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Thread: Bowlbacks of Note

  1. #51
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    I believe you're right, Jim. For a while it was uncritical MAS, but my eye has developed far in excess of my credit limit.

    Go, Eugene! There are plenty more where these came from. Remember the rallying cry of the obsessive consumer - nothing exceeds like excess!

    If I change my handle from Bob A to "XS", will you know what I mean?

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  3. #53
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    I have the high bid at the moment but I doubt it will stay any where near to my high. Prob go over $1000 for this lower end Vinaccia with lots of work needed.

    Jim



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    Yeah, that's a hurting puppy. Looks like a job for TC. Figure a year or two; doubtless it'll prove to have been worth the wait, should you survive so long.

    I'm getting to be a large fan of maple bowlbacks. I'd have thought to chase it if I didn't already have a Vinnie ready to leave the shop (in rosewood, but who's complaining?). and if I thought I could stand the wait. So no competition from me, at least. Good luck, Jim.

  5. #55

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    Hail! The Bowlman Cometh!

    Live long and pick, my friend!
    It is not man who lives, but his work. (Ioannis Kapodistrias)

  6. #56
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    Look out MAS strikes again!
    I've just picked up an Angara and D'Isanto (Allievi di Vinaccia)in a junk shop for 20 quid (thats about 38 USD I suppose. Its in pretty good nick except no nut, no bridge, one ivory (or bone?) end pin missing, and a little bit of the fruitwood/walnut trim around the side missing. Otherwise neck is straight, top hasn't distorted and it has the other Vinaccia type appointments - little finial, two ebony and pearl dots either side of the bridge, pearl volute (?) on the back of the neck.
    That brings my total to 12 which is more than anyone needs. At what point should I start selling? any thoughts?
    Marc Woodward
    www.belmando.com

  7. #57
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by (Marc @ May 13 2004, 02:50)
    That brings my total to 12 which is more than anyone needs. At what point should I start selling? any thoughts?
    You didn't say if the 12 are just bowlbacks or mandolins in general. I think the point to start selling is when you walk into a room and everytwhere you look, a mandolin stares at you in the face. I am way beyond that point. I am at the point where I have broken mandolins everywhere, some with small things and some that need major restoration.

    If I were sensible, I would stop buying and put that money into repairs.

    However, 20 quid for a Vinaccia clone... sounds like a bargain to me...

    Jim



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  8. #58

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    I suppose it all boils down to one's intentions... Trouble is, those deeply hidden sparks of psychic energy are too darn well hidden to discern at times.

    If, A. one is a speculator, given some funds to begin #with and a keen eye for quality, one could reasonably justify amassing, oh, 100-odd quality, vintage instruments with an eye on future resale at a profit; the question remaining: Whether the needed, #current-account cost of restoration would cause such forward-looking, hypothetical profits #to simply evaporate.

    If, B. one collects for the sheer pleasure of having beautiful things around him/herself, well, who can argue against THAT? Life has enough ugly corners on its underbelly; some compensation is in fact needed, for medicinal reasons— same as I apply to regular consumption of good wine.

    If, however, C. one buys for the pleasure of buying itself, I would draw the line there and warn of a serious problem. This is not unlike the compulsive buying of clothes, electronic gizmos, etc. and all those things generally accepted as more "reasonable" purhases than, oh, mandolins. *scornful grimace*

    I firmly believe that Bob's case goes under scenario "B"; I also think that the vast majority of us are somewhere there, too— at least I HOPE we are not slipping into the most unsalutary "C" scenario... #



    It is not man who lives, but his work. (Ioannis Kapodistrias)

  9. #59
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Actually, Victor, I buy these for the most part to play. A beautiful mandolin that has no sound has little interest to me. Yes there is visual beauty as well -- why else would I go for a style 6 Martin -- but primarily I have divested myself of the instruments that don't work as tools of musical expression.

    On the other hand I have been the owner of a few instruments that sounded great but looked horrific to my eye. Many years ago I purchased my first Gibson out a wall of As at mandolin Bros. which turned out to be a whitefaced A3, not because i wanted a white mandolin but in spite of the looks: it was the best sounding one on the wall.

    Jim
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  10. #60

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    Understood, Jim. When I spoke of surrounding oneself with beautiful things, I did mean both beautiful-looking AND beautiful-sounding. Once again, I was unclear.
    It is not man who lives, but his work. (Ioannis Kapodistrias)

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    Well, gentle readers, I'm thinking there might be another category or sub-
    into which I could fall. Much of my problem, if I would so describe having an excess of good things, comes from curiosity. I got into accumulating Italian instruments in order to have the opportunity to examine and experience the similarities and differences between them, and between Italian as a group and the US instruments I had.

    I have a fair selection of mandolins and guitars (which guitars I seldom play these days) but there are only a few which fall into congruent groups. E.g. a '68 Gibson dreadnaught and a '43 J45. I keep them bothe because of sentimental reasons - the '68 was my first decent instrument.

    It's the same with the mandolins. Each has a different sound, or style, or something to set it off from its mates. (Currently I have two bowlbacks which are more similar than different: a Mozzani and a Monzino. The Mozzani needs some repairs, so I'm saved from having to make a deaccession decision for the nonce; sadly I am charmed by both of them for reasons of eye appeal as well as aural qualities, so it may never come to a separation).

    The sad fact, which we as a group are doing our best to remedy, is that there exists little ground for easy comparison of these instruments on these shores. So a representative selection is at hand, for that purpose. Whether it will be broadly used or remain the whim of a solitary collector is unclear, but at least the potential exists at this time.

    There's also the Mandolin Rescue league, of which I am a member. And the movement to pass onto the future the cream of the past, which is also a noble thought, possibly engendered by a spirit of grandiosity hiding the simpler acquisitive motives. We are nothing if not altogether too clever at concealing ourselves from ourselves.

    Of course, when I become too deaf and arthritic to enjoy them, those that are not in the hands of the descendants will be sold, doubtless for a tidy profit. Collection and dispersion are the faces of a particular coin.
    One can hope it is not minted from fool's gold.

    How many is too many? Hard to say, and dependant on individual circumstances. I'm probably approaching some kind of limit, however asymptotically. But if I have access to funds, and something really interesting pops up, I'll doubtless be tempted. (In what has been a very expensive couple of weeks for me - thru no fault of my own, I'd hasten to say - I found the opportunity to score a baglama for about $75. Which of you would have hesitated on that?)

  12. #62
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    Quote Originally Posted by (Bob A @ May 13 2004, 11:40)
    How many is too many?
    There is a cyber-friend of mine and a few others on this board who has accumulated over 400 bowlbacks of all sorts. His name will go unmentioned at this moment, howver, but I do think he sees the humor in it all.

    Jim



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    And to think I had my tongue in cheek when I made a comment on another thread about 300 ouds!

    Reality trumps fantasy often enough for the difference to be meaningless.

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    Hmm, I believe I'm a combination of 'beautiful things' and 'mandolin rescue league'. Of my twelve (which compared to 400 or so seems sadly lacking - I must buy more...) I have to admit that several are hardly ever played but remain for other reasons: eg my first mandolin; an interesting but ultimately crappy Bohmann; a yet to be repaired aluminium Merrill. The instruments that get played are my trusty old F2, my Vega Pettine and my F5 copy.
    But all my instruments are different and have differing qualities that appeal. I suppose I wouldn't buy something again that I already had - unless..(insert plausible justification to self).
    Marc
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    That is an eclectic little stable Marc. Popular legend has it that Bohmann was North America's first mandolin maker.

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    I know. Have you seen there are several Bohmann mandos on ebay at present - looks like someone is unloading part of a collection - although it seems they've been stripped of vital organs. What's going on there?
    Marc

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    Quote Originally Posted by (Marc @ May 13 2004, 02:50)
    I've just picked up an Angara and D'Isanto (Allievi di #Vinaccia)in a junk shop for 20 quid (thats about 38 USD I suppose.
    Marc: When can we see pics of this one on our bowlback pic site.?
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  18. #68
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    Quote Originally Posted by (Marc @ May 14 2004, 16:09)
    I know. Have you seen there are several Bohmann mandos on ebay at present - looks like someone is unloading part of a collection - although it seems they've been stripped of vital organs. What's going on there?
    Marc
    I know -- I asked the seller if he had any parts and he said no. Whre do they all go, those parts?

    Jim
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    I need to get to grips with how to load digital pics up to the site, but when I do I'll post pictures of the D'Isanto instrument and also my Raffaele Valente roman mandolin which is very pretty - fluted flamey maple ribs etc.
    just need a few more hours in the day...
    Marc

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    Folks, there's a Vega Lansing Special on ebay - currently at 100, sale is over in 7 hrs. (Not lansing, Mich - it's an artist model. Lansing was apparently well-known enough to get his own model, not like poor Grisman).

    If it's anywhere near as good as the Pettine Special (doubtful, but who knows?) it's a steal.

    Also a Martin style 6a is going away in 8 hrs; no reserve, minimum bid 800, so far no takers. We've seen this one hereabouts.

    Somebody is gonna get a good mandolin for cheap soon. Why not you?

    (I'm not personally involved in either of these, either as owner or bidder. But if I didn't have the Pettine I'd chase the Vega. There's one for sale by a dealer for $900, I think, though it's had no nibbles for a year).

  21. #71
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    Quote Originally Posted by (Bob A @ May 16 2004, 17:18)
    Also a Martin style 6a is going away in 8 hrs; no reserve, minimum bid 800, so far no takers. We've seen this one hereabouts.
    I think this one it Peter Klima's. It looks like the same repaired top crack and same creasing on the pickguard. Yes, it would be a bargain at that price.

    Jim
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    Oops. Martin auction ends tomorrow afternoon.

  23. #73
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    My Ceccherini has just arrived and my first impressions, about an hour after opening the box, are:

    1) It's a really beautiful, delicate-looking mandolin in very good condition. Understated, tasteful decoration, which I much prefer to the over-ornate all-over MOP style of decoration. I think Alex and Victor may be right that the top may have been slightly sanded and waxed at some stage, but it doesn't seem recent. The back was probably revarnished as well, but nicely done and again not recent. The top is very dark, much the same colour as the bowl.

    2) Two visible repairs (other than the possible refinishing), both very minor: a 2cm strip of the original wood binding has been replaced with an insert and one of the G tuner posts has been soldered where string tension has torn out the hole (and the soldered bit itself is frayed again, so this may need redoing).

    3) The neck is straight, but I think the neck angle has moved slightly forward with very minor varnish cracking at the joint. When I got the mandolin, the strings were much too heavy gauge (steelwound, looks like the same gauge as J74s), but I gather that they were only put on a few weeks ago, when the seller took them to a music shop in preparation for the auction, and the mandolin wasn't played with these strings. I have now taken the tension off (which I had asked the seller to do, but he didn't do). The cracking around the neck joint doesn't look recent, so hopefully the seller didn't do any harm in the brief period with the heavy strings.

    4) Presumably because of the neck angle coming forward a bit, the action is rather high. Not fully unplayable, but uncomfortable. I have just measured it, and it's between 3.5mm and 4mm at the 12th fret, which surprises me, as it looks higher. I would estimate that I can lower the action to around 2mm (12th fret) by lowering the brass insert in the bridge (either having a new insert made or filing off the existing one) and that should make it playable without a neck reset. I don't think that shimming the fingerboard is an option; it's very thin indeed.

    5) All hardware looks original. Rosewood bridge with brass insert, brass nut with integral zero fret (as described by Victor; it's a very snazzy design that looks so intuitively right that I'm amazed no modern luthiers have taken it up), ivory tuner knobs, nickel (?) bar frets with only some minor wear on the first position frets (maybe refretted at some stage?). Ebony fretboard, tortoiseshell pickguard with silver and MOP inlays.

    6) No visible cracks, no sign of top sinking (in fact it's slight arched upwards), no rattles or loose braces.

    7) Unlike Victor's Ceccherini, this is a single top model, which (as Victor suggested) may explain why it has a de Meglioesque bar to hold the strings down, not the metal hooks seen elsewhere. It's not clear to me whether this one is single top because it was a cheaper mandolin originally or whether it was built before Ceccherini invented the double top. There's no year of construction on the label and no serial number, just the remark "Premiata all'Esposizione di Milano, 1881" which presumably means it must have been built after 1881.

    8) It may have spent some time hanging on the wall somewhere, as there are two small holes (one at the side of the neck next to the eighth fret, one to the left of the tailpiece) which may be where somebody screwed hooks in to hang it up.

    9) I can't evaluate the sound yet, as I took the tension off the inappropriate strings right when I got it. I just briefly plucked them first, and it was loud and resonant, so I'm on tenterhooks for when I get the Lenzners I've ordered and the lowered brass saddle and can properly hear the character.

    On the whole, I think this was a fine buy and I'm crossing my fingers that it'll be stable and playable with the right strings and saddle. Photos to come soon; in the meantime there's still the Ebay entry.

    Martin

  24. #74

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    Yeah, that's my Martin up for sale. I just haven't mentioned it on the board to avoid "buy my stuff" type posts. Figure I'll never be able to get anything for it in Europe so I might as well see if I can sell it and buy an Italian mando. I'm also vastly reducing my instrument collection - my tenor banjo and troll cittern are already gone.
    Peter Klima (not the hockey player)

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    Peter:
    Don't be afraid to mention it to us. One of the nice things is that we keep the beloved instruments in the "family." It always gave me great joy to sell or give my instruments to friends and visit with them in later years.

    If your Martin is anything like Eugene's which I tried in NY last fall, it is a honey and certainly reasonably priced.

    Jim
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