View Full Version : SS Stewart Mandolin possibly a Stradolin?

David Newton
May-27-2010, 4:47pm
I posted this in the SOL group, but it's so quiet lately...
All this is just an on-going interest in the SOL mystery.


Lots of similarities to Bruce Clauson's Strad on display:


Bruce Clausen
May-27-2010, 5:02pm
Fascinating, David. But if it's really like mine, the BIN price should be WAY over $1500.:))

Maybe Mike E. will be along here to help us out with this.


Cary Fagan
May-27-2010, 5:08pm
It has a Stradolin bridge, shape, f-holes, headstock shape. Is that logo style typical of S.S. Stewart?

May-27-2010, 5:48pm
Is that a Koa or Koa-veneer top?

May-27-2010, 8:21pm
It's a better chance that it's a Harmony built instrument, maybe Regal. Probably Chicago built either way. The F holes really aren't the same as Bruce's are and the model Bruce has is probably one of the rarer models. Look at the middle of the F holes on Bruce's then look at the F Holes on the Stewart. I've never seen a Strad (a real Strad, the imports had them) with the points in the F holes. Keep in mind that these guys bought from the same suppliers. It looks to be a 30's, no later than 40's instrument. It wouldn't surprise me if the top is laminated although it might be solid. Note the cross brace inside across the back as well. I'll note that the bridge is different from Bruce's as well as most of the original Strad's I've seen. Honestly, it's a little clunky next to Bruce's Strad. The headstock shape is the same general shape but lacks a certain grace.

Here's a branded Harmony. The f holes look more like these than the Strad.

May-28-2010, 3:44am
Why canīt I see Bruce Clausens mando without joining the SOL-Group?

May-28-2010, 7:42am
That I don't know. If you do a Strad-O-Lin search of the forum there are pictures there as well. He has one of the few Strad-O-Lin professional models I've seen as detailed in the catalog pages Jim Garber posted a few years ago. The only real Strad that places the bridge in the middle of the F holes.

May-28-2010, 7:46am
For posterity here are the images of the SS Stewart model in this auction.

May-28-2010, 7:58am
Bruce's next to the Stewart

David Newton
May-28-2010, 1:22pm

The top looks exactly like the wood on my laminated ribbon grain Mahogany-top Strad.

Has anyone suggested that SOL had a small shop, and jobbed-out a percentage of work to other shops?

Bruce Clausen
May-28-2010, 1:43pm
Thanks for the photo comparison, Mike. David, according to the "Resurrection" video posted today in the General forum, "Stradolin distributed mandolins in the USA around 1930-50. They were made by local artisans and varied widely in quality." I don't know whose idea this is, but it seems very dubious, given the numbers of Strads produced and the length of time (more like 1935-60, I think). But the brand may have been owned by someone who changed factories a few times over the decades.

Olaf, you're a Strad artist yourself, no? You should join the SG!

May-28-2010, 2:12pm

The top looks exactly like the wood on my laminated ribbon grain Mahogany-top Strad.

Has anyone suggested that SOL had a small shop, and jobbed-out a percentage of work to other shops?

Strad-O-Lin farmed out all the manufacturing and there could have been different manufacturers.

In the Strad-O-Lin social group you can find links to discussions about who could have possibly built them, I have my own theories. I seriously doubt they ever owned their own shop.

As for the top material, all of the mandolin builders in the country (Martin and Gibson included) bought the same tuners and the same tailpieces. Many bought the same premade fingerboards. The Chicago builders traded instruments among themselves. Chances are there were job shops that pressed tops and backs as well as made necks. Anything is possible but that SS Stewart is not the same as that Strad, in body shape or headstock or F hole design if you look at it closely. They are similar but the Stewart has that clunky Harmony look that is much more similar to the Harmony I posted.

May-28-2010, 10:49pm
I've just proved my own theory wrong. Here's a branded Strad-O-Lin with points on the F holes and the F holes are the same as on some of the later Blue Comet/Beltone instruments. These were obvioulsy built by the same company someplace. Up until now I've thought they were totally different animals. This appears to be yet another iteration of the Strad-O-Lins. Geeze, I'm a moron, I just looked at mine it has them too. Getting old is hell. We could probably write a book on the different f holes on these things. Jim Garber (if I recall) illustrated the differences between the dots in the f holes years back. It goes even deeper.