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Thread: Howe Orme

  1. #1
    Formerly F5JOURNL Darryl Wolfe's Avatar
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    Pretty cool eh..thanks Jeff
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    Formerly F5JOURNL Darryl Wolfe's Avatar
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    next
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    Formerly F5JOURNL Darryl Wolfe's Avatar
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    Registered User Bob DeVellis's Avatar
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    Darryl - a little gem. That's a Style 1734, the second of 6 levels Howe-Orme made. What's the serial number? Looks like H-140. Also, what's the distance from nut to 12th fret? Unless that's a small chair, it looks more like a mandola than a mandolin. the mandolins are really tiny with 13" scale. The mandolas have somewhat larger bodies but only a 14 7/8 inch scale, which makes a lot of people think they're mandolins. The mandolas have more of a Martin OM body shape than the mandolins, which seems to be the case with this one, although the angle makes it hard to tell. Also, although the data aren't sufficient to determine for sure, I suspect the "H" designation in a serial number might be for mandolas. If it is a (tenor) mandola, the model number would be 1837 rather than 1737. The points on the side of the pickguard are generally associated with lower serial numbers (under 250) but there are exceptions. There's a lot of mystery surrounding these little guys.

    How does it sound? They often put out more sound than people expect from their small size and have a slight "reverb" quality that makes them sound rather distinct, like playing in an acoustically live room.

    Have fun with it. They're really great looking and distictively-toned instruments.



    Bob DeVellis

  5. #5
    Formerly F5JOURNL Darryl Wolfe's Avatar
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    I believe it's H-140..this is the one for sale in classifieds a while back..it was said to be a mandolinetta. I haven't measured the scale, but it feels like mandolin and is tuned as such
    Darryl G. Wolfe, The F5 Journal
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  6. #6
    Formerly F5JOURNL Darryl Wolfe's Avatar
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    Hi Bob,

    The body is 12" in length and 9-3/8" at the lower bout. #The nut to 12th fret dimension is right at 7", but the scale which notes correct seems to be about 14-3/16"..so somewhere right around 14+" is the scale length..go figure..what is it...I guess it's a mandolinetta #



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  7. #7
    Formerly F5JOURNL Darryl Wolfe's Avatar
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    So..are these Thomastics..I've never seen any
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  8. #8
    Registered User PlayerOf8's Avatar
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    whoa!
    I own his brother

    George

  9. #9
    Registered User Bob DeVellis's Avatar
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    Daryl:

    Actually the term "mandolinetta" or "mandolinetto" was never used by Howe-Orme but got attached to these instruments when later builders of guitar-shaped mandolins used it. On my mandola, the 11th fret is right about at 7" with the 12th just a bit under 7 1/2". But I suspect that what you have is a mandola because the mandolins seem pretty consistently to be at 13", the standard of the day. I'm not certain as rigid a mandola standard had been established when these instruments first appeared (1897). When I got my mandola, it was strung as a mandolin and, although it sounded great, I worried about that much tension and have restrung it as a mandola. Sounds nice and seems happy.

    Another variation found on Howe-Orme instruments is the fingerboard extension. On the 2 I have, it's elevated above the domed top plate. I think all of the ones I've actually seen in person have been like that. On others I've seen in pictures, the extension is flush to the top. In some cases, this is clearly the result of a repair (neck reset) and the person doing the work just not realizing what should have been done. But some other photos have a flush fingerboard extension that looks right. So, I'm not sure if the construction varied over time or if some repairers just decided to eliminate the elevated fingerboard extension when doing a neck reset.

    The elevation is pretty subtle and it can be hard to determine from straight-on photos whether the neck is flush or slightly above the top. The patent drawings clearly show a bit of the neck between the fingerboard and the top, (i.e., under the fingerboard where it leaves the neck and begins to extend over top) suggesting that the extension was raised in the original design. I'll try to add some pictures that show this.

    P.S. The image I had included earlier was incorrect. This detail is from the patent drawing for the Howe-Orme mandolins.
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    Bob DeVellis

  10. #10
    Cafe Linux Mommy danb's Avatar
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    Is the Howe in Howe-Orme "Elias Howe" the sewing machine guy?
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  11. #11
    Formerly F5JOURNL Darryl Wolfe's Avatar
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    nope
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    Registered User Tom C's Avatar
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    I do not think so from past discussions and research. Elias Howe invented the double stitch that Singer used on their sewing machines. Elias Howe got screwed and died poor. However he did receive a settlement from Singer very shortly before his death.

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    It does look like an E.H. Co. inlayed in the pickguard though...very nice!

    Keith

  14. #14
    Formerly F5JOURNL Darryl Wolfe's Avatar
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    it is Elias Howe, just not the same one

    FROM MINER SITE:
    Here’s the skinny:

    As most of us who bothered to check the encyclopedia already figured out, the famous Elias Howe who invented the sewing machine (and I have to wonder – why do so many of us musicians even know about the sewing machine thing?) is NOT the same Elias Howe of mandolinetto fame.

    The guy we’re concerned with (and by the way, the two were related - both descendants of John Howe of the 1600's - and both born in Massachusetts within a year of each other!) was born in 1820 in Framingham, MA and died in 1895 in Watertown, MA. And his father was an Elias also!

    Elias Howe, Jr. was at one time or another:

    A Farmington farmer
    A Boston fiddler
    A music store proprietor
    A prolific music publisher (including the still available Ryan's Mammoth Collection of fiddle tunes)
    A collector and dealer of vintage musical instruments (apparently the country’s largest collection at the time!)
    He didn’t invent the mandolinetto, however – this was patented by his son, Edward F. Howe. And it was patented, not as a mandolinetto, nor even as a mandolin, but as a "design for a guitar-body" with "strings arranged in pairs" (#27560). No dimensions are given.



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  15. #15
    Registered User Bob DeVellis's Avatar
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    The two Eliases were actually cousins and didn't get along. The music Elias was a friend of the U.S. Vice President, who used to send him copies of the Congressional Record. ON one occasion, they were delivered to the sewing machine Elias who refused to return them to their proper recipient. Julia Ward Howe was another member of the family and the musical Elias's in-laws were related to Oliver Wendell Holmes. Distinguished bunch of folks.
    Bob DeVellis

  16. #16

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    Hi Daryll, Im glad it arrived safely and ya seem pleased with it. I hated to let it go but its inj good hands now. Awesome little thing it is and a big sound from such a little box, especially with the "flat top.

    Bob- its the one I had and have sent ya the serial # and other info on. Are ya still collecting the data, and if so how many / much do ya have? I'd like to view it if thats somehow possible. Thanks, Jeff
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  17. #17

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    yes, those are Tomasiks lights
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  18. #18
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by (mandolooter @ Feb. 16 2005, 17:31)
    Awesome little thing it is and a big sound from such a little box, especially with the "flat top.
    "Flat top"? I thought those (and the one you have) has a cylinder top, arched longitudinally.

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    hence the "" marks... I meant non-carved. It is a cylinder topped instrument.
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  20. #20
    Registered User Bob DeVellis's Avatar
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    Jeff:

    Yeah, Gregg Miner and I are still collecting information on these, with the ball mostly in my court as Gregg pursues harp guitar projects at the moment. I've tabulated some information on the instruments we've tracked down.

    The "Style" refers to the 6 levels of trim, which have different designations for different size instruments, so are easier to refer to as 1 through 6.

    Let's see if I know how to insert this....



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  21. #21
    Formerly F5JOURNL Darryl Wolfe's Avatar
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    bobd..........so would that not make this one a Style 2 Mandola....of which "0" are listed on that attachment. I notice this instrument joins the body at the 9th fret where as THIS
    Style 4 little puppy and THIS Style 6 join at the 10th fret
    Darryl G. Wolfe, The F5 Journal
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  22. #22
    Registered User Bob DeVellis's Avatar
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    Daryll -

    As others have so often said, "sharp eye!" H-140 was listed as a mandolin because that was the owner's interpretation and we certainly didn't have definitive information to the contrary. Thus, it wasn't entered as a style 2 mandola. The only "other" example of a 9th-fret neck-to-body join we've come across is the instrument pictured below. We have it listed as having an unknown serial number and owner. But it does have the same side points as H-140 and might be the same instrument! Perhaps you or Jeff will recognize some feature that identifies it as such or rules it out. We've gathered pictures of a few dozen instruments and only this one and H-140 have necks that join the body at fret 9 instead of 10. That's the case both for mandolins and mandolas. I wonder if this instrument (or these instruments, as the case may be) have a special history that accounts both for the neck joining at the ninth fret and the "not quite a mandola but not quite a mandolin" scale length.

    Here's the image:
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  23. #23
    Formerly F5JOURNL Darryl Wolfe's Avatar
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    Thanks-you Bob...I believe that is a different piece, but it is difficult to say for sure....at minimum they are sisters
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  24. #24
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Anyone know what the relationship was between Vega and H-O (aside from their location in Boston)? Ihave a vega cylinder guitar with a top similar to the H-Os.

    Jim
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  25. #25
    Registered User Bob DeVellis's Avatar
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    Jim - I've speculated that Vega may have been the source for Howe-Orme instruments. Howe-Orme didn't seem to have the manufacturing capacity and Vega certainly did. There are also several similarities, including the inlays and neck joints. Of course, Vega was virtually a different company after 1904 when it merged with Fairbanks and David L. Day took over the stringed instrument division. So, it may be that early vs late Howe-Ormes differ in their place of origin or that multiple sources were used even at the same time. The erratic serial number "patterns" and different Howe-Orme labels hint at the possibility of different manufacturing locations. Day patented the cylinder-back in 1913 around the time that Howe-Orme was probably winding down its instrument lines. Both the H-O domed top and the Vega cylinder back were design rather than utility patents, i.e., claiming the "look" rather than function to be unique. The Vega double-dome (top and back) guitars, I believe, came along later, like in the '30s? Although Howe-Orme mandolins are starting to "get discovered," the guitars have been a hot item for a while. By all acounts they're phenominal instruments and they have an adjustable/removable neck that's way cool. I've never seen one in person, but people who have played them consistently sing their praises and several name musicians consider them among the best guitars ever built. Rick Turner has incorporated some features into his instruments and was planning on building essentially an updated version of the orignal Howe-Orme guitars.
    Bob DeVellis

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