View Full Version : Norma mandolin - 60's

May-07-2008, 12:04pm
I have a Norma a-model from the 60's I'm about to sell. It has a pickup installed and it has volume and tone knobs mounted on it. Looks like it had some fret work done to it... its in good shape and I actually have the original box and the original vinyl bag for it.

Funny too is that the box has the price on it ($40 with tax) and the date 1967... "Strums and Drums Inc." is who sold it.

Anyway I'm just trying to learn more about this instrument. I beleive Norma was a Japanese manufactured line of guitars and mandolins from the 60's. Any additional info on this would be much appreciated.

If anybody is interested I will be listing this on Ebay and I'll also provide a link to it on the classifieds site... once I figure out more about it.

May-07-2008, 12:34pm
Before you put it in the classifieds and on eBay take a minute to look through the posting guidelines.

May-07-2008, 2:11pm
Here's a paragraph on Norma instruments from the vintaxe.com website: (http://www.vintaxe.com/faq.htm)

Can you tell me about the history of Norma guitars?
Normas were built in Japan between 1965 to 1970 by the Tombo Company and distributed in the U.S. by StrumīN Drum, Inc. of Chicago, Illinois. The company specialized in copying Italian guitars like EKO and Goya and sold them in the U.S.A as NORMA's. The most blatant EKO copy is the SDEG 490-4, a guitar that confused the heck out of me when I was shopping for an EKO. It is covered in a blue-green plastic sparkle laminate that I was pretty sure EKO had never used but guys will market the guitars as EKOs ($800 vs. $400 value). The Tombo Company is still in business, but these days they specialize in harmonica production.

There are also references to Normas being made in West Germany and Romania, so it could well be one of those distributor's nameplates that was affixed to a variety of imported instruments. #In any case, low-end material (although there was a Norma Barney Kessel [sp?] jazz guitar that may have been a cut above).

Bruce Clausen
May-07-2008, 7:38pm
The Chicago owner was Norman Sackheim. I met him once or twice when I worked in a store that imported tons of their instruments. He was a nice man, but it was pretty crummy gear.


May-08-2008, 2:22pm
Thanks much, the box that is mandolin is in says Strum and Drum so thats validation on the information.

Sounds like I have a cheap Japanese mando on my hands. I guess it might possibly be a step above a Korean or Chinese made one... maybe not though.

Thanks for the info again and I'll heed the posting guidelines on the classifieds.

Bruce Clausen
May-08-2008, 6:12pm
Sorry, Cliftyman, I didn't mean to sound so negative. But the fact is, aside from a few classical guitar builders who were doing really excellent work in the 60s, most of the Japanese instruments made then were below the level of almost everything on the market now. The change came in the seventies, as I recall. But it'll be interesting to see if there's any Norma nostalgia out there. Allen, I do remember seeing a Japanese Barney Kessel copy (a Norma, I guess) in about 1970 that was priced to retail in Canada at $129. Not a good guitar I'm afraid. But a few years later we were getting good Les Paul copies and so on, and then Ibanez made some quite decent jazz guitars.


May-08-2008, 8:09pm
...and then Ibanez made some quite decent jazz guitars. #
Yeah, my brother Andy had the Ibanez George Benson model -- a really nice axe. Only problem was, he traded a Gibson Johnny Smith for the Ibanez and a bit of cash, one of the worst trades I'd ever seen. The Smith's worth multi times what the Benson's worth... Oh well, he was nineteen or so...

Jul-13-2009, 10:21pm
Forgive me for resurrecting an old thread, but I bought a Norma guitar from Japan (early 60's). It's a full sized neck, w/ an auditorium sized body. Solid spruce top and a truss rod. The top is a bit wavy, the screwed on pick-guard is a bit loose etc, etc, etc.

But it is one of the most amazing sounding instruments that I own! Absolutely golden. Did some searches on the web and quite a few folks offered similar raves. Can't speak to the mandolins, but every once in awhile the company got a guitar (plain though it is) right.

Incidently, the last three guitars I've purchased (within the past 2 months) all had female names: Laura Lee, Mildred, and Norma.