do some digging to get the infomration you want.

  3. #3
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vintage Waldo Mandolin

    Paul Ruppa of the Milwaukee Mandolin Orchestra has been accumulating info on Waldos. I have one also. They all seem to be f-holed bowlbacks -- really prob not only the first but the only one to make them that way. The big problem seems to be top warpage between the f-holes. They all seem to be a little different. I prob posted pics of mine on one of those threads that Mike linked to.
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  4. #4
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vintage Waldo Mandolin

    Your instrument does have "value," though as Mike E indicates, not big-buxx value. Waldo mandolins are pretty rare, and a collector might well have an interest in one; it's an American-made instrument with the idiosyncratic f-hole top, which, as Jim G says, is pretty much unique to this brand.

    I'd make an effort to locate a more "period" bridge; you could have a new one made, or check local instrument repair shops for an old bridge off an unrepairable bowl-back. Using a straight edge, check to see if the mandolin's top is "dished" downward between the two f-holes. Use only very light gauge strings if you're replacing the ones that are on it.

    Your mandolin's back has a relatively small number of ribs, and I can't tell from the pic what the wood is. I've seen other Waldos listed with up to 17 rosewood ribs, others with nine; "rib count" and the use of relatively expensive rosewood are often indicators of high-end vs. lower-end models. If yours has no top sinkage, and you want to sell it, I'd try consigning it at a place like Elderly Instruments, since they've sold several Waldo mandolins (in much worse shape than yours!) in the past.
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  5. #5
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vintage Waldo Mandolin

    Looks like your pics were done on a web cam which gives you mirror image. If you want to make a repro bridge made I have lots of photos of various Waldos on my home computer. Elderly sells generic flattop bridges in rosewood and ebony. You would still have to fit it to the instrument so it makes proper contact with the top as well as notch it properly for the strings but it might work well to make it playable.
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  6. #6
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vintage Waldo Mandolin

    I checked my files and my Waldo (not in playing condition) is pretty close to the OP's. I also found a pic of some Waldo bridges.
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    Jim

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    Default Re: Vintage Waldo Mandolin

    Thanks everyone!! You guys are very helpful! It really is a pretty neat instrument to hold onto...can't really decide if I want to part with it but I did contact Elderly like Allen had suggested, so I'm interested in hearing what they'll have to say about it.

  8. #8
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vintage Waldo Mandolin

    Here is the Patent that Roy B. Simpson received for his Waldo mandolin design.
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    Jim

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  9. #9
    Full Grown and Cussin' brunello97's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vintage Waldo Mandolin

    Waldo, from Saginaw, Michigan, which might seem a pretty odd place for a mandolin maker, except when you think how much wood floated through there in the heyday of furniture manufacture in the GreatLakesRim area. Both domestic and imported. I had one for a bit, and as Jim has said, it suffered from top warpage around the f-holes, as have many that I have seen. Yours appears stable across that area, and while modest in accoutrements compared to higher end Waldos, it seems in quite fine shape, which is rare enough. As Mikey suggests, not a huge market for US bowlbacks right now, but it is growing. Hang on to it and in 10-20 years I bet you can buy a nice (small Japanese) motorcycle with the proceeds. (That is, if you want one.)

    Mick
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    NY Naturalist BradKlein's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vintage Waldo Mandolin

    I love the headstock inlay in the OP's mandolin. I've never seen anything quite like it.

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    Default Re: Vintage Waldo Mandolin

    Ok! Thanks for the info! Good to know!LOL...I may not buy a motorcycle, but a bit of help paying off the students loans would be nice haha!

  12. #12
    Full Grown and Cussin' brunello97's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vintage Waldo Mandolin

    Link to Bowlbacks of Note thread with a discussion of a pair of very ornate Waldo mandolins.

    Waldo

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  13. #13
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    Default Re: Vintage Waldo Mandolin

    Just got back from picking my Calace from the shop...and I'm sorry to say I don't have much more information about the ornate Waldo (or WOW-do).

    My luthier didn't have any more history / background on the owner of the instrument. I did get a look at the label inside...no model number, no date, just a blank label (which might be standard, I don't know). I did get to to hear about some of his ideas for the restoration on all the elaborate engraved inlays however.
    KristinEliza

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