View Full Version : No-name inherited red mahogany mando

Mar-12-2009, 12:27am
... from my Dad's maternal uncles from NYC. He was born in the '20s, but I don't know from what time the mandolin comes. He also had some other instruments from them. I remember fondly him playing all of them at various times in my youth. The "W" scratched into the tailstock cover may indicate that it belonged to Uncle Walter.

Keeps me interested in the mandolin. Very sweet sounding but quiet mandolin. I've seen some similar ones on ebay and would be interested if anyone has any identification info. Thanks.

Mar-12-2009, 7:16am
It looks very Regal-ish to me, made in Chicago. It doesn't look like mahogany to me, but that might be my old eyes.

Jake Wildwood
Mar-12-2009, 7:46am
I agree with Mike: looks like birch to me.

Mar-12-2009, 9:03am
Mike and Jake: Thanks for the comments. All are welcome. I started getting interested in the mandolin again over a decade ago, some years after my father's death. Then I set it aside again for several years, and am now preparing to take it up in earnest. After my mother let me have the mandolin in the late '90s (I'd bought an Epi BG-440 as a holding action), I had Isle of Wight Instruments in Smithfield, VA, set it up. They replaced the bridge and nut and I thought they were the ones who first used the words "red mahogany." Maybe I misremember. Certainly I haven't tried to scrape through the finish to see the underlying color. I think the mandolin sounds sweet, if not piercingly loud, and I'm happy to have some small things from my ancestors which have not yet turned to dust. It all does, eventually.

It's unlikely that I'll try my hand at luthierie. I thought about furniture-making as a hobby for a while. Everyone loves a good chair, and most folks can effectively use one. (Unfortunately, the same isn't true about mandolins....) However, I mostly do automotive stuff as my hobby, keeping the family mobile with our selection of '80s/'90s Alfa Romeos.

Mar-12-2009, 9:15am
Mahogany has a specific grain. It looks like the picture below. Ignore the color, that can be affected by stain. It's the grain. You should be able to see the little dots through the finish and I don't see it on that mandolin.

Mar-14-2009, 10:18pm
Looks like birch to me, too, though the stain (or is it a colored varnish or lacquer?) is, I think, unusual in mandolins for that period. A lot of birch from around then was laminated. Look at the F holes and see if you can see several plies, or if the grain goes all the way through.

Jason Kessler
Mar-15-2009, 1:07pm
Mike, that mahogany "swatch" was both interesting and helpful. Thanks.