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View Full Version : CARMELO CATANIA MANDOLIN, what you tihink



mandolinlady
Feb-01-2009, 8:08pm
I have owned this mandolin since 1985, everybody flatters it, so far I haven't seen any other like this, it is a Carmelo Catania, it is a very melodious,Even when I started playing this instruments more than 20 years ago , there were long periods of time that abandoned my mandolin, now I regret all the time I lost not playing it. I was told that it has mahony, and the finished is impressing, and it sound great to me, but I am not an expertise in this instrument so I really don't know. Does anybody know about Carmelo Catania mandolins made in Italy,

Jim Garber
Feb-01-2009, 11:06pm
Carmelo Catania was an instrument manufacturer in Catania, Sicily. Tho not a mandolin site, Fetish Guitars (http://www.fetishguitars.com/html/sicilia/index.html) has much information about the company and some pictures of guitars and catalogs.

brunello97
Feb-02-2009, 9:52am
While perhaps unrelated, there is also the Fatty Carmelo Consortium currently touting a new disc by my longtime Austin vatos:

http://www.thegourds.com/

With a bit of a wink this can somehow all be woven together into coherence.

Mick

mandolinlady
Feb-02-2009, 2:24pm
Thanks for the information.

mandolinlady
Feb-02-2009, 2:25pm
O. thanks for the information

mandolooter
Feb-02-2009, 4:12pm
While perhaps unrelated, there is also the Fatty Carmelo Consortium currently touting a new disc by my longtime Austin vatos:


Humm...not sure of the connection but I have front row seats for Fridays show at the Egyptian Theater here in Boise. The new CD has some gems too...:popcorn:

Nice looking mandolin Mandolin Lady!!:mandosmiley:

mandolinlady
Feb-02-2009, 9:28pm
Thanks, I don't think Fatty Carmelo is related to Carmelo Catania, this mandolin maker is way back somewhere in Italy.

Selenaserval
May-28-2009, 11:11am
I love them... the ones I've seen played well and looked great.

mandopops
May-28-2009, 1:36pm
I've got a Catania also. It's got the violin scroll head. I got it about 1979 when I was taking lessons w/ Giovanni Vicari in NYC. He had a couple. He was from the town in Sicily. A couple of his students and myself expressed interest so I think four or five of us ordered them. We had the option of flat or round backed. I think everyone went flat. Tho Mr. V had a round-back.
They were all great. I love mine. It has a steely,shimmering sound, plays great & very elegant. I'll try later to get a picture up. I have to run my computer over for check-up now.

brunello97
May-28-2009, 9:38pm
Mandopops, I think a lot of us here would love to hear more anecdotes from your experience studying with Sig. Vicari. That must have been an amazing experience. Here is a purported picture of the maestro ca. 1920.

Mick

mandopops
May-29-2009, 10:39pm
Brunello97, That really looks like a young Giovanni. I think I've seen that pic before. I have an autographed 8x10 glossy picture of him. I'll try in the next day or two to get a pic of my Catania & Mr. Vicari up.
I would be glad to put a few thoughts together. Mr. Garber asked also. It was amazing. He was also very warm and generous. Except he wouldn't give me his DeAngelico mandolin. Altho I tried. Where would be a good place to post?
Thanx for the interest.

mandopops
May-31-2009, 3:42pm
Here is my Catania.

Ain't it a beauty?

mandopops
May-31-2009, 3:43pm
Here is my autographed photograph of Mr. Vicari.

He is playing his Martin Mandolin in the picture.

Fran
Jul-07-2009, 8:48am
Hi guys, I am a newbie here.

I just found a nice Modelo 2 Carmelo Catania in very good shape, and only paid a few hundred dollars for it. I got it in a private sale.

A local shop has an identical mando for sale at $1000... So, keep your bowl-shaped Carmelos, they seem to have gained in market value!

pollycat
Sep-12-2009, 7:03pm
Fran!

That's my baby. I have one just like it made in 1961. I was looking to sell it but didn't know the value. Incredible!
Polly

zackfrio
Dec-13-2010, 11:44pm
I have a Catania which is very similar to the one in th picture, with the same design. I absolutely love the sound of it as well as the look. I got it for an excellent price, and was pleased when I found out that his mandolins can fetch about 1000$. On the original sticker inside my mandolin, it says that his company was founded in 1936, in Mascalucia. This is a comune in Catania, Sicily. I confirmed this with my own research. He is quite a famous italian mandolin maker, and I suggest you hold on to that instrument and keep playing it, because mandolins of this quality are hard to come by!

jtropes
Feb-28-2011, 1:48pm
I too studied with John Vicari years ago (starting 1958) at the age of 12 to 17. And have a Carmelo mandolin Dated 1955 (flat back/not sure if that's what you call it). He was and to this day my major influence and inspiration. John Tropea

brunello97
Feb-28-2011, 9:03pm
Welcome, John! We all would love to hear more about your experiences with Sig. Vicari. What were lessons like (if you can remember so long ago)? Any type of anecdotes would be more than welcome here. As well as pictures of your Carmelo C if you have them. I have a mandola from Catania that I enjoy playing, from Puglisi Reale. They make nice mandolins down there in Sicily.

Mick

jtropes
Mar-03-2011, 11:01am
Hi Mick,
He was a special man who loved his students. At 18 years old I went off to Berklee School of Music. The day I said good bye to him he held me in his arms and cried. I took 3 lessons a week from him from 12 yrs to 18 yrs. 1 on plectrum guitar, 1 on mandolin and 1 on classical guitar. Most of the time he hand wrote the music for the lesson. I always started each lesson with solfeggio from the Pasquali Bona sight reading book (Probably spelled the title wrong). In addition, he always made espresso coffee for both of us. I will rack my brain to remember some other points of my lessons and get back to you. I owe much of my success and musicality to Mr Vicari. If we were in England, I would lobby for him to be knighted so he would be named Sir John Vicari! I haven't played the mandolin for yrs as I am a Funk Jazz guitarist. I will take some pxs of the mandolin and post them after I do some minor work on it. All the best, John Tropea

Bruce Clausen
Mar-03-2011, 12:13pm
Wow, John, what a way to start out! Just went to your site and realized we've all heard you many times over many years. A great start to a great career. Thanks for checking in here with your memories of Vicari.

Jim Garber
Mar-03-2011, 12:22pm
There were a few members of the NY mandolin orchestra who studied with maestro Vicari. So, did he prefer to be called John? I know his listed himself on Italian records as Giovanni and on Spanish ones as Juan.

brunello97
Mar-03-2011, 12:22pm
Thanks, John, for those stories. I certainly am familiar with your own work, which is extraordinary, and it is a pleasure to have you here at the MC. (It is kind of like a cafe where one is always meeting interesting people.....) I would love to see a picture of your Catania mandolin. Do you remember where you got it? Was it new at the time? Do you remember what type of mandolin Mr. Vicari was playing at the time? Was it the Martin that Mandopops posted a picture of? Sorry for all the questions, but you guys who form a link back a couple of generations are priceless!

Mick

jtropes
Mar-17-2011, 12:20pm
Thanks for your comments. I love Giovanni dearly. Wish he was still with us.
Tropes

jtropes
Mar-17-2011, 12:22pm
I alway called him Giovanni. And he too, called me the same.

frampo56
Apr-17-2011, 2:11pm
Hi I've just bought a Carmelo Catania mandolin today and I think I got a bargain- £92! Whether it is or not is immaterial really as I love it and am now a bowlback convert and the Ozark will have to go. I love the authentic Italian/Sicilian look and the sound is so sweet. It's most definitely a keeper. Just need a hard case for it now! Here's a pic I took already.

Thanks Everybody, reading this post before buying certainly helped me a lot7102171021

Jim Garber
Apr-17-2011, 8:32pm
I am assuming that this is a shot off your web cam and that this is actually a right-handed instrument, correct? Welcome aboard to the Loyal Order of the Bowl.

frampo56
Apr-22-2011, 3:11am
I am assuming that this is a shot off your web cam and that this is actually a right-handed instrument, correct? Welcome aboard to the Loyal Order of the Bowl.

Hi Jim, thanks for your comment. Yes it is a right handed mandolin; I didn't realise that it would come out that way (obvious really). So I'm now in the Loyal Order of the Bowl? - great! I got the mandolin off Ebay here in England and from my research on here and other sites, I expected it to fetch a higher price, so was very pleased. One small niggle though, and wonder if anyone can help? I changed the strings to Ultra Light GHS as recommended for older,Bowlback mandos, and now when i fret the G string at the 7th fret it is way too sharp. The 12th fret is ok and so are the other strings, also the open strings are all fine. Is this the nut, perhaps? I've tried moving the bridge but that sends everything out! Any ideas anyone? Thanks again, I still love the thing anyhow!

Robert
England

frampo56
Apr-26-2011, 1:26pm
Hi all, has anyone any tips on how to correct this intonation/nut problem, it's bugging me now. Any suggestions pleeeez??
Thanking you in anticipation


Robert.
Still in England

mrmando
Apr-26-2011, 1:45pm
It could be the nut, or it could be that one of the frets is too tall or too short.

I saw a Carmelo Catania bowlback in an estate sale not long ago, but it was tourist grade ... appeared to be pretty cheaply made, and had a neck problem. So I passed it up. I hope I didn't throw away $1,000.

J.C.
Jul-19-2011, 12:36pm
I have a Catania which is very similar to the one in th picture, with the same design. I absolutely love the sound of it as well as the look. I got it for an excellent price, and was pleased when I found out that his mandolins can fetch about 1000$. On the original sticker inside my mandolin, it says that his company was founded in 1936, in Mascalucia. This is a comune in Catania, Sicily. I confirmed this with my own research. He is quite a famous italian mandolin maker, and I suggest you hold on to that instrument and keep playing it, because mandolins of this quality are hard to come by!

I don't think the company was founded in 1936, because the sticker on the inside of mine is dated 1921.

Bruce Clausen
Jul-19-2011, 3:17pm
Yeah, but does your 1921 label say "founded in 1936" anywhere? ;)

Jim Garber
Jul-19-2011, 3:28pm
I checked and the link I posted earlier in this thread about the history of the company does not work any more. Here is the updated Fetish Guitars (http://www.fetishguitars.com/html/italiane/sicilia/catania_profilo.html) link.

Here is the rather lame translation via Google Translate. Maybe someone else can do better:


At 20 he returned to Catania and begins to work on their own, although at the beginning for others, and builds a second and more elaborate harp guitar which image will use as a trademark of his company.

In 1936 he recorded his company to the Chamber of Commerce of Catania and get to see with their own name.

If he was born in 1908, then he returned to Catania in 1928. If he built that mandolin in 1921, then he was only 13 years old. Hmmmmm...

Bruce Clausen
Jul-19-2011, 3:55pm
Welcome to the Cafe, J.C. I wonder if your 1921 mandolin was built in Catania the town, but not by Carmelo Catania the manufacturer. Can you post photos?

Jim Garber
Jul-19-2011, 4:06pm
Ah, Bruce, that would explain a lot!!

J.C.
Jul-19-2011, 8:37pm
Here is a picture of the label: http://i34.photobucket.com/albums/d133/JeremiahClayton/date.jpg

I could be mistaken, but it looks like 8 4(11?) 1921

Bruce Clausen
Jul-20-2011, 12:47pm
Mighty hard to make out the date from that photo. But the label itself doesn't look like an old one. And I see in this other thread a similar label with a similar serial no. pretty clearly dated 1971. So it's probably a matter of handwriting style.

http://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/showthread.php?32529-Catania-carmelo&highlight=carmelo

J.C.
Jul-20-2011, 4:23pm
I'll try to upload a better picture. If it's indeed 1971, it's the worst writing of a 7 in the world. :)

Antonio S
Feb-10-2013, 4:39pm
I have a Catania which is very similar to the one in th picture, with the same design. I absolutely love the sound of it as well as the look. I got it for an excellent price, and was pleased when I found out that his mandolins can fetch about 1000$. On the original sticker inside my mandolin, it says that his company was founded in 1936, in Mascalucia. This is a comune in Catania, Sicily. I confirmed this with my own research. He is quite a famous italian mandolin maker, and I suggest you hold on to that instrument and keep playing it, because mandolins of this quality are hard to come by!

My parents are from a town near Catania. Back around 1980 I brought back a Carmelo Catania mandoloncello. I had a luthier put Grover machines on it and helped me tune it to an octave mandolin, using very light strings. It was a blast, especially for playing Medieval and Renaissance tunes. I just dusted it off several months ago, after many years of neglect. Perhaps because it didnít have to sustain the full tension of a mandoloncello, it was in very good condition, and the intonation is still near perfect. I put on a set mandolin strings (Martin, if I recall), which were long enough, and at that length, they tuned comfortably into mandola tuning (C, G, D, A). Because of the looseness of the strings, I can even fingerpick it like a lute. (If Iím not mistaken, itís believed that early lute technique used more pad than nail. If Iím wrong, donít let me know, so I can go on believing Iím playing it like a medieval lute.) In any case, it has a big sound with lots of resonance and is loads of fun.

mrmando
Feb-10-2013, 4:44pm
Whatever works. Personally, I'd be more interested in it as a mandocello.

brunello97
Feb-10-2013, 6:27pm
My parents are from a town near Catania. Back around 1980 I brought back a Carmelo Catania mandoloncello. .....In any case, it has a big sound with lots of resonance and is loads of fun.

Welcome, Antonio. What is the name of the town your folks are from? Some of us here are very interested in Catanese mandolins.

Do you have some photos of your mandocello/dola that you could post? I'd love to see it.

Mick

Antonio S
Feb-12-2013, 9:46pm
Welcome, Antonio. What is the name of the town your folks are from? Some of us here are very interested in Catanese mandolins.

Do you have some photos of your mandocello/dola that you could post? I'd love to see it.

Mick

My parents are from Belpasso, on the volcano Etna. Since Iím technologically challenged, it might take me a little while to get a picture on here. This conversation has renewed my interest in my Carmelo Catanias, and I dug up the CC mandolin that I own as well. Iíll work on getting a picture of the Mandoloncello up.

Antonio S
Feb-15-2013, 9:19pm
Here are some pics of my Carmelo Catania mandoloncello, with Grover guitar tuners.

brunello97
Feb-16-2013, 8:09pm
Thanks, Antonio, for the pictures. That is a nice looking m'cello. I can't imagine how one would hold something like this. Must sound great as an octave. Did you get it from a shop or from a private owner?

BTW, we're watching Visconti's "La Terra Trema" this evening which was filmed (as I'm sure you know) in Aci Trezza, not too far from Belpasso (or Catania). We're only a half-hour into the film so far, but it is pretty great. Some nice songs in it I'd love to learn....

Mick

BTW I have a mandola (or maybe it is a short octave) from Puglisi Reale. Curiously enough, it has a carved back in the Gibson style with a typical canted top. It was a wreck when I got it and I'm still working to iron out all the fret issues. It does sound good though.

Antonio S
Feb-17-2013, 9:09pm
Thanks. I told you I am tech-challenged, and I figured out how to get the photos right-side-up after the fact! The thing is big enough to hold pretty much like an acoustic guitar, sitting with legs crossed. I bought this instrument directly from the Carmelo Catania shop. I’m sure it all started way back with a Geppetto-like craftsman named Carmelo. But when I went there around 1980, it was a fairly large operation. I remember that they were proud of the fact that some of their bouzoukis were bought by Greeks.

La Terra Trema is a classic film of neorealism. Visconti had the non-professional actors (real fishermen) speak Sicilian dialect, and so it was released in Italy with Italian subtitles. I believe it was Aci Trezza — where the novel that inspired the film, I Malavoglia (House by the Medlar Tree) by Giovanni Verga is located.

The mandola used to have two possible tuning: C and G, the latter being like an octave mandolin. (I don’t think many American players are aware of this.)

brunello97
Feb-17-2013, 9:34pm
Yes, Antonio, the pictures are good. An interesting story that you bought the mandocello straight from the CC shop. Is the company still in business? Do you remember where they were located?

Actually, there has been a lot of discussion around here of the C vs G tunings and the different uses of the term 'mandola' between the US and Europe. I know there are advocates for all the various naming conventions but C (mandola) and G (octave) make the most sense to me now, despite the presumed histories of the names themselves.

We thought the movie was pretty good, particularly the cinematography. My wife and I speak Italian pretty well (she better than I) but couldn't follow much other than the voice-over. Good thing for subtitles. I read that Visconti had a trio of 'work' related films in mind and that La Terra Trema was the only one that was filmed. I've got I Malavoglia on my summer reading list.

Mick

Antonio S
Feb-18-2013, 8:26pm
Location of C. Catania shop: It was a long time ago, and I was driven there a few times from Belpasso. The tag says Mascalucia, so it must have been there (probably can Google it). I remember that my former Science professor liked the mandoloncello so much that he ordered one from them and they shipped it to him. But I'm not sure if the shop still exists.

As you know, I'm new to Mandolin Cafe, so I missed out on the C&G mandola discussion.

Brendan Manson
Apr-28-2019, 9:06am
On researching, in the age of mass communication, I was excited to discover this discussion concerning Carmelo Catania instruments and would like to show my mandola off. An American girl, upon hearing me fooling around on a guitar in the 1970s, suggested that I try the mandolin. I did but thought that the lower octave mandola would be more suited to my stumpy fingers. On a trip to Rome mid-seventies this beauty gave me no option but to purchase it. A case maker in Bologna was recommended and I stopped there on the way home to order one. For years I attempted to play but when it decided that I was not, my hero at that time, Andy Irvine or even a competent musician, it took to the case in a huff. There it has remained languishing for decades. Every once in a while Iíd inspect it, admire and wonder what would become of it especially now that I am old! I have tried unsuccessfully to give it away, considered selling it or donating it to a mandolin orchestra but it still refuses to go!176331176329176330176332176333176334

Jim Garber
Apr-28-2019, 10:44pm
Very interesting, that mandola is in excellent shape which makes a lot of sense according to your story. It is also interesting that it was made with that Dave Apollon-style missing high fret. He used to pull the high fret on his mandolins so he could cleanly play that note way up on the fretboard.

wlosinger
May-14-2019, 9:18pm
I got one recently

https://www.shopgoodwill.com/Item/66055255

wlosinger
May-14-2019, 9:31pm
Here I am playing something on it.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eCzHGL-SP14