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Thread: I am a Stradolin convert!

  1. #1
    Registered User nmiller's Avatar
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    Default I am a Stradolin convert!

    In the guitar world, there are a lot of inexperienced players who claim that because their Squier is a perfectly good instrument, there's no reason for anybody ever to spend more than $500 on a guitar. Consequently, when I see people hyping very cheap instruments, my first reaction is to be wary. As of today, though, when I see folks waxing rhapsodic about their Stradolins, I'm on board.

    I bought this really just because it was very clean and $300. I wasn't convinced that it would be any better than the usual old Harmony or Kay product. As soon as I put some tension on the strings, though, I realized that it was an exceptional instrument for the price. The tone isn't as sweet as my F-2, but it's every bit as loud. While it's not going to give a '20s F-5 a run for its money, the sound is still balanced and pleasant. It's not shrill or tubby, the balance across the strings is great, and the sustain is quite good as well. In fact, I think this sounds better than the pressed-top off-brand Gibsons from the same period. The worst thing I can say is that it needs some grommets behind the bridge to limit the ringing; considering I also say that about my Larson Brothers mandola, it's hardly a deal-breaker.

    This particular mandolin is stamped Oct 4, 1935 on the inside of the back. The top and back are all solid and pressed into shape. Everything looks original, untouched and undamaged except for a few small dings around the edges. The neck is as straight as you'll ever find on an 80-year old mandolin, truss rod or not, with a nice chunky profile.

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    www.OldFrets.com: the obscure side of vintage instruments.

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: I am a Stradolin convert!

    Looks great! That's a really nice find.
    Marc

  4. #3
    NY Naturalist BradKlein's Avatar
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    Default Re: I am a Stradolin convert!

    Looks great! Is the bracing a single lateral brace south of the ff holes? A note that this is very different than 99% of straddling which locate the bridge AND the lateral brace at the south end of the ff holes - whereas yours has the bridge closer to the traditional position, near the center of the ff holes.

    Quote Originally Posted by nmiller View Post
    In fact, I think this sounds better than the pressed-top off-brand Gibsons from the same period.
    I don't think that the Gibson company made any pressed top instruments in the 1930s - And I would imagine that your Strad is a carved top instrument as well. Crudely and quickly carved, but carved, not pressed.
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    Registered User nmiller's Avatar
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    Default Re: I am a Stradolin convert!

    Quote Originally Posted by BradKlein View Post
    Looks great! Is the bracing a single lateral brace south of the ff holes? A note that this is very different than 99% of straddling which locate the bridge AND the lateral brace at the south end of the ff holes - whereas yours has the bridge closer to the traditional position, near the center of the ff holes.

    I don't think that the Gibson company made any pressed top instruments in the 1930s - And I would imagine that your Strad is a carved top instrument as well. Crudely and quickly carved, but carved, not pressed.
    There are actually three braces: a big one south of the f-holes, one under the bridge, and another one north of the f-holes. I was surprised to see that, since I have seen pics of Stradolin tops that only had the one big brace as you described.

    The top is definitely pressed/arched, not carved, like most of the Gibson-made Kalamazoo and Cromwell models.
    www.OldFrets.com: the obscure side of vintage instruments.

  6. #5
    NY Naturalist BradKlein's Avatar
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    Default Re: I am a Stradolin convert!

    Three braces! I've seen two on that style, and HERE is an older thread with detailed photos showing the pressed top and carved back of a similar model Stradolin.

    I checked my notes on a similar stradolin that I worked on, and that one was pressed top and carved back. I reversed them in my memory.
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    Registered User Bill Snyder's Avatar
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    Default Re: I am a Stradolin convert!

    Why does your Stradolin have a Weyman badge on the headstock? Weyman was a brand of its own.
    Bill Snyder

  8. #7
    Registered User nmiller's Avatar
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    Default Re: I am a Stradolin convert!

    Weymann discontinued manufacturing in the early '30s but kept their retail store open in Philadelphia. I've seen at least one other Weymann-branded Stradolin mando, and their late '30s guitars were built by Harmony.
    www.OldFrets.com: the obscure side of vintage instruments.

  9. #8

    Default Re: I am a Stradolin convert!

    Quote Originally Posted by nmiller View Post
    Weymann discontinued manufacturing in the early '30s but kept their retail store open in Philadelphia. I've seen at least one other Weymann-branded Stradolin mando, and their late '30s guitars were built by Harmony.
    I also had a Weymann labeled Kay-made guitar from the 50's.

  10. #9
    Registered User Joey Anchors's Avatar
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    Default Re: I am a Stradolin convert!

    I love it!
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  11. #10
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: I am a Stradolin convert!

    I think Jim Garber has this same model. Somebody here has one.

    This thread has some info. This appears to be an Artist Deluxe model.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  12. #11
    Registered User Randi Gormley's Avatar
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    Default Re: I am a Stradolin convert!

    very pretty - I prefer my blond model, but i'm a huge fan of the brand. My strad was my gigging mandolin for years until I couldn't play it any more (neck too wide for my arthritis-affected hand). if you have a good one, you have a good one indeed!
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  13. #12
    its a very very long song Jim's Avatar
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    Default Re: I am a Stradolin convert!

    My 42ish Strad o Lin is my favorite in my stable. It's very even in volume across the strings and has a beautiful bell like tone. It lacks the volume of a longer scale instrument , but can hold it's own in a jam with guitar. Fiddle or Banjo will bury it though. Recorded it is the sweetest sounding Mandolin I've ever had the pleasure to play.
    Last edited by Jim; Aug-29-2017 at 1:00pm. Reason: Spelling
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  14. #13
    music with whales Jim Nollman's Avatar
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    Default Re: I am a Stradolin convert!

    A rare find. I think this is the same one I was fretting over recently, but finally passed on it only because I am really seeking an F5 for taking on trips and not worrying about it getting stolen. Given the wood selection of this stradolin, plus the fit and finish, I had concluded that if this instrument had the Gibson name on it, it would probably be considered a bargain at $2500.
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    Registered User Strabo's Avatar
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    Default Re: I am a Stradolin convert!

    My Stradolin is an Orpheum -- I think it was build in the 1930s, but of course no one knows for sure. It has quite a few little dings, but I consider them to be signs of a long and fulfilling life. Wonderful instrument.

  17. #15
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: I am a Stradolin convert!

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeEdgerton View Post
    I think Jim Garber has this same model. Somebody here has one.

    This thread has some info. This appears to be an Artist Deluxe model.
    I do have that same Weymann model tho mine is in pieces and would cost a good bit of money to put back together. I still might do that one day.
    Jim

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  18. #16

    Default Re: I am a Stradolin convert!

    Quote Originally Posted by BradKlein View Post
    Looks great! Is the bracing a single lateral brace south of the ff holes? A note that this is very different than 99% of straddling which locate the bridge AND the lateral brace at the south end of the ff holes - whereas yours has the bridge closer to the traditional position, near the center of the ff holes.



    I don't think that the Gibson company made any pressed top instruments in the 1930s - And I would imagine that your Strad is a carved top instrument as well. Crudely and quickly carved, but carved, not pressed.
    The Gibsons lines such as Kalamazoo, Cromwell, etc - both mandolin and archtop guitars - were all pressed and NOT carved. I am pretty sure my Stradolin from the 40's is pressed as well but I have seen one that sure looked carved.

    I think yours is a higher end model and I have noticed that those are the best Strads and can really be nice instruments. I have been looking for one for awhile so I think you did great for that price and condition.

    I do have to speak up for the Kalamazoo mando's as I think mine have more tone and cut than my Strad and other Strads I have heard. They certainly can hold their own with fiddle and banjo in a way that the Strad doesn't seem to... but like I said, yours is a higher quality model and probably sounds great in it's own way!

  19. #17
    Registered User nmiller's Avatar
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    Default Re: I am a Stradolin convert!

    Quote Originally Posted by GMeyer View Post
    The Gibsons lines such as Kalamazoo, Cromwell, etc - both mandolin and archtop guitars - were all pressed and NOT carved.
    Most were pressed, but a few of the off-brand Gibsons had carved tops including a few Cromwell and Recording King models.
    www.OldFrets.com: the obscure side of vintage instruments.

  20. #18
    NY Naturalist BradKlein's Avatar
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    Default Re: I am a Stradolin convert!

    GMeyer - see post #5 (you quoted #3) which includes a useful link.
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  21. #19
    Registered User OrphanBoy's Avatar
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    Default Re: I am a Stradolin convert!

    I have a Weymann, Stradolin, dated Jan, 1942. I too used it as my go-to instrument, over 1920 Gibson A3, and 1979 Kentucky M-800.

    Dollar for dollar the best that I own.

  22. #20
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: I am a Stradolin convert!

    Can I mention my favorite Strad-O-Lin picker, Paul Prestopino -- who took his touring behind Peter, Paul & Mary, Tom Paxton, and a bunch of other well-known acts?

    Here's Paul in his usual pastel bib overalls, mismatched sox, etc., playing Roll On Buddy with Roger Sprung and others, celebrating a reunion of the old bluegrass gang in NYCity's Washington Square:


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