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Thread: Info Request: Highland Bowl Back Mandolin

  1. #1

    Default Info Request: Highland Bowl Back Mandolin

    Hello All - I recently found a beautiful bowl back mandolin that someone had left out on the curb with a "free" sticker on it. I know nothing about mandolins, but to my amateur eye it looked like a beautiful piece. With a rain storm coming on, I decided to take it home and research it. I can't find any information on this brand, or figure out how old it is, so I figured I'd ask your community. Click image for larger version. 

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    Any and all information would be greatly appreciated!

  2. #2
    Confused... or?
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    Default Re: Info Request: Highland Bowl Back Mandolin

    First impression (from a non-expert): relatively recent, moderate-quality, in nice condition. Tuners resemble Yahama guitars', so maybe '70s or '80s Japanese import? (Highland is not a well-known name).

    Helpful photos would be any label on the inside, a side view showing height of strings above fretboard, plus any bow/bending of the neck. How high are the strings above the 1st and 12th frets?
    - Ed

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  3. #3

    Default Re: Info Request: Highland Bowl Back Mandolin

    Thanks Ed - I looked in the inside and could not find any labels, serial numbers etc.

    I'm at work but I'll try to post some pictures of the fretboard tonight when I get home.

    I had a couple friends who are knowledgeable about guitars take a look and say the neck looked fine, but guitar knowledge only gets me so far.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Info Request: Highland Bowl Back Mandolin

    Someone asked about an Octave Mandolin by the same company here back in 2013:

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/t...ctave-Mandolin


    There was a luthier operating under the name Highland Strings - now Harshbarger Strings and another outfit called the Highland Guitar Company but I don't think either of them are related to these mandolins.
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  5. #5

    Default Re: Info Request: Highland Bowl Back Mandolin

    Thanks Mike. I did come across the luthier Harshbarger Strings in my research, but his works seem highly coveted so I assumed this was not one of his pieces. Maybe the manufacturer of this mandolin was trying to trade on the good will of Highland Strings? (I think this was the previous name used by Harshbarger).

  6. #6
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Info Request: Highland Bowl Back Mandolin

    Most likely the manufacturer of that mandolin did not know of either companies using the same name and simply labeled the instrument the way it was ordered. If one was to look long enough you might find dozens of them with different names on them. It was most likely made for export. How it ended up on the curb would probably be interesting. I'd take it for 70's to 80's but it could be a little earlier or later. It's not much older than that.

    It looks like they may have copied some features from the Suzuki mandolins of the era.

    https://www.google.com/search?q=vint...#imgrc=_&vet=1
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Info Request: Highland Bowl Back Mandolin

    Wow yea those Suzuki mandolins are nearly identical!

    So I think its safe to say this mandolin is more of a donation to a youth music program rather than something a serious mandolinist should have.

    Thanks everybody!

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  9. #8
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Info Request: Highland Bowl Back Mandolin

    Here's an mag-pickup electric with the same headstock logo. Discussion on guitar forums (fora?) seems to indicate Chinese origin for Highland electrics; bowl-back looks more Japanese, but I dunno.

    Asian-made, distributed out of Canada by Power Group Inc.; guitar sites note similarity to Jay Tarser and other widely distributed Chinese lines.
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  10. #9
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Info Request: Highland Bowl Back Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeEdgerton View Post
    It looks like they may have copied some features from the Suzuki mandolins of the era.
    I am aligned with Mike's assessment. Lots of Suzuki-looking mandolins from 1970s with those features and imported under a number of brand names. It looks good enough to play on, so have fun. Eevn if it is a bowlback you don't have to put extra light strings on it. In fact I would say that regular light gauge would be fine these are usually overbuilt.
    Jim

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  12. #10
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    Default Re: Info Request: Highland Bowl Back Mandolin

    70s Suzuki was also my first reaction when I saw it.

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