Results 1 to 16 of 16

Thread: Restoring this mandolin? (long post, sorry)

  1. #1

    Default Restoring this mandolin? (long post, sorry)

    So last year my high school theater teacher gave me this mandolin as a gift. I found it in our schools music closet about 2 years ago, wrote it off as perhaps maybe 40s or 50s. Inside the cardboard like case were old strings in original packaging and a pick. In my senior year I started to get really into instrument repair so I sought out the mandolin. I noticed that the instrument and its case were no longer in the music closet. The choir teacher had given it to the theater teacher to be used as a prop, case, vintage strings, and pick missing. I still curse myself for not grabbing the pick, strings, and case while I could especially the pick, as the pick was either genuine TS or really early TS celluloid with a cork grip. Anyway, here's what I know about it, it is a reverse scroll mandolin made by regal for Lyon and Healy. It is a more student oriented model called the Guydyu (guide you) in reference to the inlays on the fingerboard that show you the string names. The design and patent is attributed to Frank Kordick, the president of Regal at the time. my research, and the research of others that I have read, suggests that these were made between 1914 to 1924. The back, sides, and top all appear to be birch, but nonetheless, it is 100% solid, no plywood. I have no idea what the neck species is. The fingerboard and nut appears to be maybe ebony, but more likely it is ebonized pearwood, something not uncommon on Regal instruments. The finish is french polish and it looks to me like it used to be a black to red sunburst that has faded due to uv exposure. Overall, it is a really neat instrument that I want to get restored. Here's what's wrong with it. Most glaringly, I have no idea what sort of strings was on this thing back in the day, but whatever they were the tension was way too high. The butt end of the sides have been seriously warped from string tension, and in the process, the back the sides have de-laminated near the tailpiece. Someone tried, and seriously botched, an attempt to re glue the sides (the repair smells like titebond to me when burnt, the original glue is hide), and to add insult to injury, they used c clamps instead of spool clamps and didn't use a clamping caul. I think we can guess by now that the previous owner was not a luthier. Another issue caused by string tension is that this mandolin, which is supposed to be an archtop, has serious top warpage where the bridge was being pushed down by heavy strings. As a result of the inward bellying, the brace that sits roughly underneath the bridge has completely separated from the top, not a loose brace, but completely separated, rattling around inside the body. The finish isn't in good condition either, it is suffering extreme flaking. The fingerboard is cracked, and the fret ends are sticking out a bit. I have a feeling that this instrument was victim of serious humidity and moisture abuse. The tuners work ok, not great, they bind a little and it might be prudent to replace them, the celluloid buttons don't look like they're going to rot any time soon though. the neck binding is ivoroid, when I got the instrument, I noticed that some of the neck binding on the treble side was coming loose, so I got some fish glue and a very fine brush, and very gently lifted up the loose section of binding so I could get get the glue in. Almost immediately as I lifted the loose binding and before I even got the glue to the binding channel, more than half of the neck binding just popped loose, same story on the bass side. I chose to remove the binding on the neck because it was clear to me that the original glue on the binding just wasn't strong or stable anymore. funnily enough, the binding glue on the butt end of the fingerboard is perfectly fine. The ivoroid binding, like the tuner buttons, appears to be very stable, still flexible, and no signs of rot. The body binding, however, isn't doing so well. It has crumbled in various spots and is brittle, and replacement celluloid binding should be considered. There is a hole on the back of the peghead where someone put in an eye screw to be used as a strap button. On the neck, there is a small chip in the wood out of the binding channel that needs to be re glued. The break is clean and I still have the piece of wood. Sorry for the long post, here are pictures. Anyone have an idea of the value of this thing? I have looked on ebay, reverb, etc, and they seem few and far between.
    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	IMG_5477[1].jpg 
Views:	148 
Size:	805.0 KB 
ID:	161795
    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	IMG_5478[1].jpg 
Views:	71 
Size:	367.7 KB 
ID:	161796
    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	IMG_5479[1].jpg 
Views:	63 
Size:	514.8 KB 
ID:	161797
    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	IMG_5496[1].jpg 
Views:	67 
Size:	444.6 KB 
ID:	161798
    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	IMG_5485[1].jpg 
Views:	55 
Size:	583.6 KB 
ID:	161799
    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	IMG_5486[1].jpg 
Views:	72 
Size:	324.3 KB 
ID:	161800
    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	IMG_5502[1].jpg 
Views:	63 
Size:	539.6 KB 
ID:	161801
    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	IMG_5494[1].jpg 
Views:	50 
Size:	586.5 KB 
ID:	161802

  2. #2
    I may be old but I'm ugly billhay4's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    University Place, WA (with no university and very little place)
    Posts
    4,074

    Default Re: Restoring this mandolin? (long post, sorry)

    Small value, lots of learning potential.
    Bill
    IM(NS)HO

  3. #3

    Default Re: Restoring this mandolin? (long post, sorry)

    I see what you mean but this instrument at least 90 years old, and I don't feel confident in restoring it myself. I know of a guy here in Milwaukee who specializes in vintage repairs and restorations, I wanna see what he thinks of it. I am also acquaintances with another master luthier here (coincidentally he apprenticed under the guy I mentioned earlier) who helped me build my first guitar. Perhaps he can walk me through my first restoration too.

  4. #4
    wood butcher Spruce's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    Orcas Island, Washington
    Posts
    6,172

    Default Re: Restoring this mandolin? (long post, sorry)

    I love instruments that look like someone played the hell out of them, and this one fits into this category...
    Those look like pretty easy and intuitive repairs, so have at it...
    I think it's really cool!

  5. #5
    Confused... or?
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Over the Hudson & thru the woods from NYC
    Posts
    2,360

    Default Re: Restoring this mandolin? (long post, sorry)

    Quote Originally Posted by Marn99 View Post
    ... student oriented model called the Guydyu (guide you) in reference to the inlays on the fingerboard that show you the string names.
    Hmmm... The depiction thereof on the label shows a 9th-fret marker, the normal location for a mandolin, as carrying the notes that are actually at the 10th fret where, fortunately, such fret marker is actually located, per a later photo. 10th would be the normal location for a guitar fret marker, so at least it's accurate if not necessarily traditional!
    - Ed

    "What our group lacks in musicianship is offset by our willingness to humiliate ourselves." - David Hochman

  6. #6
    I may be old but I'm ugly billhay4's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    University Place, WA (with no university and very little place)
    Posts
    4,074

    Default Re: Restoring this mandolin? (long post, sorry)

    I don't think it's worth enough to worry about in regard to the quality of your restoration. And, on the other side, I don't think there is anything that can be done to this instrument that will make it worth much.
    Have at it; you may come up with a nice sounding instrument.
    Bill
    IM(NS)HO

  7. #7
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Chicagoland
    Posts
    651

    Default Re: Restoring this mandolin? (long post, sorry)

    Quote Originally Posted by Marn99 View Post
    Most glaringly, I have no idea what sort of strings was on this thing back in the day,
    Me neither, but once it's fixed up I would strongly suggest GHS phosphor bronze ultra lights (09/13/20/32).

  8. #8
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    40.1646 N, 74.2083 W
    Posts
    23,344

    Default Re: Restoring this mandolin? (long post, sorry)

    Regal didn't just make these for L&H, they made them for everybody. They were sold with no label and with dozens of other labels. Frank Kordick patented the design. Here's the patent:

    https://www.google.com/patents/USD46366?

    These are really pretty common instruments.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  9. #9
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    40.1646 N, 74.2083 W
    Posts
    23,344

    Default Re: Restoring this mandolin? (long post, sorry)

    Here's one that recently sold. Here is another. Both of these sold for less than what is listed in the auction as they accepted an offer for less.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  10. #10
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Brooklyn, NY, USA
    Posts
    900

    Default Re: Restoring this mandolin? (long post, sorry)

    If you have built a guitar, even with help, you are up for restoring this one. It will be a cool project.

  11. #11
    Registered User wildpikr's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    Louisiana, USA
    Posts
    673

    Default Re: Restoring this mandolin? (long post, sorry)

    Picture number 3 shown by the OP indicates C G D A between two of the frets...could it be a mandola?
    Mike

    Those who think they should think, like they think others think they should think, need to think out their thinking, I think.

    No envejecemos, maduramos. -Pablo Picasso

  12. #12
    wood butcher Spruce's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    Orcas Island, Washington
    Posts
    6,172

    Default Re: Restoring this mandolin? (long post, sorry)

    Quote Originally Posted by wildpikr View Post
    Picture number 3 shown by the OP indicates C G D A between two of the frets...could it be a mandola?
    Good one! I missed that...
    This thing is looking better and better by the minute...

  13. #13
    Registered User jefflester's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Location
    California
    Posts
    2,270

    Default Re: Restoring this mandolin? (long post, sorry)

    Quote Originally Posted by wildpikr View Post
    Picture number 3 shown by the OP indicates C G D A between two of the frets...could it be a mandola?
    That's at the 5th fret. The notes are also labelled at the 10th fret - F C G D. And it's not as easy to see, but above the nut the strings are also labelled G D A E, blow up the first photo to see more detail. The paper label inside (2nd photo) points out these labels, though Ed pointed out the label incorrectly shows the 9th fret labelled when it is actually the 10th fret.

  14. The following members say thank you to jefflester for this post:

    JL277z 

  15. #14

    Default Re: Restoring this mandolin? (long post, sorry)

    Quote Originally Posted by jesserules View Post
    Me neither, but once it's fixed up I would strongly suggest GHS phosphor bronze ultra lights (09/13/20/32).
    Do you reckon this thing was made for gut or very light strings? It was made at around the same time that steel strings were introduced, so it doesn't surprise me that someone strung it very heavily and deformed the top.

  16. #15

    Default Re: Restoring this mandolin? (long post, sorry)

    Thanks for the responses everyone! Should we fix the flaking shellac or steam the back off to get at the fallen off brace first?

  17. #16
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    Westchester, NY
    Posts
    26,902

    Default Re: Restoring this mandolin? (long post, sorry)

    Quote Originally Posted by Marn99 View Post
    Do you reckon this thing was made for gut or very light strings? It was made at around the same time that steel strings were introduced, so it doesn't surprise me that someone strung it very heavily and deformed the top.
    No American mandolin would have been made for gut strings. These were never delicate flowers. Ultralight strings might even be too light and not necessary. It should be able to take light gauge for sure and possibly even J-74s. I believe that the scale length would be around 13".

    Most likely the reason this is a basket case was that it was stored in an attic for many years.

    These are really flattop instruments so whatever arch the top had would be slight and induced by the brace.
    Jim

    My Stream on Soundcloud
    Facebook
    19th Century Tunes
    Playing lately:
    2018 Campanella A-5 -- 2007 Brentrup A4C -- 1915 Frank Merwin Ashley violin -- Huss & Dalton DS -- 1923 Gibson A2 black snakehead -- '83 Flatiron A5-2 -- 1939 Gibson L-00 -- 1936 Epiphone Deluxe -- 1928 Gibson L-5 -- ca. 1890s Fairbanks Senator Banjo -- ca. 1923 Vega Style M tenor banjo -- ca. 1920 Weymann Style 25 Mandolin-Banjo -- National RM-1

  18. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to Jim Garber For This Useful Post:


Tags for this Thread

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •