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Thread: vintage bowlback mandola...

  1. #1
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    Default vintage bowlback mandola...

    No matter where I look, I can't find a vintage bowlback mandola. I play the viola and it would be a natural slide-sidewase instrument for me to take up. Any ideas where I might find such an animal?

    Tks in advance for any info possible.
    Television is very educational. Every time someone turns it on I go to another room and read a book. .....Groucho Marx

  2. #2
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: vintage bowlback mandola...

    Lark Street Music in Teaneck NJ has had a Ditson bowl-back mandola on its inventory list -- for years, I believe -- for $895. If you use this link, and scroll down to the "Mandolins" section, you can access pics of it.

    It's very like the Washburn bowl-back mandola I own, with one of the alternating-maple-and-rosewood-staves bodies. I would guess it was made in the early 20th century. Buzzy at Lark Street says it was "made by Martin," but I'd disagree; I've seen those maple/rosewood bodies on several Chicago-made brands, never on a Martin. I'd guess it was made by Lyon & Healy; Ditson was a distributor and music store, didn't make their own instruments, contracted with manufacturers (like Martin) to build for them.

    I've had good luck with my old Washburn, though it has a cracked and dished top that's been restored a zillion times. Hope the Ditson is something like what you're seeking.
    Allen Hopkins
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    Default Re: vintage bowlback mandola...

    Thank you Allen.

    I am in awe of the vast knowledge base of this forum. And let's not forget the recommendations that are prompt and spot-on.

    Thank you.

    germano
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  4. #4
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: vintage bowlback mandola...

    Let us know if you end up buying it. As you discovered, vintage bowl-back mandolas aren't exactly common. I'd be interested in an owner's opinion of the Ditson.
    Allen Hopkins
    Gibsn: '54 F5 3pt F2 A-N Custm K1 m'cello
    Natl Triolian Dobro mando
    Victoria b-back Merrill alumnm b-back
    H-O mandolinetto
    Stradolin Vega banjolin
    Sobell'dola Washburn b-back'dola
    Eastmn: 615'dola 805 m'cello
    Flatiron 3K OM

  5. #5
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: vintage bowlback mandola...

    I played that mandola years ago. I wish I could remember but it did not impress me all that much. I would ask lots of questions like action and whether the neck is bowed. I had an American Conservatory some time ago but sold it. As a side line... try and find a case for that one. Good luck!!

    European mandolas are around but the caveat for a viola player is that they are generally built to be played in octave tuning, tho I have a Calace one and I strung it pretty light and tune it to CGDA.
    Jim

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    Default Re: vintage bowlback mandola...

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    European mandolas are around but the caveat for a viola player is that they are generally built to be played in octave tuning, tho I have a Calace one and I strung it pretty light and tune it to CGDA.
    They can be found- I have a German mandola and it's obviously meant for CGDA. I think you have to reach an 18" scale for octave to really work.

  7. #7
    Full Grown and Cussin' brunello97's Avatar
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    Default Re: vintage bowlback mandola...

    Germano, I have three US built bowl-dolas. Two nameless ones are under repair but should be playable by the end of summer (I work very slowly.) If you are still in the market in August, and are at all interested, send me a PM.

    Mick
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  8. #8
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: vintage bowlback mandola...

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    ...try and find a case for that one. Good luck!!...
    I ended up building my own (crude!) hardshell case for my Washburn bowl-back mandola. It came with an old leather case which I couldn't repair and which fell apart after a couple years.
    Allen Hopkins
    Gibsn: '54 F5 3pt F2 A-N Custm K1 m'cello
    Natl Triolian Dobro mando
    Victoria b-back Merrill alumnm b-back
    H-O mandolinetto
    Stradolin Vega banjolin
    Sobell'dola Washburn b-back'dola
    Eastmn: 615'dola 805 m'cello
    Flatiron 3K OM

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