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Thread: Looking for information on this mandolin I inhereted.

  1. #1

    Default Looking for information on this mandolin I inhereted.

    Hi there. I inhereted a mandolin from my great grandfather and I was hoping to get some information about it. The sticker had long since fallen off and from what my great grandmother says it predates their marriage putting it earlier than 1935. The only marking is a 3 etched in the headstock.

    Any help would be appreciated!
    Thanks!

    http://i.imgur.com/Uxzdn6W.jpg
    http://i.imgur.com/tzNGjQ4.jpg
    http://i.imgur.com/d3OdkhE.jpg
    http://i.imgur.com/63JDhcE.jpg

  2. #2
    Loarcutus of MandoBorg DataNick's Avatar
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    Default Re: Looking for information on this mandolin I inhereted.

    Not too familiar with bowlbacks, but from what I've read here on the Cafe, it's kinda hit & miss on old ones being worth a good deal of money. Good luck with it!
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  3. #3
    Registered User jmp's Avatar
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    Default Re: Looking for information on this mandolin I inhereted.

    I would hazard to say that where old bowlbacks are concerned it is alot more "miss" than "hit" for them to be worth much money.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Looking for information on this mandolin I inhereted.

    Looks like US-made mandolin. The tailpiece is the same as on my Chicago made no-name bowlback. I am not an expert on US-made ones, though. Someone, I am sure will shed more light soon.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Looking for information on this mandolin I inhereted.

    Looks like a family heirloom to me.
    I hope that you treasure it as such.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Looking for information on this mandolin I inhereted.

    Quote Originally Posted by Joseph Baker View Post
    Looks like a family heirloom to me.
    I hope that you treasure it as such.
    I do and will. I never intend to sell it, I just want to tune it up and restring it so I can get the joy in playing it that I'm sure my great grandfather felt.

  7. #7
    Capt. E Capt. E's Avatar
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    Default Re: Looking for information on this mandolin I inhereted.

    Make sure you check the top braces that they are not loose and in need of re-gluing. Give it a gentle cleaning, no oil or furniture polish. The tuners may need to be lubricated and buffed up. Looks pretty solid otherwise. The biggest issue might be a bowed neck causing it to have excessive relief.
    Use extra-light strings.
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  8. #8
    Registered User pfox14's Avatar
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    Default Re: Looking for information on this mandolin I inhereted.

    The peghead shape looks like some Regal bowl-backs I've seen, but without a brand name or label, there's no way to be sure.
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  9. #9

    Default Re: Looking for information on this mandolin I inhereted.

    I am going to repeat Capt. E and suggest EXTRA LIGHT strings for it. Anything heavier could wreak havoc with it.
    Bill Snyder

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Looking for information on this mandolin I inhereted.

    Looks like the top has shrunk and is pulling away from the sides of the bowl. If this is the case, it is on the very brink of total disaster.

    If it is your intention to actually get this instrument into playing condition, you would be well advised to find someone who can actually do a near total restoration. Dave Hynds in the UK comes to mind. It's possible, even probable, that this would cost more than the instrument is worth, but I understand the family heirloom issues, and the emotional connection. You will have spent several hundreds of dollars to restore to usable condition a mandolin that in real terms would be worth a small fraction of the expense.

    It's not my decision to make. Whatever you decide, bear in mind that finding a repairperson qualified to work on bowlbacks is difficult in the US, where they are under-appreciated and not understood. I'd send some pictures to Mr Hynds and see what he has to say, and go forward from there.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Looking for information on this mandolin I inhereted.

    Your mandolin is most likely pre 1920, it looks to be American made. Many builders used that headstock shape. The inlay was fairly common for many makers. Most of the large builders including Lyon & Healy, Regal, Harmony, etc. made instruments "For the trade". They didn't have labels so the retailer or teacher could glue in their own labels if they desired. I wouldn't string that up, there's a good chance it will destroy what's left. Without some major work that would be much more than the monetary value of the instrument that could become a pile of kindling. It's what is commonly referred to as a wall hanger.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  12. #12
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Looking for information on this mandolin I inhereted.

    Can't place it; the pickguard shape's throwing me. Bay State and Oscar Schmidt mandolins sometimes had model numbers stamped into the back of the headstock, but not where your "3" is stamped. Plus, they also had the company name stamped into the wood.

    Concur that it looks US-made. Also concur that you should get it thoroughly evaluated by a shop that knows something about mandolins, before making any move to string it and tune it. Looks like the top's separating from the sides, and you'll get serious damage if you put string tension on it, if that's the case.
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  13. #13

    Default Re: Looking for information on this mandolin I inhereted.

    Thanks for the advice! Yes, that's correct. For some reason my grandparents opted to use it as wall decor and it fell off of the wall causing some separation. I have no intention of doing the work myself, I want to send it to a restoration expert. Value to cost ratio isn't as relevant to me since it is an heirloom. I relaxed the strings that are on it a little bit to try to reduce tension on the body but that's the extent to which I am comfortable touching it myself.

  14. #14

    Default Re: Looking for information on this mandolin I inhereted.

    Thanks to everyone for help and advice so far. I understand it might not be salvageable and that's something I've accepted. I still plan to bring it to a restoration expert and get their take on if it is able to be salvaged.

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