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Thread: Shutt mandolins

  1. #1
    Registered User slimt's Avatar
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    Default Shutt mandolins

    What are your takes on these. I bought one last night. The sound and playability are really nice. Only issue is its a players mandolin with a pickup installed in the top along with a volume and tone. I got it i think cheap. The up side it came with a rectangle gibson F5 case.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Shutt mandolins

    Is it an original Shutt or one made by Harmony for Sears and sold as the Supertone Viol? A version was made by Harmony in the late 30s or early 40s that was not as good as the 1920s versions. They seem to be highly regarded instruments.

  3. #3
    Registered User slimt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Shutt mandolins

    I believe its a real shutt solid ebony board highly solid flamed back in a gray green opaque color looks to be a high grade rosewood veneer on the face of the peghead and transparent black on the top.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Shutt mandolins

    The 1920s Harmony made instruments have a stylised cross motif that is circular on the headstock. They were good quality instruments with a carved top.

  5. #5
    Registered User slimt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Shutt mandolins

    Quote Originally Posted by NickR View Post
    The 1920s Harmony made instruments have a stylised cross motif that is circular on the headstock. They were good quality instruments with a carved top.
    Ill post pictures,,

  6. #6
    Registered User slimt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Shutt mandolins

    here is a few picts.. to bad about the pickup being added.. but still a nice player..

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  7. #7

    Default Re: Shutt mandolins

    This is a model, thought to have been made by Harmony, over several decades. It looks like a pretty good conversion to electric, and perhaps a partial refinish. It’s a pretty light, pressed solid wood top, and it would be interesting to hear how it sounds as an electric. And to know whether any bracing was added to stiffen the top.
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  8. #8

    Default Re: Shutt mandolins

    That's a great instrument. I am not sure if the original Shutt has a one piece or two piece back. The Harmony made Viols have a two piece back of flamed maple.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Shutt mandolins

    I believe the 1920s Harmony made mandolins are carved and that is the opinion of others that have worked on them- those far more qualified to give an opinion than myself! I think the later version made by Harmony was pressed not carved.

  10. #10
    Registered User slimt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Shutt mandolins

    No bracing in the top it has the black thread material vertical in the back seam and top. It feels carved inside ..i will plug it in a get some idea what it sounds like.

  11. #11
    Registered User slimt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Shutt mandolins

    I gave 180 cdn for it with the f5 case case looks like from the mid 60s

  12. #12
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Shutt mandolins

    Quote Originally Posted by NickR View Post
    The 1920s Harmony made instruments have a stylised cross motif that is circular on the headstock. They were good quality instruments with a carved top.
    Not all of them.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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  14. #13

    Default Re: Shutt mandolins

    Harmony liked to glue material on the backs of their arched top instruments rather than bracing. That's a very good deal at that price. It is reckoned that Harmony did not screw the tuner units down inside the headstock when they had enclosed tuners. Take a peek inside the recesses and see if that is the case! I suppose it is also possible that Mr Shutt also economised on screws.

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    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Shutt mandolins

    Here is a slew of threads, some with pictures and catalog pages regarding these instruments.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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  18. #15

    Default Re: Shutt mandolins

    Yes, the later version was sold under the name of Playtime by Sears in the very early 1940s and has a different headstock shape and f holes and would have been a pressed top.

  19. #16

    Default Re: Shutt mandolins

    A few things to note on this model, and I've examined, played and/or worked on maybe ten.

    You can divide them into three categories: Those made and sold by Albert Shutt himself (and there are several designs of these, and much scarcer than the factory produced and mass marketed ones), those associated with the Shutt patents but almost certainly made by Harmony (the two shoulder design seen in this thread), and a later design with a shorter neck and differently shaped ff-holes which was sold into the fifties or sixties, I believe.

    Sticking to the design of the OP's instrument: There was a lot of variation in the details over the years. Different woods and different quality of those woods in the various components, different headstock inlays, different tuners.

    I'm fairly confident that they were all made with pressed solid-wood unbraced tops and backs. I don't think there's any reason to think any were made with carved tops. Strad-o-lins of the period were made with carved tops, and laterally braced, so they sound quite different. Of course if anyone has evidence of a carved top in this model, I'd be interested to see it.



    Quote Originally Posted by NickR View Post
    I believe the 1920s Harmony made mandolins are carved and that is the opinion of others that have worked on them- those far more qualified to give an opinion than myself! I think the later version made by Harmony was pressed not carved.
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  20. #17
    Registered User slimt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Shutt mandolins

    Click image for larger version. 

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    The one I have is the exact same as this.. the top is solid Spruce, pressed or not.. the Back and sides are Solid Flamed maple..

  21. #18
    Fingers of Concrete ccravens's Avatar
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    Default Re: Shutt mandolins

    Quote Originally Posted by slimt View Post

    the top is solid Spruce, pressed or not..
    Forgive my ignorance; can a top be both pressed AND solid, as you've implied?
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  22. #19

    Default Re: Shutt mandolins

    A top can be pressed and solid.

    Jake Wildwood has two articles on the 1920s Harmony made Supertone Viols and he maintains they are carved and he explains this in his analysis. I take his word on this form of construction and his explanation- although I am sure that the much later 1940s Playtime branded mandolins were pressed top versions. On that basis, Harmony made two versions over the years using different construction techniques.

  23. #20

    Default Re: Shutt mandolins

    Yes a solid wood top, or back, can be pressed to shape.

    I don't think Jake would get that wrong. Do you have a link to his articles on the subject, Nick?

    PS By the way, I'm not saying a pressed top is a BAD thing. It is what it is, and is responsible for the unique sound of these instruments. And probably also of the vintage Kays and some others. I think they sound very cool.
    Last edited by BradKlein; Aug-10-2018 at 5:45pm. Reason: added a PS
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  25. #21
    Registered User slimt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Shutt mandolins

    Quote Originally Posted by ccravens View Post
    Forgive my ignorance; can a top be both pressed AND solid, as you've implied?
    Yes.. Gibson did that as well for years on the Archtop Guitars.. L48 L50 L7s.. but most of the backs were Laminated pressed..

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by BradKlein View Post
    Yes a solid wood top, or back, can be pressed to shape.

    I don't think Jake would get that wrong. Do you have a link to his articles on the subject, Nick?

    You seem very Knowledgable on these.. and Thank you.

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  28. #23

    Default Re: Shutt mandolins

    Thanks for the links Nick. I agree with most everything Jake says about these, except the carved tops and backs, and it seems he didn't have the plates off of either. But he has a lot of experience with the budget instruments of this period, so I'll wait to see what he has to say at some later date.

    I've shared this video before - Sarah Jarosz sitting with Michael Daves and Friends, and playing Michael's Harmony/Shutt mandolin.



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    Last edited by BradKlein; Aug-11-2018 at 1:26pm.
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  29. #24
    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Shutt mandolins

    Original Shutts have asymmetrical points (or scrolls, depending on the model) and a label with a photo of Shutt and a serial number. This here has symmetrical points. One of the later "by Harmony" instruments, but that doesn't mean it can't be a nice axe. And heck, a '60s F5 case alone is probably worth more than 180 Canadian.

    P.S. Original Shutts are not from the '20s, they're from the teens.
    Emando.com: More than you wanted to know about electric mandolins.

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  31. #25
    Registered User slimt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Shutt mandolins

    it amazes me how many different Companies can take other builders made instruments and turn those into there own styles and names.. So I guess what I have bought is a Harmony .. have to admit.. I didnt think Harmony instruments were well built.. I think they did well on this one..

    Thanks for all the input.

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