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View Full Version : My Grandfathers Mandolin.....Handed Down



Lawn Jockey
Jan-03-2009, 2:35pm
When my grandfather passed away in late June of 1986 he left me his mandolin. I was the only one of his grandchildren that played any instruments, and before he passed he told me he'd like me to have it. RIP Grandpa.

During our talk he told me that he had gotten it (he believed) around 1906, but most certainly before 1910. He and his brother (fiddle) played around Arkansas for years. He recounted that he remembers paying $12.00 for the mandolin.....and it was used when he got it. He also said he believed that the mandolin was built in the late 1800's.....because it was about 10 years old or so when he got it. It is a Lyon & Healy (American Conservatory).

We didn't talk about construction of....or hardware on the mandolin at that time. It's your standard "tater bug"....or bowl back mandolin. It has a mahogany neck....Brazilian rosewood ribs.....and a Brazilian rosewood headstock overlay. The tuners I have no idea about.....but to this very day hold their tune very well. It has a slip cover tailpiece.

Here (http://s155.photobucket.com/albums/s314/weleetkaoutlaws/Lyon%20and%20Healy%20American%20Conservatory%20Man dolin/) is a link to the album of pictures of it........and I'll post one here so that those that don't want to follow the link can at least see it.

I took it out this morning......completely cleaned it up (again).....and restrung it. It still amazes me with its tone. It sounds like a carnival. It play exceptionally well too. The only work that I've had done to it since I got it 22 years ago was to have a few frets replaced.....the others crowned and polished.....and the nut was replaced with an aged bone nut (the original was broken). It could use a new bridge assembly and I may do that at some point......but I'm content with it hanging in my music room (properly humidified) as a tribute to my grandpa.

http://i155.photobucket.com/albums/s314/weleetkaoutlaws/Lyon%20and%20Healy%20American%20Conservatory%20Man dolin/LH6.jpg

I know it's not a collectors piece..or the holy grail..but it is cool to have a piece of your family history.

Thanks for reading.

JEStanek
Jan-03-2009, 2:54pm
Lawn Jockey,

That is a very cool story and I think you've helped me identify my bowlback (http://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/showpost.php?p=608540&postcount=24). They look almost identical (peghead shape, tuners, body and rosette binding, bowl construction). I have a set of TI lights on mine and really like the sound. It's fun to play too.

I'm glad to know what my unkown bowlback likely is. American Conservatory by Lyon and Healy. I'll update my blog!

Where was yours labeled?

Lawn Jockey
Jan-03-2009, 2:58pm
Where was yours labeled?


Mine still has the oval paper sticker (faded, but legible) visible through the soundhole.

I believe Lyon & Healy made different "grades" of mandolins, American Conservatory being one of the lower end offerings. It is still a great instrument and has held up surprisingly well.

JEStanek
Jan-03-2009, 3:05pm
Thanks! My label is gone. Like I mentioned in the linked thread, I got this on a trade for a project Strad-o-lin I was never going to do anything with. Win-Win trade. I really enjoy playing on it.

Jamie

Mike Bunting
Jan-03-2009, 3:07pm
Beautiful story! What a great family connection.

Bernie Daniel
Jan-03-2009, 4:40pm
It is wonderful that you carry on his mandolin playing tradition into a third generation but even better that you also have his mandolin.

I am certain that you have heard IIIrd Timeout's song "Grandpa's Mandolin"? If not that is your song.

I'm just wondering -- did you ever hear you grandfather play and also did you father or mother (whichever side of the family) also play?

Good story.

Miked
Jan-03-2009, 5:51pm
Nice story! Having a mandolin as a family heirloom is a very cool thing. The fact that it was your Grandpa's instrument makes it priceless!
:mandosmiley:

Lawn Jockey
Jan-03-2009, 6:10pm
I'm just wondering -- did you ever hear you grandfather play and also did you father or mother (whichever side of the family) also play?

Yes, many times. I remember as a kid listening to him and his brother play when we would visit during the summer (we lived on the east coast then). He was no Bill Monroe....but he was a solid mandolin player. His brother, Frank was an awesome fiddle player. They sure sounded good then.......and even better as I got older. This was my dad's dad.

After about 1977 he didn't play much any more when we'd visit. At that time I had been playing guitar for about two or three years and was really interested in mandolin....but he just couldn't do it for more than about 10 or 15 minutes at a time.

My mother bought a piano (when I was about 12) so that she could learn on. She never did.....and I devoured it. That was my introduction to any instrument.....and I'm glad I started on piano.

I "started" on mandolin in 1986 (after grandpa's death)......and in earnest about five years later.

I now play piano, guitar, mandolin, ukulele, and 5 string banjo. I had encouragement from my parents and that helped tremendously.

guitharsis
Jan-04-2009, 7:11am
Beautiful instrument, Lawn Jockey. It is priceless. Very nice story. I purchased a Gibson A1 that someone brought into Bernunzio's; it had been her grandfather's. Can't imagine someone selling such a sentimental instrument. I've since sold the Gibson to fund my Old Wave and it was difficult for ME to sell.:)

Lawn Jockey
Jan-07-2009, 9:17am
Jamie, did you end up getting the Eastman case for yours?

If so, how was the fit? I'm seriously considering pulling the trigger on one as an upgrade to the chipboard case (which was an upgrade from a pillow case).

Tracy Tucker
Jan-07-2009, 9:30am
Scott, what a neat story! I wish I had some kind of family legacy like that... cherish those memories!

JEStanek
Jan-07-2009, 9:50am
Jamie, did you end up getting the Eastman case for yours?

If so, how was the fit? I'm seriously considering pulling the trigger on one as an upgrade to the chipboard case (which was an upgrade from a pillow case).

Scott,
Since mine lives mostly in a bookcase in my bedroom (or my lap) and doesn't go out, I can't really justify the $125+ on the sweet Eastman case. Soooo, I dunno about the fit. All I have is 1/2 of the canvas carboard clownshoe it came in.
http://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=37078&d=1229884033
And it's better used as a hat.
http://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/picture.php?albumid=32&pictureid=1495

Jamie

Lawn Jockey
Jan-07-2009, 9:55am
... cherish those memories!

I do....every day. Thanks Tracy!!


Scott,
Since mine lives mostly in a bookcase in my bedroom (or my lap) and doesn't go out, I can't really justify the $125+ on the sweet Eastman case. Soooo, I dunno about the fit. All I have is 1/2 of the canvas carboard clownshoe it came in.
http://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=37078&d=1229884033
And it's better used as a hat.
http://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/picture.php?albumid=32&pictureid=1495

Jamie

Well, the pioneers get the arrows......so I'll order one and see if it fits.

Clownshoe........:))

Jake Wildwood
Jan-07-2009, 12:30pm
Nice bowlback! I'm playing an older c.1880s L&H bowl as my main mandolin these days.

Jamie: Yep, definitely a L&H alright, the headstock shape is awfully typical for their lower and midrange bowlbacks from the era (I've worked on 5 or 6, label and no label).

I'm wondering if anyone knows when L&H dropped their maple-strip style of rib join and went for the more typical paper/canvas backing? That would help set a date for manufacture, as both of yours have the paper-backed bowl construction, which I always thought was c.1900+ as opposed to 1880s/1890s.

Lawn Jockey
Jan-12-2009, 1:02pm
Jamie, I went ahead and ordered one of the Eastman Bowl Back cases......if you'd like my (like new) chipboard case.....it's yours.....for FREE.

Just PM me....and I'll send it out to you.

Lawn Jockey
Jan-23-2009, 10:24am
Thanks! My label is gone. Like I mentioned in the linked thread, I got this on a trade for a project Strad-o-lin I was never going to do anything with. Win-Win trade. I really enjoy playing on it.

Jamie

Jamie, here is a pic of the label from my L&H American Conservatory (in case you've never seen one).

http://i155.photobucket.com/albums/s314/weleetkaoutlaws/Lyon%20and%20Healy%20American%20Conservatory%20Man dolin/LHLabel.jpg