View Full Version : Kingston Bowl Back

Hohner Mando Abe
Aug-11-2009, 10:45pm
I hope someone out there can help me. I have just purchased a Kingston vintage bowl back mandolin on E-bay. I have searched the net for the name of the manufacturer & some history, & have found virtually nothing. One site suggested that Ludwig held the rights for a time. I'll hopfully have a serial # when it arrives.
What type of strings would be safe, & compatable with this instrument?
Thank you any help you good folk may provide.

Jim Garber
Aug-11-2009, 10:55pm
Got a picture? I found that there are many modern Japanese bowlbacks that were made by Suzuki under different names. Conqueror is one name that comes to mind. Kingston is another possibility. i could prob tell better if i saw a pic.

Hohner Mando Abe
Aug-11-2009, 11:07pm
Thanks for your quick reply. I just bought it today, so it will be several weeks before I get a chance to take some pics. There seem to be a lot of bowl backs on E bay right now, but some are very badly cracked & not worth the cost of repair. I hope mine is OK but pictures can lie. I just missed a Susuki that looked mint. but it was more money too. I'll post when I have the pictures. Thanks.

Aug-11-2009, 11:27pm
How vintage is "vintage"? Kingston instruments, made by the Terada Co. in Japan, started coming into the US in 1959 or so. Here's (http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_is_a_Cortez_guitar) an interesting article on Jack Westheimer, who started importing Pearl drums and Kingston guitars before 1960. It references an Imperial catalog from Chicago, dated 1964, that shows a Kingston mandolin, in this case a flat-back "A" model.

"Kingston" could have been a nameplate for an American manufacturer as well, but if Japanese-made Kingston mandolins were being imported 40+ years ago, your purchase could well be one of those.

Hohner Mando Abe
Aug-12-2009, 12:04am
Thank you for the link on the Westheimer/Kingston connection. Hopfully there will be some identifyable marking on the mando when it comes. Till then, Thanks a bunch.

Bill Snyder
Aug-16-2009, 12:52pm
Is t h i s (http://cgi.ebay.com/KINGSTON-MANDOLIN-BEAUTIFUL-WOOD-INLAY_W0QQitemZ380146116892QQcmdZViewItemQQptZLH_D efaultDomain_0?hash=item588279691c&_trksid=p3286.c0.m14#ht_500wt_973) your mandolin? Looks like a Suzuki to me. Even has a made in Japan sticker on the back of the headstock.

Hohner Mando Abe
Aug-26-2009, 12:29am
Hi Buddy : Thanks for the reply. Yes that is exactly the one that I bought. I just picked it up froom the broker today. Its in fine shape, but needed a good cleaning. Also the arm rest was in need of a bit of glue in the outside corners.
I'm wondering what guage of strings to get for it. I think the lightest I've seen at the local music shop are .10 -.34
I can find no identifying marks anywhere other than the Kingston decal on the headstock. All in all it appears to be a cheeper copy of a susuki. Oh well, I'll see what it sounds like with new strings & go from there. Cheers.

Hohner Mando Abe
Aug-26-2009, 12:33am
Hi Bill. I'm sorry; I called You buddy --- A seniors lapse. LOL

Bill Snyder
Aug-26-2009, 8:20am
Not a problem. I just thought you were being friendly and I have been called worse. :)
Oh and for posterity's sake here is your mandolin.

Hohner Mando Abe
Aug-27-2009, 12:34am
Thanks Bill ; I've done the minor repairs (glueing the arm rest, cleaning all the hardware) & plan to pick up a set of strings for it tomorrow. This mando feels pretty fragile, so I'll get the lightest I can find. This will likely be more of a conversation piece that an actual performance mando. Live & learn!!:(

Richard Sanabia
Aug-29-2009, 6:44am
I got a set of Jazzmando J11 strings and a great free pick from a seller on this list. The G is a 33, and the tone was improved. Before it had a sort of muffled sound. I usually use extra lights, with a 28 G string on my bowlbacks, but my latest is a Japanese one that appears to be well braced for the slightly heavier strings. The J11s are nice.

Hohner Mando Abe
Sep-01-2009, 10:19pm
Hi Richard & friends: I installed the 10 - 34 strings on the kingston Mando & it sounds pretty good. Thanks for the tip about the J 11's. I'll try to find them on line & order them.
NEXT QUESTION: We have in our family a DANA bowlback which we purchased for my father shortly before he passed away in the mid 60's. I can find no information about the country of origin, or who the maker might be other than net references to a guitar maker by the name of Dana Bourgeois. There is no indication he ever made mandolins. Has anyone got better info than I've been able to find?? It looks very similar to the Kingston that I bought recently, with a simlar type of arm rest. We hope to get it in playing condition so my brother can join me in the addicting musical pursuit. Thanks again

Sep-02-2009, 12:27am
"Dana" appears to be a line of Asian (Japanese/Korean) imports from the '60's-'70's. There's a 1973 Dana Guitars catalog on line at Vintaxe here. (http://www.vintaxe.com/catalogs_japanese_dana.htm) Also a few forum inquiries mentioning Dana, some attributing vintages back to the '50's. Not a major label, I guess, since it's left few tracks behind, but wouldn't be too surprising if your Dana was in fact made at the same Asian factory as your Kingston. Some of the Asian factories were huge -- Samick's plant in Korea was advertised as the "world's largest musical instrument manufacturer" -- and they turned out instruments with a variety of labels for US distributors.

Hohner Mando Abe
Sep-02-2009, 10:24pm
Thank you Allanhopkins: Yes indeed I do believe there are a number of similaities in the Dana & Kingston Mando 's. Next time I'm at my brother's place I'll take a good look to compare & to check for any significant markings.
Anyone know where I can find a tailpiece & bridge for a Johnson MA 998 TP resonator mandolin. Elderly is backordered & may not have one till Christmas. Thank -- ABE