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Thread: Question re Lyon and Heally Bowlbacks

  1. #1
    Registered User Tim Logan's Avatar
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    Default Question re Lyon and Heally Bowlbacks

    I am interested in knowing which of the Lyon and Healy bowlbacks was considered their most "professional", best constructed bowlback. Any help would be appreciated. Thank you.

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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Question re Lyon and Heally Bowlbacks

    Ironically the bowlbacks that are actually labelled Lyon & Healy are the lower-end ones. Their upper-end line for bowlbacks was Washburn labelled. American Conservatory was the mid-grade but there are some that are fancier than some of the Washburns.

    I am not sure what you mean by "professional." All of the above were constructed well but may not be in good shape after years of mistreatment. Or do you mean one that would be good for a professional player? Are you considering a particular mandolin? Why are you looking at only Lyon & Healy bowlbacks?

    If you are looking at vintage bowlbacks, I would also consider Martins and Vegas and some of the quality Italian brands, like Calace, Vinaccia, Embergher, DeMeglio, and Ceccherini.

    Often you don't have to get a fancy ornate mandolin and the plainer ones can be just as good sounding or playing.
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    Default Re: Question re Lyon and Heally Bowlbacks

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post

    If you are looking at vintage bowlbacks, I would also consider Martins and Vegas and some of the quality Italian brands, like Calace, Vinaccia, Embergher, DeMeglio, and Ceccherini.

    Often you don't have to get a fancy ornate mandolin and the plainer ones can be just as good sounding or playing.
    I would add Puglisi as a good bowlback, I have one that is my favorite bowlback to play out of the four I have.

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    Registered User Tim Logan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Question re Lyon and Heally Bowlbacks

    Hi Jim -
    Thanks for the input. I appreciate it very much. I have been studying a book by Charles Pleijsuer titled Washburn Prewar Instrument styles. Although the information in the book is quite extensive, it is hard to determine what the "top of the line" (meaning the the model with the highest quality materials and construction) bowlback model is. If original pricing has anything to do with it, it would suggest the Washborn catalogue # G-2662 is the premier model. I do not know if price differences are mainly due to cosmetic differences. Perhaps all models are somewhat similar and only the cosmetics are different? In any event I am trying to determine which of the old bowlbacks would make a high quality classical instrument (if any) and I will check out the various makes you recommended. Thank you again for the input.
    Tim

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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Question re Lyon and Heally Bowlbacks

    Quote Originally Posted by Tim Logan View Post
    Hi Jim -
    Thanks for the input. I appreciate it very much. I have been studying a book by Charles Pleijsuer titled Washburn Prewar Instrument styles. Although the information in the book is quite extensive, it is hard to determine what the "top of the line" (meaning the the model with the highest quality materials and construction) bowlback model is. If original pricing has anything to do with it, it would suggest the Washborn catalogue # G-2662 is the premier model. I do not know if price differences are mainly due to cosmetic differences. Perhaps all models are somewhat similar and only the cosmetics are different? In any event I am trying to determine which of the old bowlbacks would make a high quality classical instrument (if any) and I will check out the various makes you recommended. Thank you again for the input.
    Tim
    Tim the book is by Hubert Pleijsier and he sometimes posts on the forums here. What page are you looking at in Hubert's book that you see a G-2662 mandolin? I don't see it in that book.

    They also changed the names/numbers of mandolins every few years from late 19th century into the 1920s. Essentially the super fancy, upper-end mandolins differed mostly cosmetically at least in the Washburn line. The 275 or 1125 had lots of inlay and pearl and many ribs, sometimes fluted but essentially would be the same woods (spruce and rosewood). I think there was an option for the 1125 to have an extended fretboard but most did not.

    I don't know what you are looking for and what level you are playing at but most advanced classical players would probably want to have an extended fretboard. For the most part you can do quite well with a mid-grade, more simply adorned mandolin as the decoration doesn't really add anything to the tone quality. In fact, in the case of the pearl fretboard models, it makes it more difficult to refret since there is a chance of the pearl chipping during that process.

    I have a perfectly serviceable Vega style 3 that sounds and plays wonderfully.

    I am not sure if you are only interested in bowlbacks or only in Washburns, but some classical players also play Gibsons or Lyon & Healy carved mandolins. There is a wide range of mandolin types used by classical players. I suggest you see if you can actually try out and play these types and see what suits you and the music you play. I know a few folks who wanted to get a bowlback and then found that it was hard to adapt to the bowl and how to hold it.

    If you can give us some more details about what you are looking for perhaps we can help you narrow that down.
    Jim

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    Default Re: Question re Lyon and Heally Bowlbacks

    Jim is correct that bowlbacks are different to hold and play due to the bowl shape, but people DO adapt back and forth from A- and F-styles to bowlbacks. IMHO, bowlbacks are particularly suited to Baroque music.

  10. #7
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Question re Lyon and Heally Bowlbacks

    I have had little problem switching back and forth. I have a closetful of bowlbacks and there have been many times in my mandolin life when I play them exclusively. The funniest was when I was at CMSA conventiion back in 2004 and the only mandolin I had with me was my Pandini bowlback and I got into a jazz and swing jam playing the Pandini.

    In any case, it would help of the OP would give us a little more info on his background as a player and what he is looking for.
    Last edited by Jim Garber; Mar-03-2018 at 3:51pm.
    Jim

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    Default Re: Question re Lyon and Heally Bowlbacks

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post


    If you are looking at vintage bowlbacks, I would also consider Martins and Vegas and some of the quality Italian brands, like Calace, Vinaccia, Embergher, DeMeglio, and Ceccherini.
    From my experience, I'd add Monzino, Mozzani, Salsedo to the list. Lots of good Italian boowlbacks out there; condition is the important factor.

  12. #9
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Question re Lyon and Heally Bowlbacks

    Yes, to Mozzani (of those I have actually played). With a plate of spaghetti with bolognese sauce.
    Jim

    My Stream on Soundcloud
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    19th Century Tunes - Old Sheet Music for mandolin

    Playing lately:
    1923 Gibson A2 black snakehead -- Brentrup A4C -- 1915 Frank Merwin Ashley violin -- Huss & Dalton DS -- 1937 Gibson L-Century -- 1939 Gibson L-00 -- ca. 1890s Fairbanks Senator Banjo -- ca. 1923 Vega Style M tenor banjo -- Gibson TB-Junior -- National RM-1

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