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Thread: 1970s Sobell

  1. #1
    Registered User zoukboy's Avatar
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    Default 1970s Sobell

    This is a 1978 Sobell cittern that was the first zoukoid instrument I owned, purchased second hand from Gerald Trimble in 1981 (and sold a couple of years later when I bought another Sobell 2nd hand from GT). It changed hands two more times but was kept by the 5th owner for the past 30+ years. Last week it came back to me and is in need of some TLC (but I am sending it to a repairman tomorrow). Thought some of you might like to see it.

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    Roger Landes
    http://rogerlandes.com
    The Hal Leonard Irish Bouzouki Method:
    http://www.halleonard.com/product/vi...?itemid=696348
    "House to House" with Randal Bays
    http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/bayslandes
    "The Janissary Stomp" with Chipper Thompson
    http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/rogerchipper

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  3. #2
    Registered User zoukboy's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1970s Sobell

    Specs:
    19" scale
    Maple back and sides and peghead overlay
    Cedar top
    Mahogany neck
    Ebony fretboard
    Body width: 13.5"
    length: 15.5" to end of heel
    depth: 3.25" at heel
    3.75" at tail
    Nut width: 1.75"
    Roger Landes
    http://rogerlandes.com
    The Hal Leonard Irish Bouzouki Method:
    http://www.halleonard.com/product/vi...?itemid=696348
    "House to House" with Randal Bays
    http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/bayslandes
    "The Janissary Stomp" with Chipper Thompson
    http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/rogerchipper

  4. #3
    Administrator Mandolin Cafe's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1970s Sobell

    Pretty sure I remember you playing this, Roger. Its been awhile. Cool story you got it back.

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  6. #4
    Mangler of Tunes OneChordTrick's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1970s Sobell

    Lovely piece of history. The 3 digit telephone number takes me back!

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  8. #5
    Registered User liestman's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1970s Sobell

    Same label as my mandolin. Apparently his son was making the tailpieces back then. I would love to hear your once it gets fixed up!
    John Liestman -
    Eye new ewe wood lye kit!

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  10. #6
    Registered User zoukboy's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1970s Sobell

    Quote Originally Posted by Mandolin Cafe View Post
    Pretty sure I remember you playing this, Roger. Its been awhile. Cool story you got it back.
    Might be, John. Don't remember the first time I met you but I think the first time I was at NTIF with Scartaglen was after I'd sold this one.
    Roger Landes
    http://rogerlandes.com
    The Hal Leonard Irish Bouzouki Method:
    http://www.halleonard.com/product/vi...?itemid=696348
    "House to House" with Randal Bays
    http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/bayslandes
    "The Janissary Stomp" with Chipper Thompson
    http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/rogerchipper

  11. #7
    Registered User zoukboy's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1970s Sobell

    Quote Originally Posted by zoukboy View Post
    This is a 1978 Sobell cittern that was the first zoukoid instrument I owned, purchased second hand from Gerald Trimble in 1981 (and sold a couple of years later when I bought another Sobell 2nd hand from GT). It changed hands two more times but was kept by the 5th owner for the past 30+ years. Last week it came back to me and is in need of some TLC (but I am sending it to a repairman tomorrow). Thought some of you might like to see it.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Follow-up: this instrument is now with a master builder in TN for repair. Should have it on a couple of months.
    Roger Landes
    http://rogerlandes.com
    The Hal Leonard Irish Bouzouki Method:
    http://www.halleonard.com/product/vi...?itemid=696348
    "House to House" with Randal Bays
    http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/bayslandes
    "The Janissary Stomp" with Chipper Thompson
    http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/rogerchipper

  12. #8

    Default Re: 1970s Sobell

    The top damage is a fairly common ailment amongst older Sobell citterns. Stefan changed the design to stop this happening - it's a pretty simple fix.

    Skip (Stefan's son) is only a few years older than me - I'd be surprised if he was making tailpieces in the 70s as he'd be a schoolboy, but, you never know. Whilst I was there,(late 80s to early naughties) we made them for the first few years, then a chap in a shed made them for us. No idea who was making them in the 70s.

    Those old Sobells can be a bit "hit and miss" but when you get a good one - keep a hold of it. They are coming up more often these days as that 70s generation are now in their 70s.

    Nice to see the pics Roger - it looks like a nice one.

    Nigel
    http://www.nkforsterguitars.com/inst...rish-bouzouki/

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  14. #9
    Registered User liestman's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1970s Sobell

    Nigel, when we came to visit Stefan in the late 80s (and met you in passing) he told me that Skip had made the tailpiece and that helped him date my mandolin, which I bought 2nd hand. I am not sure what features pointed to Skip. Anyway, my mandolin is definitely a "hit" with a really sweet tone. Has the original blue case with blue shaggy interior that always draws comments.

    Roger, when you get her back we will have to compare tailpieces. After all, we both live in Texas and you are only an 8 hour highway drive away!
    John Liestman -
    Eye new ewe wood lye kit!

  15. #10
    Registered User zoukboy's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1970s Sobell

    Quote Originally Posted by liestman View Post
    Nigel, when we came to visit Stefan in the late 80s (and met you in passing) he told me that Skip had made the tailpiece and that helped him date my mandolin, which I bought 2nd hand. I am not sure what features pointed to Skip. Anyway, my mandolin is definitely a "hit" with a really sweet tone. Has the original blue case with blue shaggy interior that always draws comments.

    Roger, when you get her back we will have to compare tailpieces. After all, we both live in Texas and you are only an 8 hour highway drive away!
    John - what year is your mando?

    Yes, we could each drive 4 hours and meet halfway.
    Roger Landes
    http://rogerlandes.com
    The Hal Leonard Irish Bouzouki Method:
    http://www.halleonard.com/product/vi...?itemid=696348
    "House to House" with Randal Bays
    http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/bayslandes
    "The Janissary Stomp" with Chipper Thompson
    http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/rogerchipper

  16. #11
    Registered User Reinhardt's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1970s Sobell

    Maybe slightly off topic Roger, I know from your history you've played a lot of different bouzoukis. ( I have too!!). Just wonder how you rate Sobells to other makers you have played. I personally have had Foleys , Crumps, Tobins, Forsters, Abnetts, Fyldes , Farmilloes ( that was a strange one. Fibreglass back!!) and a few others. In some cases multiples of each, Foley, Tobin and Forster.

    I have 2 all time favourites out of them all, both of which I still have. A large bodied Tobin and a 2006 standard body arch top Forster. Both fantastic instruments and both keepers. Instruments that I have let go and still regret big time, a large body Foley and a small body Tobin. Would buy both back in an instant ( if I had the money and my wife was out of the house!!).

    I'm probably like you and a lot of musicians out there, always looking for the perfect instrument and always on the look out for the holy grail. Just wondering if the Sobell could be it!! Never played one, ever ever ever!!! Its all Foleys by and large over here.

    An interesting relatively new maker on the scene here in Dublin ( since 2000!!) is Frank Tate. He's building up quite a reputation. Has made a bouzouki for Donal Lunny aka God, which is described as a baritone. Also made stuff for Ed Sheeran and most recently Paul Simon. Yes, that Paul Simon!! Franks website isnt great to be honest, he has a facebook page where you'll get a better idea of what he does. He's made a few Arch Top zouks lately.

    Take care Roger, hope the Sobell repair goes well.

    John

  17. #12
    Registered User liestman's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1970s Sobell

    Roger I believe Stefan pegged mine as 1977. Same label as your zouk.
    John Liestman -
    Eye new ewe wood lye kit!

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  19. #13
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    Default Re: 1970s Sobell

    Reminds me of the story and video of Bill Frisell on the Fretboard Journal web site. Bill recovered his first good jazz guitar, a Gibson ES 175 with some custom features, many years after he sold it in the 70's in his early career. It came back with no modifications and well played but otherwise as it left his hands. Cool video and the whole story is fascinating!

    https://www.fretboardjournal.com/fea...isells-es-175/

    Larry
    Last edited by lklose; Aug-03-2018 at 12:52pm. Reason: more info
    Larry

    2000 Unicorn and Mustang LF-5
    2002 Manoel Andrade Bandolim

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  21. #14
    Registered User zoukboy's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1970s Sobell

    Quote Originally Posted by Reinhardt View Post
    Maybe slightly off topic Roger, I know from your history you've played a lot of different bouzoukis. ( I have too!!). Just wonder how you rate Sobells to other makers you have played. I personally have had Foleys , Crumps, Tobins, Forsters, Abnetts, Fyldes , Farmilloes ( that was a strange one. Fibreglass back!!) and a few others. In some cases multiples of each, Foley, Tobin and Forster.

    I have 2 all time favourites out of them all, both of which I still have. A large bodied Tobin and a 2006 standard body arch top Forster. Both fantastic instruments and both keepers. Instruments that I have let go and still regret big time, a large body Foley and a small body Tobin. Would buy both back in an instant ( if I had the money and my wife was out of the house!!).

    I'm probably like you and a lot of musicians out there, always looking for the perfect instrument and always on the look out for the holy grail. Just wondering if the Sobell could be it!! Never played one, ever ever ever!!! Its all Foleys by and large over here.

    An interesting relatively new maker on the scene here in Dublin ( since 2000!!) is Frank Tate. He's building up quite a reputation. Has made a bouzouki for Donal Lunny aka God, which is described as a baritone. Also made stuff for Ed Sheeran and most recently Paul Simon. Yes, that Paul Simon!! Franks website isnt great to be honest, he has a facebook page where you'll get a better idea of what he does. He's made a few Arch Top zouks lately.

    Take care Roger, hope the Sobell repair goes well.

    John
    Hello John,

    I have had four Sobells (three citterns, one mando), three Stephen Owsley Smiths (two 10 string zouks, one mando), 3 Herb Taylors (two zouks and one tenor guitar), as well as a bunch of other, related instruments. I would say that my tastes have really evolved away from arched top instruments so that I much prefer flat-topped 4 course instruments since about 2004. I got this little '78 Sobell cittern/mandola back because it was offered to me and I just couldn't pass it up for sentimental reasons. I do expect to play it, though, when I get it back from repair. I would not venture an opinion on which builder is the "best" as there are so many great ones out there. I just hope to find one that suits me and seems to have some inspiration in it. YMMV, NFI, etc., etc. I do wish I had an Abnett from back in the day, but you never know, one might show up.

    Cheers,
    Roger Landes
    http://rogerlandes.com
    The Hal Leonard Irish Bouzouki Method:
    http://www.halleonard.com/product/vi...?itemid=696348
    "House to House" with Randal Bays
    http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/bayslandes
    "The Janissary Stomp" with Chipper Thompson
    http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/rogerchipper

  22. #15
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    Default Re: 1970s Sobell

    Quote Originally Posted by nkforster View Post
    Skip (Stefan's son) is only a few years older than me - I'd be surprised if he was making tailpieces in the 70s as he'd be a schoolboy, but, you never know.
    Yep, you never know. My dental hygienist, the daughter of a high-end tube amp builder here in northern NJ, learned to solder when she was seven!
    - Ed

    "What our group lacks in musicianship is offset by our willingness to humiliate ourselves." - David Hochman

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