Results 1 to 21 of 21

Thread: overhauling an Asian import

  1. #1
    music with whales Jim Nollman's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Friday Harbor WA
    Posts
    1,534

    Default overhauling an Asian import

    I got into a hypothetical discussion yesterday about whether a small shop builder could take a better than average Asian import F5, undo the plate to re-plane the thickness, recut the tone bars, and do whatever else, to turn it into something as good sounding as the mandolins on which they sign their own name. It's made me curious if any builder here has actually done this operation on, for example, something on the level of a Kentucky 1000 or an Eastman 850. The perfect reply would also include a recording of before and after, as well as some idea of how many hours it took to do the job.
    Explore some of my published music here

    óJim

    BRW 3-point #65 (2009)
    Altman 2-point (2007)
    Portuguese fado cittern (1965)

  2. #2
    Troy Shellhamer 9lbShellhamer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Louisville, KY
    Posts
    875

    Default Re: overhauling an Asian import

    A well respected luthier here on the cafe offers "hotrodding" services and he says he has the best results with higher end mandolins like km900s, 950s, 1000s, 1050s etc. It would be cool to hear some sound bites.


    People in the guitar world seem very ready to send their D18s and D28s off to Brian for hotrodding but it seems less popular in the mandolin community.
    *2002 Collings MT2
    *2016 Gibson F5 Custom

    *Larrivee D-03R Guitar
    (And a bunch of wood and wire that makes noise...)

  3. #3
    Registered User fscotte's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Zanesville, Ohio
    Posts
    2,404

    Default Re: overhauling an Asian import

    If the mando has the potential to sound better, then yes, it could be made to sound better.

    But who decides whether or not it has that potential? So you play it and it sounds good. How would you know if it could sound great?

  4. #4
    Adrian Minarovic
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    Banska Bystrica, Slovakia, Europe
    Posts
    2,125

    Default Re: overhauling an Asian import

    The cost of work done, together with price of the mandolin will probably be more than value of new better mandolin... and cosmetics of "overhauled" mandolin will be damaged unless total refinish is done as well.
    I've done that to US import :-) (Gibson F-9 imported to EU) and it came out fine...(I posted about it here on cafe) but that mandolin had failed neck joint and other issues in construction that needed to be addressed. Owner got it fo very good price so he could afford all the work done (70+ hours) and at the end I think it would be chaper, faster and easier for builder to finish a new kit (Stew-Mac or such) than rebuild and refinsh bad mandolin. Were the owner not my friend I would decline the work...
    Adrian

  5. #5

    Default Re: overhauling an Asian import

    Isn’t this similar to the mandovoodoo, that Stephen Perry does? He doesn’t take the top off or recut the tone bars, but he makes those Eastman and Kentuckys sing, at least that’s what the owners say!

  6. The following members say thank you to Jerusalem Ridge for this post:


  7. #6
    Registered User Steve VandeWater's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Location
    Central Indiana
    Posts
    516

    Default Re: overhauling an Asian import

    There is an Aria Pro II pending sale in the classifieds right now that meets the parameters of this thread. It was revoiced by Ron Stewart. Ad # 117556. NFI
    It ain't gotta be perfect, as long as it's perfect enough!

  8. The following members say thank you to Steve VandeWater for this post:


  9. #7
    Adrian Minarovic
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    Banska Bystrica, Slovakia, Europe
    Posts
    2,125

    Default Re: overhauling an Asian import

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerusalem Ridge View Post
    Isn’t this similar to the mandovoodoo, that Stephen Perry does? He doesn’t take the top off or recut the tone bars, but he makes those Eastman and Kentuckys sing, at least that’s what the owners say!
    I've done that as well, but you need to get quite a range of measurements from the instrument to decide if there is any potential and if there is a way to do it through f-holes etc. That would take hour or two just to judge the potential. Just random thinning tonebars and accessible parts of top/back won't work on mandolin that has weird arching or way too thick uneven grads and uneven arch (like the F-9 I mentioned). You can thin back without opening instrument and partly top (except near tonebars) but you need a plan...
    If you pay $1k for KM1000 and then few 100s for overhaul you will still have some $800 resale value mandolin.
    Classical violin market is quite conservative and reworking existing old violins is a big NO where you are advised to buy higher level violin after you get to some level of playing (that means higher pedigreee) instead of tweaking your grandpa's old fiddle even if the new one won't really sound better than the old one would after overhaul - funny world.
    Adrian

  10. #8
    Registered User Steve VandeWater's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Location
    Central Indiana
    Posts
    516

    Default Re: overhauling an Asian import

    Quote Originally Posted by HoGo View Post
    I've done that as well, but you need to get quite a range of measurements from the instrument to decide if there is any potential and if there is a way to do it through f-holes etc. That would take hour or two just to judge the potential. Just random thinning tonebars and accessible parts of top/back won't work on mandolin that has weird arching or way too thick uneven grads and uneven arch (like the F-9 I mentioned). You can thin back without opening instrument and partly top (except near tonebars) but you need a plan...
    If you pay $1k for KM1000 and then few 100s for overhaul you will still have some $800 resale value mandolin.
    Classical violin market is quite conservative and reworking existing old violins is a big NO where you are advised to buy higher level violin after you get to some level of playing (that means higher pedigreee) instead of tweaking your grandpa's old fiddle even if the new one won't really sound better than the old one would after overhaul - funny world.
    I find it interesting that the Aria Pro II that I mentioned in reply #6 above has sold (pending payment) for $2,400. How much was it new? Perhaps someone WILL pay big for a re-worked instrument after all?
    It ain't gotta be perfect, as long as it's perfect enough!

  11. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to Steve VandeWater For This Useful Post:


  12. #9

    Default Re: overhauling an Asian import

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve VandeWater View Post
    Perhaps someone WILL pay big for a re-worked instrument after all?
    Yes, I thought that $2400 asking price was a bit steep for an Aria Pro II. (Perhaps it went for much less?) but I do believe there may be a budding cottage industry for revoicing Asian instruments if the mandolin is worth at least what the overhaul costs. Not all of them are worth it.

    Len B.
    Clearwater, FL

  13. The following members say thank you to lenf12 for this post:


  14. #10
    Adrian Minarovic
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    Banska Bystrica, Slovakia, Europe
    Posts
    2,125

    Default Re: overhauling an Asian import

    Quote Originally Posted by lenf12 View Post
    Yes, I thought that $2400 asking price was a bit steep for an Aria Pro II. (Perhaps it went for much less?) but I do believe there may be a budding cottage industry for revoicing Asian instruments if the mandolin is worth at least what the overhaul costs. Not all of them are worth it.
    Len B.
    Clearwater, FL
    You're probably right. I think the seller of the Aria Pro has been selling revoiced fiddles, mandolins and guitars on classifieds.
    Adrian

  15. The following members say thank you to HoGo for this post:


  16. #11

    Default Re: overhauling an Asian import

    Quote Originally Posted by HoGo View Post
    You're probably right. I think the seller of the Aria Pro has been selling revoiced fiddles, mandolins and guitars on classifieds.
    Yes Adrian, I believe we're talking about the same guy. I think about what the value of an Aria Pro II (not overhauled) is on the used instrument market; maybe $700 or so if all is right with it. To ask $2400 for a $700 mandolin because it was "overhauled" seems ambitious to me. After all, it is still an Aria Pro II not a Gibson F-9.

    Len B.
    Clearwater, FL

  17. #12
    Kelley Mandolins Skip Kelley's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    North Carolina
    Posts
    2,673

    Default Re: overhauling an Asian import

    I want to add my two cents. I have a Kentucky F model that the top caved in. I removed the top, regraduated the back, and made sure the dovetail neck joint looked good. I shimmed the fretboard plane of the neck because the original top had very little if any arch. I put a new top on it and I sounds incredible. But, it is still an Asian import. It's hard to think how to price it. It's complelety a better mandolin.

  18. #13

    Default Re: overhauling an Asian import

    Quote Originally Posted by Skip Kelley View Post
    I want to add my two cents. I have a Kentucky F model that the top caved in. I removed the top, regraduated the back, and made sure the dovetail neck joint looked good. I shimmed the fretboard plane of the neck because the original top had very little if any arch. I put a new top on it and I sounds incredible. But, it is still an Asian import. It's hard to think how to price it. It's complelety a better mandolin.
    In the case of the Aria Pro mentioned, it would want to be a completely better mandolin, for someone to pay something like five times its second-hand market value.

  19. #14
    Kelley Mandolins Skip Kelley's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    North Carolina
    Posts
    2,673

    Default Re: overhauling an Asian import

    I can't see that huge price for one! It's still an import! The Kentucky that I redid is as good as any mandolin out there but, it is still an imported mandolin at the end of the day!

  20. #15
    Lurkist dhergert's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Blue Zone, California
    Posts
    872

    Default Re: overhauling an Asian import

    Aren't we talking apples and pomegranates here though?

    As good as custom workmanship is on a rebuild, we're still talking about monetary value limited by what the instrument is.

    On the other side of this, one of these fine rebuilt instruments would be functionally equal or superior to some of the best new instruments.

    Maybe we're talking not so much about how much money an instrument is worth, compared to how much money an instrument saves the buyer. Two very different concepts, but maybe they should both come together to name a sale price.
    -- Don

    "It is a lot more fun to make music than it is to argue about it."

    2002
    Gibson F-9
    2016 "$199.00 solid F style" MKLFSTB
    1975 Suzuki taterbug
    (plus a large assortment of banjos, dobros, guitars, basses and other noisemakers)

  21. #16
    Registered User George R. Lane's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Helena, Montana
    Posts
    2,799

    Default Re: overhauling an Asian import

    That Ibanez is back in the classifieds.
    2010 Weber Yellowstone

    I maybe wrong, but it is highly doubtful.

  22. #17
    Registered User Steve VandeWater's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Location
    Central Indiana
    Posts
    516

    Default Re: overhauling an Asian import

    Quote Originally Posted by George R. Lane View Post
    That Ibanez is back in the classifieds.
    No, the other was an Aria. The Ibanez is another mandolin revoiced by Ron Stewart
    It ain't gotta be perfect, as long as it's perfect enough!

  23. The following members say thank you to Steve VandeWater for this post:


  24. #18
    Kelley Mandolins Skip Kelley's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    North Carolina
    Posts
    2,673

    Default Re: overhauling an Asian import

    Quote Originally Posted by dhergert View Post
    Aren't we talking apples and pomegranates here though?

    As good as custom workmanship is on a rebuild, we're still talking about monetary value limited by what the instrument is.

    On the other side of this, one of these fine rebuilt instruments would be functionally equal or superior to some of the best new instruments.

    Maybe we're talking not so much about how much money an instrument is worth, compared to how much money an instrument saves the buyer. Two very different concepts, but maybe they should both come together to name a sale price.
    Don, that is a very good way to look at it! The Kentucky that I re-topped Is significantly better than any factory Kentucky you will find. (my opinion only) What it's worth will come down to what someone is willing to pay and how bad I want to sell it.

  25. #19

    Default Re: overhauling an Asian import

    FWIW, and on a similar note, there is a small subculture of guitar players and repairmen who take old (usually USA, not Asian) vintage cheapo guitars such as Harmony Sovereign, which were ladder-braced, and redo the top bracing with x-bracing and scalloped braces like old pre-war Martins. The wood in some of these guitars is excellent and the results are amazing, heck a Sovereign sounds pretty good with the normal ladder-bracing, for that matter! Anyway the problem seems to be that these guitars sell for $250-600 depending on the condition, before the makeover. (eBay prices...) They all seem to have high action and need a neckset anyway, so redoing the bracing completes the makeover.....good stuff except when sellers try to get paid for their labor by charging $1800-2400 for these old Harmonys and sales are quite sluggish, because you can get a 70's D-18 or D-28 for that kind of money. Soundwise the revamped Harmony is actually on par with the Martin, but the Martin has a better resale track record. So I guess I'm saying it looks like these guys are pricing themselves out of the market, but then again there is one guy who has done close to 100 of these conversions, so people do like them. Tough call, IMHO....

  26. #20

    Default Re: overhauling an Asian import

    My daughter's first good viola was a Chinese instrument of the $2500 quality range. A violin shop went to the importer, cherry picked two or three out of a hundred, took them apart and recarved the tops an backs. Charged $4500 for his finished work. It blew the doors off everything else under $8000. She played that through her education(doctorate in performance) and just recently moved up to the $25,000 class, so she got a good 10 years from it.

    So I'm a believer you can take good and make better.
    Silverangel A
    Michael Kelly LSFTB
    Arches F style kit
    1913 Gibson A-1

  27. #21
    Certified! Bernie Daniel's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    Cincinnati, Ohio, USA
    Posts
    7,826
    Blog Entries
    4

    Default Re: overhauling an Asian import

    Quote Originally Posted by Skip Kelley View Post
    I want to add my two cents. I have a Kentucky F model that the top caved in. I removed the top, regraduated the back, and made sure the dovetail neck joint looked good. I shimmed the fretboard plane of the neck because the original top had very little if any arch. I put a new top on it and I sounds incredible. But, it is still an Asian import. It's hard to think how to price it. It's complelety a better mandolin.
    Since you changed the top board and made other changes to the mandolin perhaps it is not longer "just a Kentucky" - it is something else. So perhaps changing the head stock cover plate could be justified as well as a higher selling price? As long as you were up front about what was done of course. My point is the mandolin is now more than a "Kentucky" so its selling prince and its resale price should reflect that? "Better than a Kentucky" is probably too much to inlay in the head stock though.

    It goes both ways and I do not know if there are hard rules. For example, I put a mandocello neck on a Gibson arch top guitar and because it suited my purposes I put "Gibson" back on the new head stock.
    Bernie
    ____
    Due to current budgetary restrictions the light at the end of the tunnel has been turned off -- sorry about the inconvenience.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •