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Thread: Bohmann octave mandolin

  1. #1
    Registered User nmiller's Avatar
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    Default Bohmann octave mandolin

    I've been thinking of getting an OM for a while now, and I've also been keeping an eye out for a well-preserved guitar or mandolin by Joseph Bohmann. Sometimes, everything just comes together:

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    It has many of the wacky features that Bohmann is famous for: double tailpiece, his patented tuners, and metal rods inside the body intended to give sympathetic vibration. I'd read that these rods had minimal effect, if any, and that's definitely true. Their mute system still works, and I can't discern a difference in sound either way. The mandolin has a pleasant tone and reasonably nice volume; the G strings sound a little thinner than the rest, but I find this problem on a lot of larger mandolin-family creations. Remarkably, the tuners are about as smooth as most new ones.

    As this is my first OM, I'm still adapting to the neck. Fast tenor guitar-style chords is out; the neck is just too chunky. However, picking individual notes is a breeze on the wide, radiused fretboard. The intonation isn't perfect, but I've heard worse.

    There is a big "PAT APLD. FOR" scrawled across the neck block. Assuming this refers to the design patent for the arched top and sympathetic rods, that narrows down the date of construction to between October 1911 and February 1915 - the dates the patent was filed and awarded.

    Here's a quick sound clip:
    www.OldFrets.com: the obscure side of vintage instruments.

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  3. #2

    Default Re: Bohmann octave mandolin

    cool demo

  4. #3
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bohmann octave mandolin

    From Carter Vintage?
    Allen Hopkins
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  5. #4
    Registered User nmiller's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bohmann octave mandolin

    Maybe...
    www.OldFrets.com: the obscure side of vintage instruments.

  6. #5
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bohmann octave mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by nmiller View Post
    Maybe...
    Google tells me they had one for sale, but it's sold. Of course, with the hundreds of Bohmann octave mandolins flooding the market, could be just coincidence, but still...
    Allen Hopkins
    Gibsn: '54 F5 3pt F2 A-N Custm K1 m'cello
    Natl Triolian Dobro mando
    Victoria b-back Merrill alumnm b-back
    H-O mandolinetto
    Stradolin Vega banjolin
    Sobell'dola Washburn b-back'dola
    Eastmn: 615'dola 805 m'cello
    Flatiron 3K OM

  7. #6
    mando-evangelist August Watters's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bohmann octave mandolin

    Does anyone have information on how this instrument was marketed? What was it called? Surely they didn't call it "octave mandolin," as that idea came about later. Was it called a mandola, like an American counterpart to the Italian GDAE mandola? Or did it have some other name? Or was there an earlier "octave mandolin" I'm not aware of?

  8. #7
    Registered User nmiller's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bohmann octave mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by allenhopkins View Post
    Google tells me they had one for sale, but it's sold. Of course, with the hundreds of Bohmann octave mandolins flooding the market, could be just coincidence, but still...
    Nah, I'm just kidding around. It's the same one; I pounced as soon as I saw it come up on Carter's website. Interestingly, there are photos of a perfectly identical instrument in another thread. As it was remarked elsewhere in that thread, it's unusual to find two Bohmann creations that are so similar.

    Quote Originally Posted by August Watters View Post
    Does anyone have information on how this instrument was marketed? What was it called? Surely they didn't call it "octave mandolin," as that idea came about later. Was it called a mandola, like an American counterpart to the Italian GDAE mandola? Or did it have some other name? Or was there an earlier "octave mandolin" I'm not aware of?
    There's no indication from the labels inside the instrument. Most of the information available on Bohmann is summarized on this page, though it focuses on his harp guitars. He did put out two catalogs in the 1890s, but I haven't seen the pages devoted to the mandolin family. I know that Stahl marketed an instrument in between the [tenor] mandola and mandocello that was called a "bass-mandolin" - not to be confused with the mandobass, which was pictured alongside it in ads.
    www.OldFrets.com: the obscure side of vintage instruments.

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    Registered User foldedpath's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bohmann octave mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by August Watters View Post
    Does anyone have information on how this instrument was marketed? What was it called? Surely they didn't call it "octave mandolin," as that idea came about later. Was it called a mandola, like an American counterpart to the Italian GDAE mandola? Or did it have some other name? Or was there an earlier "octave mandolin" I'm not aware of?
    Well, there is the one example of a Gibson OM from 1904, pre-dating the Bohmann by at least 7 years:

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/s...ctave-Mandolin

    I don't think it's been established whether this was a one-off experiment, someone's custom order, or there may be more stashed under beds and in attics.

  11. #9
    mando-evangelist August Watters's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bohmann octave mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by foldedpath View Post
    Well, there is the one example of a Gibson OM from 1904, pre-dating the Bohmann by at least 7 years:

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/s...ctave-Mandolin
    OK, that thread quotes George Gruhn (in post #45) as saying these were called "octave mandola" at the time. Which would be curious, since that's another name for GDAE tuning, which I hadn't heard go back that far. Considering the huge influx of Italian immigrants in that era, one might have expected SOMEone to think to call this a mandola, since it's in the same tuning.

    Sure would be nice if someone could find this Bohmann in a catalog, so we can know what it was called!

  12. #10
    Registered User gweetarpicker's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bohmann octave mandolin

    I have not seen this style of "slope shouldered" Bohmann mandolin family instruments in a catalog. I have an early Bohmann catalog (c1899) that has only bowlbacks in it. Prices for mandolas are given as well but the text doesn't specify if the mandolas are octave or tenor tuning. The term "octave mandola" was used by many builders here early on (e.g., in the Howe-Orme, Maurer and Gibson catalogs), and bowlbacks tuned GDAE (an octave below mandolin) and simply called "mandolas" were popular in Europe even before that. The European makers, Thomastik and Calace, both still produce "mandola" strings for GDAE tuning and "alt mandola" or "mandoliloa" strings for CGDA (i.e., tenor mandola) tuning. The Howe-Orme catalog calls their mandocello a "cello mandola."

  13. #11
    Registered User gweetarpicker's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bohmann octave mandolin

    Love the instrument. I'm curious what type of strings you have on it in the recording? I have a similar Bohmann octave and have been experimenting with string choices.

  14. #12
    Registered User nmiller's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bohmann octave mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by gweetarpicker View Post
    Love the instrument. I'm curious what type of strings you have on it in the recording? I have a similar Bohmann octave and have been experimenting with string choices.
    They're the strings I got it with, which are 80/20 13-48s. I wouldn't go any heavier due to the thin top and some relief in the neck, but I do plan on swapping them out for phosphor bronze to hopefully bring out more bass.
    www.OldFrets.com: the obscure side of vintage instruments.

  15. #13
    Registered User usqebach's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bohmann octave mandolin

    Now that is just way cool! I tried to corner the market in his violins (well, I bought 2 anyway) when an ebay seller was clearing out the old warehouse inventory. The violins were interesting, but not really tonally up to the task, so they drifted away.

    I'd pay good money for a novelty like that!
    Jim Sims

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  16. #14

    Default Re: Bohmann octave mandolin

    that is a fantastically cool instrument. i loved the renaisance too cool two point body, almost an opharion. a great buy.

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