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Thread: Is this a mandolin? Does it have any value?

  1. #1

    Default Is this a mandolin? Does it have any value?

    Hello,

    I picked up a mandolin at an estate sale but have not been able to find out anything about it, outside of one other post I found on this site. I thought it was worth another try at a post, so here goes.

    MG Contreras appears on the label, but this is a luthier that focuses on guitars, and hasn't made a mandolin "in at least 30 years" (according to another post I found on this forum, and me following up with the shop via Facebook). My first question: is this in fact a mandolin? Any ideas on what type of wood it is?

    My local guitar shop also noted that the action is super high and that the neck likely needs to be reset, which is a $300-400 cost. I don't really want to spend that much if it's not worth that much to start with, but I would like to "fix it up" and make it playable.

    Can anyone confirm that this is a mandolin, what type of wood does it appear to be, and perhaps estimate a value on it?

    Thanks so much!

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  2. #2
    Registered User jefflester's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is this a mandolin? Does it have any value?

    Presumably this is the previous post you mention (good to include the reference):
    https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/s...ntreras-mando&

  3. #3
    Registered User JH Murray's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is this a mandolin? Does it have any value?

    Yes, it is a mandolin. The value of the instrument is probably much less than the estimate of a neck reset.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Is this a mandolin? Does it have any value?

    Maybe you can sand the bridge down to get the action to a playable level. I wouldn't spend the money resetting the neck on it

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    Default Re: Is this a mandolin? Does it have any value?

    +1 on taking the bridge down. It doesn't need to be tall, and you should not have heavy stings on this if that is what is on. 10-36 I think at the most. It will play easier with light strings. Then get an idea of what you need to do.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

  6. #6
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is this a mandolin? Does it have any value?

    If it was in great shape you might be able to get $40 to $50.00 for it and that's a big maybe.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Is this a mandolin? Does it have any value?

    Thanks jefflester for including the link to the other post, and thanks everyone else for the responses. I'll look to see if I can take the bridge down and put some light strings on it. I was hoping it would be worth more than the $100 I paid for it, but c'est la vie. Thanks again for the responses, really appreciate it!

  8. #8
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is this a mandolin? Does it have any value?

    I've purchased instruments for more that were worth much less. Most of us probably have. Good luck with it.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  9. #9
    Teacher, luthier
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    Default Re: Is this a mandolin? Does it have any value?

    The Contreras shop has been making classical guitars of the highest quality for over 50 years. Although I have never before heard of a Contreras mandolin, this is NOT a cheap instrument and is worthy of being correctly repaired by a competent and experienced luthier.

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  11. #10
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is this a mandolin? Does it have any value?

    Old thread on Contreras mandolin. (November 2011)

    Note the following quote from dave nance: I actually did contact Contreras and yesterday I got a response! They said (1) all the mandolins (and also bandurrias and laudes) they ever sold were made for them in outside factories, as they never built anything in their shop except for guitars; (2) the mandolin I ran across must be at least 25 years old, because it has been at least that long since they even stocked mandolins in their shop at all. They couldn't say much more about mine except that if it has mahogany sides and back it would be a student-grade model whereas if it has rosewood sides and back (mine does) it should be a better quality model.

    So, according to this source anyway, the "Contreras" label doesn't guarantee the level of work-person-ship associated with Contreras guitars.
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  13. #11
    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is this a mandolin? Does it have any value?

    Quote Originally Posted by allenhopkins View Post

    They said (1) all the mandolins (and also bandurrias and laudes) they ever sold were made for them in outside factories, as they never built anything in their shop except for guitars; (2) the mandolin I ran across must be at least 25 years old, because it has been at least that long since they even stocked mandolins in their shop at all.
    .....

    So, according to this source anyway, the "Contreras" label doesn't guarantee the level of work-person-ship associated with Contreras guitars.
    Still, a good mando tech may make this instrument work. Uh, maybe....

    Think about it - what workshops did they buy from 25 year ago. Plus the wood is at least 25 years old.

    And it depends on the finances, as usual.

  14. #12
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is this a mandolin? Does it have any value?

    Quote Originally Posted by rcc56 View Post
    The Contreras shop has been making classical guitars of the highest quality for over 50 years. Although I have never before heard of a Contreras mandolin, this is NOT a cheap instrument and is worthy of being correctly repaired by a competent and experienced luthier.
    Believe me, mandolins that are well made fail to sell daily on the real world markets. Spending 400.00 to repair a mandolin that you might be able to sell for less than you paid for it might make sense in ones mind but in real life you're still in the hole.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  15. #13
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    Default Re: Is this a mandolin? Does it have any value?

    While Contreras has made more than one grade of instrument, they have never been known for putting their name on junk.

    Did you buy the mandolin to play it or to make a buck on it? <Removed by Moderator. Please limit commerce to the classifieds>.
    Last edited by MikeEdgerton; Oct-27-2017 at 9:39pm.

  16. #14
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is this a mandolin? Does it have any value?

    A Google search using Contreras Mandolin as a search term turns up one reference besides the one you're posting in. This one. It's also linked to above. I get it that they make great guitars. That doesn't mean you'll get top dollar for a mandolin that by their own admission (read the thread) they didn't actually build. You might be the one person that really wants that mandolin and perhaps the OP would be willing to sell it. It's just not going to take place on our message boards.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  17. #15
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is this a mandolin? Does it have any value?

    Quote Originally Posted by mgee View Post
    ...I was hoping it would be worth more than the $100 I paid for it, but c'est la vie....
    Apparently it might be to at least one person out there.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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    Default Re: Is this a mandolin? Does it have any value?

    Quote Originally Posted by rcc56 View Post
    The Contreras shop has been making classical guitars of the highest quality for over 50 years. Although I have never before heard of a Contreras mandolin, this is NOT a cheap instrument and is worthy of being correctly repaired by a competent and experienced luthier.
    In the 60's, I am pretty sure Contreras also put their name on some decent but not great factory guitars. They may have done the same thing with mandolins.

  19. #17
    Registered User tonydxn's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is this a mandolin? Does it have any value?

    The woods used look like laminated. To me that's a polite way of saying 'plywood' though some people reckon there is a difference. Look through the sound hole at the grain pattern on the back and compare with the grain on the outside. If it's solid wood, they should match. It's hard to see in the photos, but it looks different to me - Indian rosewood on the inside, something else (looks a bit like bubinga) on the outside. To check the soundboard, look at the edge of the wood round the soundhole. If it's laminated you will be able to see the layers with grain going in different directions.

    If you want to lower the action, look at the nut end too - you may be able to lower it there. Rob Meldrum's set-up manual contains useful information. You can find that here.

    Not worth spending $300-400 on it. If you've got that kind of money, you can buy a much better instrument.

  20. #18

    Default Re: Is this a mandolin? Does it have any value?

    My 2 cents on the wood; Looks like solid rosewood back and sides and western red cedar top. I'm assuming sold as its unusual to have solid back and sides and laminate top. You can tell for sure by looking at the cross section of the top at the sound hole. if you can see the lines of the grain run from top to bottom, it's solid.
    Mahogany neck.
    You can stuff up an instruments sound easily messing around with the action. If you do get it changed, get a professional to do it.

  21. #19
    mandolin slinger Steve Ostrander's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is this a mandolin? Does it have any value?

    Perhaps you could re-set the neck yourself and save some $$.
    Never say "bouzouki" to a TSA agent...

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