View Full Version : Anyone recognize this?

Nov-25-2007, 1:45pm
A nice woman give me this mandolin at a session last night. It has no marking or labels on it anywhere. She told me that it was given to her 40 years ago, and it sat on her piano since then. If there's anything that you want a closer look at I'll be happy to post more pictures.

Nov-25-2007, 1:50pm
here's the back

Martin Jonas
Nov-25-2007, 2:00pm
That's a bowlback, probably American, probably pre-1920, fairly middle-of-the-road -- not a distinguished line, but not rock-bottom cheapo at the time either. Some of the people here know far more about US bowlbacks than me, so I'll leave any further identification to them.

May well play quite nice if set up properly. Most importantly, you must only use ultralight strings. Using bluegrass gauges is a sure way of destroying these delicate bowlbacks.


Nov-25-2007, 7:05pm
The neck seems to be little bit bent: up around the 12th fret the strings are almost a quarter of an inch off of the fretboard. IS there anything I can do about that?

Martin Jonas
Nov-26-2007, 8:22am
A quarter of an inch is fairly hefty. #Clearly, a previous owners didn't heed the advice I gave in my last message. #Unless you are very hand with woodwork and can do it yourself, any repairs you can do will be vastly more expensive than the modest financial value of this mandolin, so I'd have to say that repairing will be almost certainly be uneconomical.

If you want to try it yourself, have a look here (http://www.mandolincafe.net/cgi-bin/ikonboard.cgi?act=ST;f=15;t=47061) for a similar repair I did recently, using a shim to raise part of the fretboard to compensate for the curvature. #This was rather less of a bow than on yours, though. An alternative method is to pull the frets, plane the fretboard flat, and refret.

In addition, you can lower the bridge to get to a more playable action. #To reduce the action at the 12th fret by, say, 3mm you will need to lower the bridge by 6mm. #As bowlback bridges are typically only about 1cm high, this will not leave an awful lot of bridge left. #Also, this will not get rid of the bow in the neck, which is likely to lead to buzzing on the higher frets if you lower the bridge.


Jim Garber
Nov-26-2007, 8:39am
That one doesn't ring any bell's for me tho the pickguard is very unusual for an American-made bowlback. I will continue to look.