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Salmon Man
Nov-20-2006, 6:24pm
I've been playing my family's old Martin 2-15 (A-body with F holes) and wondered if this mando or Martins in general have a certain reputation? #Mine's a 1961, BTW.
Is it all about The Gibson?

Thanks

JGWoods
Nov-20-2006, 7:43pm
They were well made, they are underpriced, there is little demand for them right now but that doesn't speak to the fine quality of the instrument. They are fine in Old Time, Celtic, jazz, and plain old pickin' on the porch. I have a similar mandolin that I play often.
If you take it to a bluegrass pickin' party you might get an odd look or two and it won't produce the chop sound so desired when playing BG rhythm.

evanreilly
Nov-20-2006, 9:49pm
Martin made a lot of mandolins. I kind of like it that their mandolins are often appointed just like their guitars. And I am sure they are made with the same level of craftsmanship.
Maybe Bill Monroe's mom had one?

John Flynn
Nov-21-2006, 12:05am
I heard or read that Norman Blake said he keeps a Martin mando sitting on the couch at home. It is the mando he picks up when the muse strikes him. Sometimes he will just walk around the house playing it. So while you'll never see him perform with it, a Martin mando may be where a lot of Blake's great stuff gets started.

Eugene
Nov-21-2006, 9:30am
I'm going to quibble just a bit, Salmon Man, and offer that a Martin 2-15 does not have an "A" body. #In spite of their general application in the US, Gibson's style designations had nothing to do with Martin's mandolin line. #Martin's style A had specific meaning: canted top and flat mahogany back in its mature form.

Frankly, I think Martin's mandolins are some of the most finely crafted American production mandolins ever (I'm especially fond of pre-depression instruments), but they are not what is usually expected of bluegrass instruments. #Bowlbacks ranged from styles 000 to 7, flat mandolins ranged from styles A to E, and archtops (a la Gibson) ranged from 15 to 30 (oval holes) and 2-15 to 2-30 (f holes). #I am fortunate to have a friend who owns a style 30 (one of only two ever catalogued and probably the only of the two surviving); it may be the finest craftsmanship I've seen in an American production instrument. #Personally, I think the oval-hole models were the best of Martin's archtop production. #In spite of the excellent crafstmanship they represent, the f-holed series just seems a little too trebly and thin-voiced to me. #Also, I've seen more of the f-holed instruments to have had the soundboard collapse between bridge and tailpiece than would seem coincidence. #For an oval-hole Martin in proto-bluegrass, check out the Blue Sky Boys.

My main mandolin is a Martin (1908 one-of-a-kind bowlback), but I play classical music. #It is plenty loud enough when strung lightly and played with a pointy pick and appropriate technique; I have performed alongside a grand piano (an instrument with real hall-filling volume) or ensembles of up to 10 or so (including woodwinds, percussion, concert harp, and piano) and been heard. #You can see mine on the 2nd and 3rd pages of this epic thread (http://www.mandolincafe.net/cgi-bin/ikonboard.cgi?act=ST;f=15;t=14185) (and a whole lot of more ornate Martins on the other pages). #You can also see mine if you click the link to my profile.

Eugene
Nov-21-2006, 9:37am
PS: Check out the couple of marvelous articles by Bob Devellis about Martin flat-back and bowlback mandolins at this link (http://bellsouthpwp.com/r/d/rdevelli/ip3mand.htm).

mrmando
Nov-21-2006, 11:49am
I'm a big fan of the 2-15. You're lucky to have one.

Celtic Saguaro
Nov-21-2006, 2:13pm
Thanks Eugene.

Last week, I bought a Martin model A from the 1950's. I'm having a lot of fun with it. The strings are ancient so I haven't given it a fair test yet. Even as is, the treble side is very nice and over all it's a pleasure to play.

billkilpatrick
Nov-21-2006, 4:46pm
is there any relation between the mandolins made by martin and those made by levin, the swedish instrument makers?

every now and then a levin mandolin comes up for auction on german ebay and i'd like to know if it's worth the 200+ currently on offer for one of them.

- bill

cooper4205
Nov-21-2006, 10:25pm
Bollick also played a lyon & healy oval hole didn't he?

Eugene
Nov-21-2006, 11:19pm
is there any relation between the mandolins made by martin and those made by levin, the swedish instrument makers?

every now and then a levin mandolin comes up for auction on german ebay and i'd like to know if it's worth the 200+ currently on offer for one of them.

- bill
Nope. Martin's relationship with Levin was different than that with the earlier retailers who commissioned Martin instruments for house brands. Martin brieflly owned Levin, having bought the shop and name in the 1970s, but didn't build their mandolin models for the Swedish label.

Eugene
Nov-21-2006, 11:23pm
Bollick also played a lyon & healy oval hole didn't he?
Not that I'm aware. Bollick played a Martin style 20, which had two points and thus looked superficially similar to L&H's style B. If somebeody knows otherwise, I'm happy to receive correction.

cooper4205
Nov-21-2006, 11:54pm
i was just going of a pic i have, i thought it was a lyon & healy- but i have know to be wrong plenty of times http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif . i will try and find it

Willie Poole
Nov-22-2006, 11:39pm
Eugene...I talked to a fellow at a festival after he came off of the stage and asked him what kind of mandolin he was playing and he said it was an old Martin...Heres the question...It looked like an F-5...Did Martin make any F model like mandolins? This was the old man that fronts the band called "Gold Wing"...I have heard from one fellow that he has saw two in Pa...I am just curious....Thanks....Willie

allenhopkins
Nov-23-2006, 10:10am
According to Mike Longworth's history of the C.F. Martin Co., they never made a Florentine style (scroll and points) mandolin -- one that "looks like an F-5." Martin first entered the mandolin market around 1896, making a "G" series of bowl-backs, about which even the company doesn't know much. Starting around 1898, Martin made ten styles of bowl-back mandolin, Style 1-7 and Style 0-000, stopping production in the 1920's. They made five styles of mandolins with "flat," bent tops, Styles A-E, with some koa variants such as the style B-K, from the 1920's through the mid-1940's. They made two styles of carved-top mandolins, Style 15 and Style 20, with round soundholes, again 1920's-'40's. Finally, they made three styles of mandolin with carved top and f-holes, Style 2-15, 2-20 and 2-30, again stopping production in the 1940's.
Apparently, the only two models that continued in production were the "flat" (bent-top) Style A, which was being made at the rate of 240 a year into the mid-'70's, and the carved-top, f-hole 2-15, which was made in similar numbers at least until 1965. In both cases these were the "low end" of each series.
To make a long story short, if someone has a Florentine F-style mandolin, it isn't a Martin production model. It's possible but unlikely that Martin would have special-ordered one. The Martin carved-top models had a distinctive two-point shape, quite different from the Gibson F models.

cooper4205
Nov-23-2006, 10:19am
it might be a Sigma by Martin F-style

Eugene
Nov-23-2006, 10:22am
I'm not aware of any F-5 style mandolins labeled "Martin" by Martin facilities. #None of the published books on Martin refer to any such things, the most comprehensive being Longworth (1988/1994). #I've run across a claim like this before, but when I actually saw the instrument it turned out to be a Sigma (of course, Martin's overseas "b" brand and not built by Martin's PA facilities). #My suspicion is that Gold Wing's mandolin may be a Sigma (and the guy is a little shy about admitting it), a late Vega (and the guy is drawing some speculation knowing Martin came to briefly own the Vega name in the 1970s), or was fraudulently labeled "Martin" and the poor guy was duped. #I'd want to see it before I settled on any conclusion.

PS: Please pardon my simultaneous-typing redundancy to the above couple replies.

Eugene
Nov-23-2006, 10:32am
They made two styles of carved-top mandolins, Style 15 and Style 20, with round soundholes, again 1920's-'40's.
They actually had three oval-holed archtop models: 15, 20, and 30. #However, only two style 30s were ever produced according to Martin logs. #See above and Longworth (1988/1994, p. 194, 298-299).


The Martin carved-top models had a distinctive two-point shape, quite different from the Gibson F models.
Of course, that's only the case for styles 20, 2-20, 30, and 2-30. #Styles 15 and 2-15 were teardrop-shaped without the ornamental points: similar to Gibson's A styles, but narrower and more pear-like in outline.

Salmon Man
Nov-25-2006, 1:08pm
Thanks for all the info. I didn't realize the body was that different than a Gibson A-style. My 2-15 is definitely arch top and back. I am curious as to why it wouldn't chop? (I wouldn't know a good chop if it hit me in the head).
Thanks

MandoSquirrel
Nov-25-2006, 2:37pm
The Martins, even the Arched models, were made for the more open, "classical" sound, so they're going to have little natural chop, but should be GREAT for Old-Time, Celtic, acoustic Jazz ("standards" like "Stardust" & such should be awesome), & 'most anything But Bluegrass.

Eugene
Nov-25-2006, 2:48pm
Technically, Loar-era F-5 mandolins were built before bluegrass existed with the intent that they play classical/parlour music too. The f-holed Martins just happen to be pretty trebly.

Eugene
Nov-25-2006, 3:03pm
PS: I'm not quite satisfied with the sound (or my playing), and I'm a little reluctant to post this here, but if you have the capacity to download ca. 3 MB, you can hear my 1908 Martin here (Karl Wohlwend accompanying on guitar): Raffaele Calace, Tarantella, op. 18 (http://www.columbusclassicalguitar.com/Tarantella.mp3) (clicking will start the download). #I'm hoping we can find the time to re-record this and some other demo/sample stuff soon.

Salmon Man
Nov-25-2006, 3:37pm
Sounds great!