View Full Version : Merrill bowlback

Jim M.
May-12-2006, 3:22pm
Bowlback MAS flared, and this is on the way to me from Bernunzio:


Jim M.
May-12-2006, 3:23pm
And the back:


Jim M.
May-12-2006, 3:24pm
A close-up:

So I've read some history on these. Patented in 1897, iirc. Does anyone know any sources of history about them?

Jim Garber
May-12-2006, 4:22pm
You probably already found Mike Holme's Aluminum Instruments (http://www.mugwumps.com/aluminum.htm). That should hold you.


May-12-2006, 8:00pm
These were wacky. Enjoy.

May-15-2006, 7:19am
How does it play? My guess is, like a typical bowlback, that is, the aluminum bowl shouldn't affect the sound much or at all. Does it?

Martin Jonas
May-15-2006, 9:22am
I seem to recall that on previous discussions, these were indeed thought to sound much like a typical bowlback, because it's the top that's largely responsible for tone. However, there were also some bowlbacks that were entirely made of aluminium, top and bowl, and I'm much less sure about the tone of those. There's a discussion here (http://www.mandolincafe.net/cgi-bin/ikonboard.cgi?act=ST;f=12;t=21267;hl=aluminum+and+ bowlback), but the Ebay auction linked in the initial post has long since expired.


May-15-2006, 12:45pm
In an odd coincidence, I just bought a Merrill on eBay, and started a thread under "Vintage Instruments."

Merrill Aluminum Mandolin (http://www.mandolincafe.net/cgi-bin/ikonboard.cgi?act=ST;f=27;t=34700)

I've owned an aluminum bass fiddle (probably of European origin, since it has a wooden neck, and the American aluminum basses apparently had aluminum necks) for about ten years, and had to go for an aluminum mando. I have also seen an all-aluminum bowl-back, with metal top and neck, which was painted purple. The Merrill doesn't sound greatly different from my other bowl-back (a rosewood turn-of-the-20th-century Victoria which was in my grandfather's attic), but it does have a slight metallic overtone.