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Thread: Ebay Mandolin Chop Shop

  1. #1

    Default Ebay Mandolin Chop Shop

    I was looking over THIS heavily played teens Gibson A model today, and noticed another example of the trend to shop out a functioning instrument for parts. By clicking on 'seller's other items' it's pretty likely that this seller took a basically playable old mandolin, and is gambling on making slightly more money by stripping it of hardware, bridge, tuners, case, even end pin - and selling them separately.

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    I can't really condemn the seller - and there were some 100,000 Gibson prewar instruments made - but I don't think anyone who loves the history of old instruments can help but regret this trend. Once a working instrument is parted out, that circle can never be unbroken.
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  2. #2
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ebay Mandolin Chop Shop

    Well, yes. People have been doing that for years. I have one that I have considered doing the same way. The mandolin had a really poor repair and the sum of the parts is worth much more than I can get for it as a complete mandolin. It isn't a gamble, it's pretty much a sure thing. For the person that has a pristine instrument except for a missing tailpiece, case, pickguard, clamp etc. it's a godsend. One leaves and several more stay as original as possible.

    The carcass becomes a "player" with replacement parts.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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    Registered User Timbofood's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ebay Mandolin Chop Shop

    Honestly, the only time I see that as being reasonable is when the corpus has been neglected for so long that restoration is not an option and, that does happen. It’s a sad fact but one which must be kept in mind. I’m thinking serious neglect or abuse, not just the progression of the years.
    I am reminded of a guy that played in a “locallish” band back in the ‘70’s around here, he clamped a sax strap in the sound hole of what was (once’ a nice old F-2. That’s abuse. I still cringe thinking about his wild gyrations and pounding the top right to shreds.
    5at went a bit off track but, you get the idea.
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  5. #4

    Default Re: Ebay Mandolin Chop Shop

    Controversial subject. Like Mike says it often makes sense financially. I first noticed it starting on eBay with vintage guitars being parts out about 15 years ago. Back then a 50's custom color Stratocaster was $25K, but a refinished one was $3500 -- people soon found out the refinished one could be parted out for $10K or more. There have been parts sellers for years at vintage guitar shows, but eBay provided an outlet to sell the parts quickly to the people who needed them. Soon, it wasn't just refinished guitars being parted out -- original finish guitars with repaired pegheads soon became victims. Then, it wasn't long before mint original guitars like 60's Fender Mustangs could be bought for $1000 or less and parted out for $1600-1700. Tough call. I don't like mint instruments with no issues being destroyed. Like Mike says, hopefully the parts are being used to restore clean original instruments with original parts.

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  7. #5
    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ebay Mandolin Chop Shop

    Howie is a well-known collector who's been at this for a long time. I can't see myself doing this to a vintage instrument, but one never knows.
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    Registered User Eric Platt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ebay Mandolin Chop Shop

    Makes me think there is something else happening with that mandolin. Maybe the neck set is bad or the top is collapsing. Not saying it is, but that's another reason in my mind to part it out.

    Also wouldn't surprise me if the owner had tried to sell it as a complete instrument, but was having no luck.

    Full disclosure - have been watching the bridge and trying to decide if it's worth taking the chance to see if it would fit on my Gibson A.
    1910 Gibson A, 1929 Gibson A Jr., 2018 Eastman MDO-305, 2018 Big Muddy MW-0, ca. 2000 Breedlove Cascade
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  9. #7
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ebay Mandolin Chop Shop

    Quote Originally Posted by mrmando View Post
    Howie is a well-known collector who's been at this for a long time...
    He's also a member of the Cafe.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  10. #8
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ebay Mandolin Chop Shop

    Quote Originally Posted by mrmando View Post
    Howie is a well-known collector who's been at this for a long time. I can't see myself doing this to a vintage instrument, but one never knows.
    Hmmmm... with all his expertise??? Walnut body material?

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  11. #9
    Registered User Eric Platt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ebay Mandolin Chop Shop

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    Hmmmm... with all his expertise??? Walnut body material?
    Never used the musical instrument item specifics - but wonder if there isn't an option for birch? He has it in the title. So it could be an eBay thing.

    And I like the fact that he's being honest about the fingerboard wear and the options. Makes more sense to me why it's being parted out. If someone had parts around and some skill at repair, could end up with an players A at a good price.
    1910 Gibson A, 1929 Gibson A Jr., 2018 Eastman MDO-305, 2018 Big Muddy MW-0, ca. 2000 Breedlove Cascade
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    Registered User Grizzly Adams's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ebay Mandolin Chop Shop

    Back when I was restoring Model A Fords, I was sure glad there were folks out there "parting out" cars! In parting out examples that were not cost effective to restore, they insured that many many others would live again. I see no difference when it come to musical instruments.
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  14. #11

    Default Re: Ebay Mandolin Chop Shop

    Quote Originally Posted by Grizzly Adams View Post
    Back when I was restoring Model A Fords, I was sure glad there were folks out there "parting out" cars! In parting out examples that were not cost effective to restore, they insured that many many others would live again. I see no difference when it come to musical instruments.
    I see your point, but I guess it depends on who's doing the work.

    If all the work has to be hired (done by someone else), then yeah I agree that "cost effective" is a major deciding factor... and things can add up fast.

    But for instance with cars, there are people who do all their own bodywork and metal fabrication (got one here in this household, I've seen him do almost miraculous things with metal), including - if necessary & if he's sufficiently motivated - creating new panels from scratch starting with flat sheets of steel and making them into the proper curved shapes to replace rusted-out sections. Yes it takes time, but time is not a factor when working on your own stuff in your free time, you don't have to pay yourself for something you do because you enjoy doing it, so the old saying about "time is money" doesn't apply in that case.

    But there has to be some motivation. In the case of old cars, one can:

    • Restore it to roadworthy condition and make it look nice while you're at it, then you get to drive it. So it needs to be a make/model that you actually have a particular fondness for, not just some random vehicle.

    • Restore it and sell it, although I've never seen packrats do much selling.

    • Fix stuff as a communal/group effort working on projects with friends (person A does the metalwork, person B does the upholstery, and so forth).


    But if a person was trying to 'flip' cars (that needed major restoration) for profit, or 'flip' musical instruments for the sole purpose of making money from them, can't see hiring very much stuff done, it would cost too much. Although certain specialty things are best farmed out (grinding crankshafts etc) if you don't have the specialty equipment or the patience/expertise for it.

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