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danb
Jul-25-2006, 3:31pm
Here's a really wild and rare instrument. This is a Bohman Mandolin made in Chicago back in the early 1900s. What sets this one apart from the ordinary is a set of tuning rods suspended inside the body- 4 of them to be exact.. that were tunable (or tightenable I suppose) with screws near the tailpiece, and had a clever little mute switch right next to the soundhole.

Here's the body

danb
Jul-25-2006, 3:31pm
Nice looking back

danb
Jul-25-2006, 3:32pm
I'll try several shots of this mute mechanism. It's not that distant from a ballpoint button system. You press down once, one foot of a wishbone releases a flat spring of metal with felt on it, freeing the internal rods to vibrate. They hummed very weakly when free, but perhaps some adjustment is required

danb
Jul-25-2006, 3:33pm
Another view of the mute, resonating rods more in focus

danb
Jul-25-2006, 3:33pm
Nuts to tighten the rods

danb
Jul-25-2006, 3:34pm
Another lousy photo, the unusual carved tailpiece

danb
Jul-25-2006, 3:35pm
Pretty wild tuners too

danb
Jul-25-2006, 3:37pm
It's playable, but I sure wonder what it would sound like with a setup on those "humming rods" inside.

Personal story- years ago at Milwaukee Irish fest I saw one of these for sale. I was pretty mystified by it. I recall the rods buzzing and ringing just like a tuning fork. The seller told me he thought they were for tuning the strings! I had no cash back then or I would have bought it out of curiousity!

Eugene
Jul-25-2006, 9:03pm
What a freak, from tuners to scratchplate to vibrating sympathetic rods! I suspect you know this tidbit, Dan, but Bohmann is reputed to be the earliest regular producer of mandolins in America. I never quite grasped his shop's quirky sense of aesthetic. Most of the old Bohmann bowlbacks I've come across are plagued with top cracks.

Jim Garber
Jul-25-2006, 9:36pm
I have seen an early 1890s Bohmann mandola. I also believe that he used those tuning rods in his violins and used sympathetic strings in some of his monster harp guitars.

Jim

Jim Garber
Jul-25-2006, 9:43pm
Gregg Miner has more info on Bohmann than you would ever want:

Bohmann, page 1 (http://www.harpguitars.net/history/bohmann/bohmann1.htm)

Bohmann, page 2 (http://www.harpguitars.net/history/bohmann/bohmann2.htm)

About the tone bars:
Perhaps the most famous Bohmann instruments are the “sympathetic string” instruments. Though most owners or writers have referred to these internal sympathetics as "strings," I'm positive that they are all, in fact, the metal rods specified in Bohmann’s patent # 1,128,217 of 1915. The rods were stiff, made out of specific materials (for each described note!) and tuned with wing nuts to these specific pitches just like a string. There was also a damping bar, activated via a push button in the guitar top. This invention was applied to mandolins and standard guitars, of which some examples are known. Three harp guitars of this type are known, which all appear to be from the 1914-1916 timeframe, as they include all the features included in Bohmann's next patent, # 1,179,499 of 1916. These include the sloped shoulders to provide “cutaway” access to higher frets, a bizarre hand rest, and the incredibly thick convex top and back (part of the earlier patent also).



Jim

Jul-25-2006, 9:54pm
Look for Joseph's face on the label...

danb
Jul-26-2006, 6:45am
Oh! It looks like Gregg has never seen one in person from that description. I'll have to fill him in http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif

Jim Garber
Jul-26-2006, 9:25am
Look for Joseph's face on the label...
Here is another alternate label.

Jim

Jim Garber
Jul-26-2006, 9:28am
I was able to find that patent with some interesting description of the rods and the purpose of them. Unfortunately, they changed the formatting of the patent site and you can't actually downlaod the actual scans any more.

There was a mention in the patent tho that for the mandolins he recommends bars of 1/16 inch diam. vs. 1/8 inch for the guitars.

Jim

Jul-26-2006, 9:41am
The picture I had was from a#bowlback I sold last year. I used a small internal camera to get in and get close to his face. I love this guys labels. They are a real treat.

Jim Garber
Jul-26-2006, 1:42pm
Joseph Bohmann was not the humblest of luthiers...

Jul-26-2006, 2:05pm
Joseph Bohmann was not the humblest of luthiers...
It's hard to be humble when you're the worlds greatest musical instrument builder http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif

Rick Turner
Jul-26-2006, 3:46pm
You guys are killing me with this stuff! I love it...

Jim Garber
Jul-26-2006, 4:10pm
You can read the patent for the metal bars here (http://patimg1.uspto.gov/.piw?Docid=01128217&homeurl=http%3A%2F%2Fpatft.uspto.gov%2Fnetacgi%2Fn ph-Parser%3FSect1%3DPTO1%2526Sect2%3DHITOFF%2526d%3DP ALL%2526p%3D1%2526u%3D%25252Fnetahtml%25252FPTO%25 252Fsrchnum.htm%2526r%3D1%2526f%3DG%2526l%3D50%252 6s1%3D1,128,217.PN.%2526OS%3DPN%2F1,128,217%2526RS %3DPN%2F1,128,217&PageNum=&Rtype=&SectionNum=&idkey=NONE&Input=View+first+page).

Jim

PaulD
Jul-26-2006, 5:06pm
Dan... cool instrument. Do you have a better shot of the bridge? From the full-frontal shot it looks pretty tall. I like the fingerboard extension. It looks a little like it melted, ran onto the top, and is dripping over the soundhole. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif

pd

danb
Jul-26-2006, 5:26pm
Sorry, that's all I have for pictures. I'll shoot again next visit to the states http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif

Jim Garber
Jul-26-2006, 5:45pm
So, Dan... I guess you don't own this beauty?

Jim

danb
Jul-26-2006, 5:49pm
No, I only have an F4, an A4, a 10-string vega, and a reso tenor guitar these days!

Jim Garber
Jul-26-2006, 5:54pm
No, I only have an F4, an A4, a 10-string vega, and a reso tenor guitar these days!
Ah, travelling light...

Jim

JEStanek
Jul-26-2006, 5:54pm
But he's got the best darned photo album I've ever seen.

Jamie

Dr.Tweak
Jul-29-2006, 10:48pm
I was having trouble saving patent tiff images, too. I fixed the problem by completely uninstalling Quicktime, from the control panel, and then going to the websiteAlternate Tiff Viewer (http://www.alternatiff.com/install/)and installing their tiff viewer. This will give you a toolbar with a save icon over the patent image, on the USPTO website.

Jim Garber
Jul-30-2006, 7:48am
Actually, I work on a Mac and was having problems in Firefox whereas Safari allows me to download the actual tiffs. Not sure why, but it does.

Jim

Dr.Tweak
Jul-30-2006, 11:04am
I've put Bohmann's patent into pdf format and it can be downloaded here My Webpage (http://home.comcast.net/~adlereric/Bohmann_mandolin_patent.pdf)

danb
Jul-30-2006, 11:59am
No, I only have an F4, an A4, a 10-string vega, and a reso tenor guitar these days!
Ah, travelling light...

Jim
Not so light I suppose. I like doing "Catch and release" collecting, but I don't have anything I can release right now!

Hambonepicker
Aug-06-2006, 12:12am
Would like to correspond with owner of the Bohmann pictured in this post. Have some older Bohmann mandolins with the sympathetic tone bars myself.
Hambonepicker

danb
Aug-06-2006, 4:21am
Hambonepicker- I forwarded your message to the owner of the mandolin pictured above.. please could you mail me images of yours too? Would love to see what you have http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif

Hambonepicker
Aug-06-2006, 5:51am
What I have on my laptop computer here at work (out of town) is fairly low quality images. Wait till I get home and I will take some better snaps.
Hambonepicker

Hambonepicker
Aug-06-2006, 6:21am
Where it says, "the modern mandolin posted above," it refers to the mandolin posted at the beginning of this thread...

The metal bars in the modern mandolin posted above appear to be larger in diameter than what I have here. The ones I have have six bars, or are drilled for 6 bars. The bridge(patented on Jan 19, 1915) on the Bohmann modern mandolin is not on the bowlback pictured here. You should be able to see from the color that the bars are made of at least two different metals. One on the left was bent out of its original shape under the soundhole, so itlooks misaligned but is not.

Is the modern Bohmann above a tapered body instrument that is wider in the center and narrower in the upper and lower bouts, or is it a flatback with a taper from one end to the other?
If the modern Bohmann is a tapered body instrument, wider in the middle, then it is in the same class as some instruments mentioned on Gregg Miner's harpguitars.net site and described in further detail on Frank Fords site at frets.com, which instruments also have palm rest mutes and not simply the built-in mute switch pictured on the modern Bohmann above. The patent for the tapered body was issued April 18, 1916.

The original Bohmann, and his son Joseph, as well, were quite talented.
hambonepicker

Jim Garber
Aug-06-2006, 8:35am
Hambonepicker:
I read your post above a few times and am still confused about what you are talking about. What modern mandolin?

Jim

Rick Turner
Aug-06-2006, 9:46am
"Modern" in this case would be non-bowl backed. That was modern in the context of the early 20th Century!

Hambonepicker
Aug-06-2006, 10:33am
Sorry for the lack of clarity.

Modern mandolin (again) refers to the Bohmann at the beginning of this thread... and refers to the general shape of the mandolin, being a more modern shape for Bohmann, whether it be an A type, or tapered at the top and bottom... or with Bohmann's distinctive top cutaway on both sides of the neck joint, as on the mandolin at the beginning of this thread.

For a good example, copy this link below into your browser to see the guitar counterpart to the mandolin that started this thread at Frank Fords' web site :

http://www.frets.com/FRETSPa....hg.html (http://www.frets.com/FRETSPages/Museum/Guitar/Antique/BohmannHG/bohmannhg.html)

Regards,
Hambonepicker

Jim Garber
Aug-06-2006, 2:28pm
Where it says, "the modern mandolin posted above," it refers to the mandolin posted at the beginning of this thread...
Sorry, maybe I am missing something here. "Where it says..." where what says? Are you quoting some source?

I seem to have come in the middle of a conversation and can't find the references.

Oh I think I get it... you are referring you your own comments?

Jim

Hambonepicker
Aug-06-2006, 3:29pm
Yep, I refer to my own comments. And I rest my case. Jim, you want a cup of coffee?

BTW, I don't think Bohmann ever put any metal rods in his violins. Probably the most famous musician playing a Bohmann instrument was the bass player in the Bill Evans jazz trio, who played a 5 string Bohmann bass. He said it was the loudest bass he ever heard, and it had no metal rods in it.

Bohmann worked in Germany at a journeyman level before coming to the USA, having training in traditional lutherie, i.e., violin making, and would have no reason to depart from traditional violin construction by adding something like bars. To the contrary, he recreated the violin designs (externally, at least) of Maggini and Stradivari, his predecessors.

At least, I would need to see some compelling reason for it before I believed Bohmann put metal rods in a string instrument; or a violin itself with the metal rods in it. The violins did not need it. Talking to two different people who either had access to or had the oppportunity to buy a crate or crates of Bohmann violins from the factory sellout, neither one mentioned anything about any bars in them.

One bowlback Bohmann I have with holes drilled for the bars seems to be a factory second. One I have with bars, I am not so sure about, until I see more examples of Bohmann mandolins. The one with bars is what I call a plain jane model, alternating strips of birdseye maple and cherry wood on the back. The build quality of the Bohmann mandolins I have leaves a lot to be desired. It would appear these Bohmann bowlbacks were early experiments with internal metal bars before the patents were issued for them.

There may be far more to say about this in the future, but you have my opinion in a nutshell.
Adopt my opinions at your own peril.

Regards,
hambonepicker
P.S. Is it a tradition to pick on a new member after the new member makes their very first post? Just wondering...

Jim Garber
Aug-06-2006, 3:52pm
P.S. Is it a tradition to pick on a new member after the new member makes their very first post? Just wondering...
Sorry, man! I did not intend to pick on you. I was just trying to figure out if I was crazy or missing some info. It sounds like you are quite knowledgeable on Mr. Bohmann's work and we all could learn a lot from you. In any case, welcome and accept my apology, but it was not intended to deride you, just to clarify for me what you were saying.

Jim

danb
Aug-06-2006, 3:53pm
Hambone,

I'm not sure where I got this idea, but I always figured the mandolin design was evocative of that of a hardanger fiddle, which has sympathitic drone strings that run under the fingerboard and onto a lower half of the bridge. They create a sort of "hum" as you play.

Jim Garber
Aug-06-2006, 4:01pm
There was a seller on ebay some time ago who had a whole collection of Bohmann mandolin and violin carcasses (less hardware). I have some jpegs of the mandolins but thought I had some of the violins as well.

Gruhn has two Bohmann violins. here is the odder or the two with some strange bas relief double purfling and other odd carving, like around the ff-holes.

http://www.gruhn.com/photo/VF2376.jpg

Jim

Jim Garber
Aug-06-2006, 4:02pm
I also had this Bohmann ad in my files.

Jim

Hambonepicker
Aug-06-2006, 4:20pm
The double purfling on the violin would be after Maggini.
Can't find the genuine item on short notice, but here is a link to another Maggini replica ca. 1900 below :

http://www.pamelasmusic.co.uk/images/Forsale/bowed/violin/V256.htm

The Maggini violins of Bohmann are not that good in sound quality. Backs are high arched and thick. Here is one for auction at eBay currently :

<a href="http://cgi.ebay.com/Rare-100-year-Old-Violin-full-size-4-4-Item-4_W0QQitemZ150018238433QQihZ005QQcategoryZ3810
8QQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem" target="_blank">http://cgi.ebay.com/Rare-10....iewItem</a>

later,
hambonepicker

Hambonepicker
Aug-06-2006, 4:21pm
Dan,

Give me more info on the hardanger fiddle.
hambone

Hambonepicker
Aug-06-2006, 4:37pm
Ahh, here is the genuine Maggini.

http://www.maggini.at/

Notice the Bohmann connection (Germany), with some discussion of why people liked Maggini knockoffs here :

http://www.mofiddles.com/maggini/index.html

Maggini violins dropped in popularity the last half of the 19th century; they had a nice tone, but were not overly loud. As concert halls became bigger, performers began to want violins with more volume and projection, such as Stradivaris and Guarneris.
hambone

Hambonepicker
Aug-06-2006, 5:26pm
Just found out from someone who has sold around 100 Bohmann violins that he saw only one Bohmann violin with metal rods in it. Don't know who bought it from him.
hambonepicker

danb
Aug-06-2006, 5:28pm
Dan,

Give me more info on the hardanger fiddle.
hambone
Here's a good link:
http://www.hfaa.org/hardanger_fiddle.html

danb
Aug-06-2006, 5:31pm
Chorus effect. I'm a fan of virzi tone producers, resonator instruments, and other "odd" vintage approaches to acoustic tone manipulation.. I always considered the Bohmann sympathetic rods as being from the same school of thought as the hardanger.

Check out the sound clips. One of my favorite pieces of trad music is a recording by Aly Bain, on a Hardanger fiddle, of a French Canadian tune called "The Hanged Man's Reel". Played in AEAC# tuning, on a hardanger. He also used one in DDAD tuning for Bonaparte's retreat, a great american old-timey sound with all the drones you can imagine, a fantastic mountain sound. Where fiddle, dulcimer, and 10-string bouzoukis meet http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif

Hambonepicker
Aug-06-2006, 5:32pm
Dan,

If you like sympathetic strings, you will love some of this luthier's instruments :

http://www.beyondthetrees.com/

Regards,
hambonepicker

danb
Aug-06-2006, 6:50pm
Yes, I've seen those. Very interesting, it'd sure be fun to try one. I have played 10-string flat-back bouzoukis before (and have a vintage 10-string vega cylinder mandola at the moment).. I've always liked the dulcimer-ish drones you can get going with them, that mountain sound. Proto-old-timey, retrograss. Something like that...

Hambonepicker
Aug-06-2006, 7:02pm
For mountain dulcimer, you can't go wrong with this guy's (Neil Hellman) label. Specifically, get his CD titled Autumn in the Valley at this location :

http://www.gourd.com/gourdhome.html

Several different interesting ensembles on the CD. Look at his catalog for what you may like of the celtic flavor. One or two CD's by Martin Simpson, and so forth.

hambonepicker

Hambonepicker
Aug-06-2006, 7:44pm
Have not heard them all; but particularly liked Laurie Lewis's The Maple's Lament.
hambonepicker

Jim Garber
Aug-06-2006, 8:27pm
Here's some paraphrasing form Henley's Universal Dictionary of Violin and Bow Makers:


Bohmann, Joseph.
Born at Neumarkt (Bohemia), 1848. Went to the United States, 1873. Opened a factory and a large music warehouse at Chicago, 1878, and titled it 'American Musical Industry.'... Challenged the world, 1888, throuhg the Inter-Ocean papers, that he could produce finer stringed instruments than any other manufacturer.
...
Owned a genuine Maggini (on which he was a very capable performer)... Produced several magnificent copies of this model, with ornamental inlay on the back, double purfling, and built to have as near an approach to the old tone as possible.

...

Inventor of a new 'staccato' bow, with a large aperture in the fore part of the saddle for the thumb to fit...

Jim

Hambonepicker
Aug-06-2006, 9:00pm
Excellent. Plenty in Henley on Bohmann and his instruments, in contrast to another more famous American luthier, C.F. Martin, who is never mentioned by name in the violinmakers books, as far as I know. Where can I find a library with those books?
hambonepicker

Jim Garber
Aug-06-2006, 9:39pm
From Henley (not too much of a mention):

Martin, C. Frederick.
Born at Vienna 1825. Worked at Nazareth (New York). Died 1888. Chiefly guitars. Also a few ordinary violins. Branded "C.F. Martin. New York".

Pretty sketchy and strange "Nazareth (New York)"? Not only that but it refers to CF Martin, Jr only and not Senior. CFM was born in 1796 in Markneukirchen, apprenticed in Vienna and died in 1873. Oh well.

The standard violin reference books should be in any decent size library.

Jim

Hambonepicker
Aug-07-2006, 6:24am
There is another nameless mention somewhere, I will have to dig through months of email to find it. C.F. Martin Senior was not considered important by the violin makers guild. He was a cabinetmaker (building instrument cases) who filed a lawsuit in 1832 or 1833 to be able to build guitars without being a guild member. He won the lawsuit but by then had moved to America where he could build guitars without going through the violinmakers guild.
Will try to find the other reference, it will be a few days.
hambonepicker

Jim Garber
Aug-07-2006, 7:23am
According to Wenberg's Violin Makers of the United States, CFM, Sr. did build a few violins. Henley is very opinionated and prob didn't feel like bothering with the Senior. My edition is from the 1980s so possibly he is included in later ones.

Jim

Paul Hostetter
Aug-11-2006, 5:28pm
For mountain dulcimer, you can't go wrong with this guy's (Neil Hellman) label. Specifically, get his CD titled Autumn in the Valley. . .

Nice to see Neal mentioned. My wife Robin and I both play on that album. Neal somehow imagines me to be a banjo player. I think I'm on ten of those tracks, mostly playing banjo!

Hambonepicker
Aug-11-2006, 5:36pm
Paul
Can't remember who turned me on to the Helman and friends CD. Might have been Presto with P,P, & M. Awesome playing. If I recall, you play harmonica on the opening track. As for Neil - fantastic playing and what a marvelous sound he gets out of his mountain dulcimer. I don't remember seeing Robin in the credits, but who can remember everything they see? Some of that CD's unusual ensemble combinations were dlieghtful, I can imagine a big fall harvest dance in the old days with all those instruments showing up.

Are you set to meet up with Dan this weekend?
Hambonepicker
Bruce

brunello97
Jan-30-2009, 9:05am
Here is an asymmetrical variant of a Bohman bulgy-back for comparison with the mandolin pictured in this threads initial post. This guy's design sensibility was flat-out.

http://cgi.ebay.com/Old-Vintage-Joseph-Bohmann-Mandolin-c-1910_W0QQitemZ150323334049QQcmdZViewItemQQptZLH_De faultDomain_0?hash=item150323334049&_trksid=p3286.c0.m14&_trkparms=72%3A1205%7C66%3A2%7C65%3A12%7C39%3A1%7C 240%3A1318%7C301%3A1%7C293%3A1%7C294%3A50

Mick

MikeEdgerton
Jan-31-2009, 8:23am
...This guy's design sensibility was flat-out...

Well of course it was, he was after all "The Greatest Musical Instrument Builder In The World" ! :)

gweetarpicker
Feb-03-2009, 2:22pm
Here's a Bohmann family photo with mandocello, octave mandolin, mandola and mandolin all with sympathetic internal bars.

MANDOLINMYSTER
Feb-03-2009, 8:26pm
Thats an outstanding collection.:)

gweetarpicker
Feb-05-2009, 9:21pm
Here's a close up up the internal bars and the damper that is used to silence the internal bars if desired.