View Full Version : What do you guys think of this Bowl-back?

Mar-01-2004, 2:30am

opinions? Suggestions. I wanna learn some Mando, and I'm more drawn to this style of Mando rather than the a or F styles. comments and reccomendations welcome.

Jim Garber
Mar-01-2004, 8:49am
Well, you came to the right place if you are drawn to bowlbacks. Welcome to the club.

Mike Holmes in his Mugwumps FAQ says: Eugene Howard was the Cincinnati, OH maker of Howard brand instruments c1896-1920s. They were distributed by Wurlitzer, a major wholesaler, with branches in Cincinnati and Chicago. Later, Howard became a Wurlitzer brandname.

This may very well be a decent bowlback. It certainly is pretty fancy looking. On the other hand, you may get a better sounding and playing instrument for that money sticking with a plainer model Vega, Martin or Washburn.

Also, as one who has bought all too many bowlback mandolins on eBay, here is my one caveat: they all need the luthier's touch to make them playable instruments. That and the other caveat which is ultralight strings, NOT J74s or the equiv.


Mar-01-2004, 11:59am
thanks for the info. I have no problem with doing a little work on it as I dabble in a little Lutherie one might say. I just thought it was a nifty looking one, and thought I'd ask about it. I don't really casre too much about the looks of it. I mean I like the cool pickguards, but I'm indifferent about the shell border, and such. But I DO want it to sound good! I have no problem with extra lights either...hmmm..

Mar-01-2004, 12:01pm
Also...this is a different question. But what kind of Mando was the guy playing in Cold Mountian. I saw the movie but not being the bowl-back-buff I had no clue. thought it was pretty darn cool though...

Mar-01-2004, 12:50pm
Sorry to bombard you all with questions.. but what is this one? : http://cgi.ebay.com/ws....y=10179 (http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=3706975130&category=10179)

Mar-01-2004, 1:02pm
Not at all. #I think many folks here like the questions, Mr. Mayes.

The mandolin in Cold Mountain looked like a very cheap, pre-WWII German mandolin. #The mandolin was almost entirely unknown in North America until the 1880s or so, so its presence in the film was a bit anachronistic.

On the Eugene Howard, it looks much fancier than anything else I've seen with that label. #Here are the issues I noticed at a superficial first glance: there is the acknowledged top crack and it looks like there may be a second, also trivial; the bridge rests behind the cant, usually a sign that the neck has warped to a degree to require the extra compensation (there were exceptions built for the bridge to rest behind the cant, most notably Vega, but I'm not aware if Howard ever built this way); and the celluloid of the pickguard is degrading and cracking.

On the last eBay piece you've posted, this is a ca. 1960s-1970s Japanese Mandolin, likely from the Suzuki factory. #They were very neatly crafted with rather heavy soundboxes and feeble necks; i.e. strings stout enough to adequately stimulate the soundboard will eventually warp the neck.

Mar-01-2004, 1:12pm
ahh..I thought the second one was a cheapie..

Well I guess I'll just keep an eye out for a nice old washburn or somthing. #I don't want to mess with something that has had a warped neck and the bridge has had to be #moved to compensate..that is no good. #there are quite a few Washburns on Ebay. #Here is a cool Martin too...thoughts on this one? #Or heck someone just find me a cool one to buy for my first one..but not a peice of crap.

what is your take on this martin? #What Model? #Apx. Value? it satisfies my urge for the cool pickguard but is not overly fancy....I e-mail them and asked for a price...what do you guys think it would be worth? Caus eI don't even know what model it is.... #Martin Mando (http://gbase.com/gearlist/guitar_picture.asp?guitar=507011)

Jim Garber
Mar-01-2004, 1:25pm
I have played that very instrument. In fact, it was one of the highlights from my "Mandolin Adventure Day" thread elsewhere on this board. Here is my report:

After my visit to Patelson's I went downtown to 48th Street which is (or was) the main music street in NY. Upstairs, in the acoustic section at Rudy's music there is a rather nice 1906 (sn 1918) Style 3 (I believe) Martin bowlback. I told the folks there to immediately change the strings to the requisite light gauge and I detuned it for them after playing it for a short time. As with all these, it is playable but needs that luthier's magic touch to be a real playing instrument. They were asking $1500 for this mandolin, prob somewhat on the high side IMHO, but likely it will be there for awhile and possibly negotiable. Contact info (http://rudysmusic.com/) for those interested. Here (http://www.gbase.com/gearlist/guitar_picture.asp?guitar=507011&home=dealer) is a picture and some description. It would be nice to have it in the "family."

I believe that there was some repair work doneon the bowl. You can sort of see it in their photo. I never asked if there was a case. BTW VG Price Guide lists a Style 1 (less fancy) at $1100.


Mar-01-2004, 3:37pm
hey that's cool. Still a little out of my price range...especially for a first mando..I was hoping to see somehting south of $500..guess a washburn may be the ticket...any other suggestions..

Mar-01-2004, 3:48pm
Or a lower-end Vega, if you are lucky.

Speaking of Vegas, I must second and emphasize what Eugene pointed out earlier: Unlike Vegas, the vast majority of mandolins were of course meant to have the bridge on the "upper side" of the cant (to point out the obvious). Now, if the previous owner of the instrument you posted has had to move the bridge this FAR southwards to compensate for a warped neck, well, the warp must be rather significant. I have a couple of vintage instruments which have needed minor adjustment of the bridge location but, in their case, we are talking about a millimeter here and there, and still on the "right" side of the cant.

And, compensation and all, will the frets intonate correctly with this wacky relocation of the bridge? It's hard to imagine that they would—#or could. Are we talking about a whole new fingerboard? This only brings us back to Jim's original (and always true) concern regarding the extent of work any and every old instrument may need.

Best of luck in your quest.


Mar-01-2004, 3:51pm
Look into low-end Vega mandolins as well. They are amongst my favorite cheapies. Also, look for pieces with the Ditson label. Ditson was the retailer/publisher that founded the Lyon & Healy Co. (L&H) to serve as its manufacturing arm. Ditson commissioned instruments for their house brand from the likes of L&H (the parent company of the Washburn brand), Vega, and Martin. Most of their commissions were decent pieces and, if in good playable condition, can be good buys in bypassing collectors' premiums associated with the maker's label.

Mar-01-2004, 3:52pm
PS: What kind of material are you looking to play on this, John?

Jim Garber
Mar-01-2004, 4:01pm
I have no problem with doing a little work on it as I dabble in a little Lutherie one might say. #
Hey John:
I checked out your web site. Dabble indeed! Some very nice looking guitars and ukes.

Get yourself into a good bowlback and maybe a few of us might convince you to start building ones for us.


Mar-01-2004, 4:06pm
Style? I have no style! I lknow like 4 chords on a Mando, but I'm a pretty decent guitar player so I imagine I could pick up the basics pretty quick. I like the style of stuff that thye played in cold mountian...down home stuff!

Mar-01-2004, 5:43pm

I think the fact that the eBay poster makes so much of the fact that the instrument is an "antique" suggests that they are expecting to get rich off the sale. While it is pretty, mandolins were very nearly a dime a dozen in 1900. I have a style 4 Vega (pictures in the picture area) and don't play it because (to me) it seems old and fragile. If you simply want to learn and are drawn to the Neopolitan (bowl-back) style, Lark in the Morning offers "new" ones. Can't speak to quality but you're buying a pig in the poke over eBay anyway from somebody who wants to sell collectible antiques, not somebody who wants to sell a playable instrument. The fact that he comments that the crack was "professionally repaired" but that does not affect the "overall aesthetics" screams that he is expecting to sell to a collector, not to a player.

It is pretty. It might have problems from having been strung with too heavy a guage string causing neck bowing and/or top dishing. Looking just below the tortoise pickguard I see what appears to be discoloration from where the bridge was probably originally located.

Jim Garber
Mar-01-2004, 5:52pm
If you simply want to learn and are drawn to the Neopolitan (bowl-back) style, Lark in the Morning offers "new" ones.
Lark's instruments are at best Musikalia which are inexpensive factory instruments pof all right quality. I think if you can find a vintage bowlback in decent condition of the brands named above you are better off in terms of a quality instrument and one that will retain value. You may not even pay all that much more.

I played a few instruments at Larks' store in Seattle and was not too impressed with the quality of them.

Bear in mind that John is also a more than competent luthier.

These bowlbacks are old and fragile but hey they lasted for over a century -- as long as you do not overstring them.


Mar-01-2004, 7:45pm
I think if you can find a vintage bowlback in decent condition of the brands named above you are better off in terms of a quality instrument and one that will retain value. You may not even pay all that much more.

...And may even pay considerably less! I have paid as little as $136.50 for a functional antique Neapolitan-type American mandolin by a respected maker in Brazilian rosewood requiring no more than appropriate strings and a good cleaning.

Mar-01-2004, 7:46pm
Get yourself into a good bowlback and maybe a few of us might convince you to start building ones for us.

...Or repairing them!

Jim Garber
Mar-01-2004, 8:11pm

I think John is on the modest side when he says he has some luthier experience... take a look at his work on his site (http://www.mayesguitars.com/).


Mar-01-2004, 9:29pm
With how nice looking your guitar's and uke's are
you could get your hand's on a good cylinder back (Vega?) and spec it out....... you could build one fine mando!!!!!!

Fine stuff John Mayes!


Jim Garber
Mar-01-2004, 9:45pm
Hmmm, good idea, Spud! We must educate Mr. Mayes...


Mar-01-2004, 11:17pm

Clearly John knows his way around the woodshop. Beautiful work! I suspect that he'd have no problem dealing with any problems that instrument might have. I still think that based on the way that the ad is worded, the seller is hoping to snag a "collector".

My suggestion of something "new" stems from my own personal reluctance to wail away on a 100 year old instrument.

Jim Garber
Mar-01-2004, 11:22pm
My suggestion of something "new" stems from my own personal reluctance to wail away on a 100 year old instrument.
Well, I come from the other end of the highway, so to speak. Almost all my instruments are vintage and I play them relentlessly. There are times when I feel like I am supporting the lutherie industry but I also love these old dusty strings and get off on the stories and songs they all hold.

Besides, they are a lot older (and wiser) than I and have lasted this long. Yes, the bowlbacks seem esp fragile but with care they will outlast us all. And Gibson mandolins are built like tanks. Even the moderately abused ones are still playing.


Mar-02-2004, 9:38am
For me, it's a simple, unromantic matter of cost. I make my way through life on the paltry salary of a field biologist (i.e. one step north of the destitute border). With a little shopping practice, many old and/or historic instruments are simply cheaper than new instruments or modern reproductions. It's been my experience that this rule of thumb generally holds true for working-class instruments dating back to roughly (very roughly) 1830 or so; if you'd like an instrument of a style to predate ca. 1830, you're then better off to commission a reproduction. Of course, Eugene's general cheapness-of-antique-working-class-chordophones rule of thumb does not hold true for high-end instruments by luthiers of major repute like Staufer/Stauffer, Schertzer, the Vinaccia clan, Panormo, Calace, Embergher, Lacote, etc.

Mar-02-2004, 10:02am
And yet [QUOTE] "Eugene's general cheapness-of-antique-working-class-chordophones rule of thumb" does work— on occasion, at least http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/wink.gif

A few weeks ago, I was a-lurkin' again... German eBay this time. Someone had an, uhm, dunno, ooooold mandolin, hey, is it worth ANYthing, "ich weiß eigentlich nichts", it says 1886... So, I lurked, as it stagnated in the 50-euro range for a week or so. Unfortunately for me, some not-so-clueless folks skyrocketed it to the eight-HUNDRED euro range on the last day http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/sad.gif

Oh, by the way: It was a near-mint-condition, maple-bowl Vinaccia (as in Achille & Gennaro). Oh, how I would have gloated, had I caught this fish for under $100! But the gods protected me from such arrogance and conceit... http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/rock.gif

Mar-02-2004, 11:47am
Thanks guys. I too, obviously, love a Modern instrument like my guitars and Ukes, but I also really enjoy vintage instruments as well. I could build an A style Mando pretty easy I think, but these bowlback seem much harder and they seem to resonate with personality. I'm drawn to them beacause they seem to have a wonderful history, and air about them. Plus I can see some advantages, tone wise, in the design. Who knows. Right now I'm broke so unless someone wants to trade a mdel 6 for a Uke I'm left with looking at them anf planning on what I want.

Mar-02-2004, 11:58am
John, I think that there might be merit in looking for somebody on this board who has some good, vintage instruments who might be interested in swapping you for one of your ukes - rather than going the eBay route. Since there are a few guys here who have collected more than a few "project" bowl backs over the years...

The tonal characteristics of 100 year old, bent rosewood staves with a flat top differ significantly from a carved front/back instrument.

Another thing that moved me away from the Neopolitan style, was in fact: the Neopolitan style. I found myself more comfortable playing the (relatively) flat style instrument.

Mar-02-2004, 1:06pm
Yeah that would be ideal. #I have an all Flamed Koa Premium Uke that will be finished soon. #It is a $2,000 uke..pics can be seen here:
Mayes Ukulele (http://www.mayesguitars.com/forsale.html)

Mar-02-2004, 2:18pm
I'm tempted to offer my Martin style 6a for that uke... not sure if I really want to give in to that temptation, but...

Jim Garber
Mar-02-2004, 2:34pm
So, Peter, do you want us to talk you out of it or into it? #http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif

BTW if you are willing to part with your 6a, what is your main mandolin?


Mar-02-2004, 2:50pm
Not saying you should or should not or even if I would, but out of curiosity.. what is the difference betweent he 6 and the 6a. pics?

Mar-02-2004, 3:14pm
There are a few photos of my Martin on the third page of the "Post a picture of your bowlback" thread... try this link (hope it works):

http://www.mandolincafe.net/cgi-bin....8;st=50 (http://www.mandolincafe.net/cgi-bin/ikonboard.cgi?act=ST;f=15;t=8488;st=50)

To be honest, I don't really remember exactly what the style 6a was, but I think it's got less fancy decoration somewhereoranother. Mine's one of a handful ordered by a distributor who wanted plainer top trim (more of a player instrument, maybe?) - but it still has the style 6's fluted ribs. The fluted ribs some Important Person at Martin recently said they'd now have to charge something like $40000 for because of the labor involved.

Taking up the uke has been in the back of my mind for a while. I think some of my Russian-gypsy-guitarist-influenced picking hand techniques would transfer well. I don't think I'll ever need a $2000 uke, though... lovely as it may be.

The Martin is my only mando at the moment but I'd still have my tenor banjo, troll cittern and troll guitar for mando-family instruments.

Mar-02-2004, 3:34pm
Cool Mando there. I personally prefer the pickguard that goes under the soundhole though.

The uke is a super fun instrument to play. Really easy to play as well. You can find amny cool ones for much cheaper than $2K. Take a look at Kamaka, or an old martin. some of the old Martins are really nifty, and there is an abundance of them on Ebay.

Jim Garber
Mar-02-2004, 3:47pm
Not saying you should or should not or even if I would, but out of curiosity.. what is the difference betweent he 6 and the 6a. #pics?
Big difference visually between the 6 and the 6a. Lots of pearl all around and the same fluting on the back. Structurally they are close to the same tho.

My Style 6 (http://www.mandolincafe.net/cgi-bin/ikonboard.cgi?act=ST;f=6;t=11520;st=0) was the topic of discussion on this thread.

Bob A
Mar-02-2004, 5:38pm
I'd venture to suggest that John look to trade his uke to a dealer who might already hold a high-end, playable (probably) bowlback. (Unless Peter wants a uke more than a mando, of course).

There aren't a lot of decent bowlbacks sitting out in plain view for sale. I'd look at larkstreet.com, who have a pretty, fluted Celentino as well as a Veha Lansing Special. They've been gathering dust for over a year, so some stock shifting might be welcomed. Gruhn might have something, but I doubt it would've been put thru his shop, so it might require some work. Vintage Instruments in Philadelphia has a couple decent Martins, including a Style 4. Can't hurt to inquire. My suspicion is that all these instruments are nearly playable, maybe needing some setup work, easily within the competence of someone who builds instruments.

Larkstreet.com, Gruhn.com and vintage-instruments.com should reach them.

For what it's worth, as a carved-back player for decades, it took me 6-8 months to get used to a bowl. Now the only problem is my overall lack of talent.

Mar-02-2004, 5:49pm
Re: bowlbacks at Gruhn's. I was there very recently, and played said bowlbacks. Playability is marginal at best.

Jim Garber
Mar-02-2004, 6:26pm
And I played all the visible bowlbacks at Lark Street. Ditto to what Margora says there as well. True playability is questionable. In fact, I didn't even see that Celentano. It might be gone.

The aforementioned Martin at Rudy's is decent if you could get it for a lower price. As we've said before, they all need work.


Mar-02-2004, 6:29pm
Not saying you should or should not or even if I would, but out of curiosity.. what is the difference betweent he 6 and the 6a. #pics?
Big difference visually between the 6 and the 6a. Lots of pearl all around and the same fluting on the back. Structurally they are close to the same tho.

My Style 6 (http://www.mandolincafe.net/cgi-bin/ikonboard.cgi?act=ST;f=6;t=11520;st=0) was the topic of discussion on this thread.
Now THAT one I like:) Over the top? Sure. Johnny Likey! I like the simple ones too...arghhh

Mar-02-2004, 6:34pm
Re: bowlbacks at Gruhn's. #I was there very recently, and played said bowlbacks. #Playability is marginal at best.
I take it your talking about the style 3 martin? could you elaborate on it...I have no problem taking it on if I have to do a little repair and adjustment so long as nothing MAJOR is screwy... That Fancy Washburn looks nifty too...

Jim Garber
Mar-02-2004, 9:15pm
I would say that a pearl fretboard while certainly flashy would be a pain to refret. You would also need sunglasses to play it. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/cool.gif


Mar-02-2004, 10:01pm
well the re-fret would not be so hard..but if it needed releving..then that would suck...but just extra sanding..I dig it!

Mar-03-2004, 8:30pm
John, if you want an over-the-top American mandolin try to find one closer to 1900 than 1920; pearl engraving is generally much more finely-executed in earlier mandolins.

I definitely need a mandolin more than I need a high-end uke, as delectably tempting as yours may look. Good luck on your search, though.

Mar-05-2004, 5:03pm
Did you see that Fratelli Calace that was supposed to close on Tuesday? It hovered at ca. $50 until Tuesday morning when the high bid jumped to $860. The seller cancelled the sale and just relisted it at opening bid $1000. Victor, it seems that the gods are checking my hybris, as well!

Pathemata mathemata. . .

Bob A
Mar-05-2004, 10:51pm
Didn't see the original auction, but saw the one that opens at a grand. Looks like another heartbreaking couple of years at the restorer's, to me. I don't have so much time left to go thru any more of those. And the mandolin didn't look all that hot to start with. And it's probably not from the best period, anyway. And the tone is sure to be sour. (That would be more appropriately amusing if it were a vinaccia, of course).

Mar-06-2004, 2:48am
And the tone is sure to be sour.

What exactly does it mean to be 'sour', and why in the case of this Calace is it a sure thing? Can the tone be sweetened again?

Mar-06-2004, 9:50am
[QUOTE]"What exactly does it mean to be 'sour'..."

Dean: Bob, possessed of a truly encyclopedic intellect, was drawing a grand, mental traverse from Aesop to, ehm... Kioulaphides http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/wink.gif Alluding thus to my own ramble on vinaccia (please note the lower case "V"), as per the homonymous thread, in conjuction with uncle Aesop's well-known tale of The Fox and the Sour Grapes. It takes great finesse to pull off that king of allusion; I tip my hat to Bob A, once again.

Mar-06-2004, 11:38am
Alas, I should have caught that. #How embarrassing. #http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif #But when one is new to these things, one latches on to every word uttered by those who possess more wisdom and experience. #I suppose it's like the ol' bacon stretcher routine in boy scouts.

Jim Garber
Mar-06-2004, 1:34pm
I suppose it's like the ol' bacon stretcher routine in boy scouts.
Boy, I must be missing something here also... Was there a reference to bacon stretching? Or is it Bacon mandolin stretching...


Bob A
Mar-06-2004, 2:07pm
I recall being sent out to procure a hundred feet of shore line. Can't use it on mandolins, of course.

"Encyclopedic", forsooth. Amazingly loosely-connected, perhaps; obscure, certainly; tangential even. Still, it is nice to be appreciated. (I was sure Victor would get the vinous vinaccia allusion, but I feared Aesop might not be so easily referenced, overall. Nevertheless, once I see a glimmer of a punch line, I can't seem to stop myself. Your tolerance is appreciated, certainly).

Mar-06-2004, 3:31pm
Tolerance? No, Bob, it is YOUR prose that is appreciated! Quite refreshing, after all the contractual legalese I am forced to read in my line of business in arts management.

Now, folks, I am at a loss as to which thread to post the good news on: Should it be this one, the one on Vinaccia (where I just sent my telepathic "yoo-hoo" to Raffaele Jr.), or the Calace proper thread?

Anyhow, I was just apprised (via e-mail, incredible as that might seem in light of Raffaele's modus operandi) that my ex utero Calace has been finished, buffed up to a shiny, happy face, and shipped to me just as of yesterday.

I await with bated ("baited"?) breath...

Jim Garber
Mar-06-2004, 3:44pm
Congratulations on another birth in your family, Victor.

I hope to meet this new addition soon (hint), assuming we can ever coordinate our busy schedules. Got a few Gervasio duets and some other items in store (and working on them).

Let us know when the new Calace arrives and your impressions.

My only experience with a Calace was Barry Mitterhoffs maple bowled one I tried a few years back. It was a nice one.


Mar-07-2004, 2:34pm
[QUOTE]"My only experience with a Calace was Barry Mitterhoffs maple bowled one I tried a few years back. It was a nice one."

Yes, I remember our conversation on that one; a Classico B. I recall you saying that it was nice and even, if also somewhat subdued. But, then again, it was still wet behind the ears when you heard it...

In general, I think that people are unduly harsh in their criticism of brand-new instruments. It would be unfair, for example, to put down a young wine for lacking the qualities of an old one— a good young wine, that is; poor young wines simply continue to ferment all the way down to vinegar— BAD vinegar, at that!

On the other hand, a good, young wine ought to naturally mature into a fine old one. Similarly, a well-built, new mandolin ought to mature into a full, open-sounding old(er) one with continuous playing and all the minor adjustments that will inevitably come to be needed. Such are my modest but realistic hopes for this new baby, NOT that it will sound like my 1880's Ceccherini that I have been playing incessantly, day in, day out, since last May, and has a century-plus of "lifetime experience". Let us see...

More on this anon.

Jim Garber
Mar-07-2004, 5:28pm
I think Barry's was at least 10 years old when I tried it, On the other hand I was not attuned to the joys and sounds of the bowlback. Also, Barry mainly plays his 1941 F5 for almost everything but uses that only on occasions like "Renaissance" Fairs and the like, for that antique look.

My opinion on the maturity of instruments: I think one even a brand new on has to sound good to begin with. They all get better with age -- as we all do, right? On the other hand, I wonder about buying something with the idea that right now it is all right but down the road it will sound incredible is a somewhat erroneous assumption.

BTW I am certainly not against new instuments at all. My Pandini was just made last year but sounds (to me) great from the start. If, after many years of playing, it sounds even better, i will not complain.


Mar-08-2004, 9:32am
THAT's the spirit, Jim! http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif

You are right, of course: Buying an instrument now ought to deliver some gratification now. Anything else is too fuzzy and speculative an expectation.

I cannot speak of your Pandini, as I only saw it but did not play it or hear it. I would certainly expect it to get even better, i.e. more complex in tone with time. That seems to be the quality most often lacking in new instruments and I, for one, am perfectly willing to excuse it as the blank, tabula rasa state of youth.

Bob A
Mar-08-2004, 12:05pm
Now the eager waiting really commences.

My Kevorkian is still echoing with the raw voice of youth, but it is a pleasant voice for all its lack of sophistication, and I find that I pick it up nearly every day - certainly every time I play a bowlback: both from a desire to bring it along, tonally, and from a certain affection for its sound. Being robust in construction, I go so far as to play it with the grandson. It's his conceit that he's helping the situation by damping the strings while I attempt to serenade him. It's my conceit that prevents me from thinking that he's correct.

Young bowlbacks are not readily found hereabouts. My theory is that they ought to break in rather more readily than the carved-top examples, due to diminished mass of soundboard. I figure on five to ten years to get a Gibson-style instrument into its full voice. I should think a couple years ought to suffice for a lighter instrument. I'd welcome any comments on this time thing, from those who've experienced it.