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Thread: Found this old mando in a bookstore

  1. #1

    Question Found this old mando in a bookstore

    I found this old mandolin in a bookstore for $50. It has no markings inside or out. It seems to be of a shorter scale (similar to my VS Big Muddy). It does have an odd tailpiece. It has some repaired seams (recent, per seller...they sent it to a luthier) and needs a binding repair (luthier said he couldn't repair it). It plays and sounds great. I am wondering if a binding repair is worth it (or can even be done) or if I should just keep it as a beater/travel mando and save my money. Thanks for your input! Also, any idea who made it? Is it from a kit? It plays great all the way up the fingerboard and it sounds great. At least worth the $50 paid for it for someone with my skill level.
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  3. #2
    Some Ability - No Talent MikeZito's Avatar
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    Default Re: Found this old mando in a bookstore

    If it 'plays and sounds great', and you only paid $50 for it - I see no reason to think that that (if you think it is necessary) you couldn't spend an additional few bucks to have the binding fixed. Nice find!

  4. #3
    Registered User bennyb's Avatar
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    Default Re: Found this old mando in a bookstore

    I'm no expert, Missy, but the double dots on the 13th fret is irregular. Still, looks like worth $50.

    benny

  5. #4

    Default Re: Found this old mando in a bookstore

    Quote Originally Posted by bennyb View Post
    I'm no expert, Missy, but the double dots on the 13th fret is irregular. Still, looks like worth $50.

    benny
    See, you all notice things I don't! I come from a classical violinist background so I never notice or pay attention to the fret markers. They are indeed on the 13th fret. Math was hard for somebody that day.

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    Default Re: Found this old mando in a bookstore

    Looks like a newer case - that alone would be worth $50 (presuming the mando came with the case and you didn't provide it!)

  7. #6

    Default Re: Found this old mando in a bookstore

    Yes, it came with the case. It's dusty on the outside, but in great shape other than that.

  8. #7
    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Found this old mando in a bookstore

    Very interesting. I don't think it is a kit: a kit would have the 12th fret marker in the right place, and the back and sides don't look like they came from a kit.

    Is the top arched smoothly, or is there a bit of a raised dome in the middle of the top? One of the photos looks like there might be such a dome.

    The cut of the headstock and the end of the fretboard are both nonstandard and look like signature touches from someone who had at least some inkling of what they were up to.

    Can anybody place the tuners? They look 1980s-ish to me but I don't know the maker.
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  9. #8

    Default Re: Found this old mando in a bookstore

    There is a raised dome in the middle of the top.

  10. #9
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Found this old mando in a bookstore

    I think we have seen a mandolin like this before but I have no idea how to find it.

    I would have bought it for $50.00.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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    Default Re: Found this old mando in a bookstore

    Despite the 13/16th fret marker issue, it looks like a real bargain. Decent arch, nice volute, looks like the maker had some inkling of what he was doing. Tuner buttons look a little cheesy, but as long as they work, who cares?

    I need no more mandolins in my life, but I too would have plunked down fifty bucks for it. Good score.

  12. #11

    Default Re: Found this old mando in a bookstore

    Here is a pic of under the fretboard, nicely done. This may also show the arch more as well.Click image for larger version. 

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  13. #12

    Default Re: Found this old mando in a bookstore

    Here is the tailpiece and cover...
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  14. #13
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    Default Re: Found this old mando in a bookstore

    The 13th fret markers would drive me mad! But for $50, so what.

    Looks to me like it was built by a tallented amateur. Not sure if the tailpiece is original or a replacement - unscrewing it will probably tell you - but it looks to me that the “lone” screw has slightly separated the back of the mandolin from the sides - is that an unbound plywood back I can see?

    I would have thought that running some glue in the crack, clamping it up and fitting a new tailpiece would solve the problem.

  15. #14
    Registered User Cary Fagan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Found this old mando in a bookstore

    It also looks like a decent amateur build to me, which makes it an especially good find. I assume the tailpiece was taken off an old bowlback or flat top mandolin from the 1910s-20s. Am I right that the sides (and maybe back) look like mahogany?
    Cary Fagan

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    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Found this old mando in a bookstore

    The tailpiece was probably new when it was built. They were still available a few years ago. I thought that back was a piece of Luan plywood but it has an arch.

    Maybe someone cut the back off and replaced it. That would explain the fact that the tailpiece screw is on that joint and there's no binding.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  17. #16
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Found this old mando in a bookstore

    I've seen that called a "kidney" tailpiece on the Cafe. I have 19-'teens Stahl (Larson Bros.) mandola with one, and Bernunzio says it's "original." I also had one on a B&J Victoria bowl-back -- probably Lyon & Healy make -- until a kind Cafe person traded me for a marked "Victoria" one.
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    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Found this old mando in a bookstore

    Quote Originally Posted by allenhopkins View Post
    I've seen that called a "kidney" tailpiece on the Cafe. I have 19-'teens Stahl (Larson Bros.) mandola with one, and Bernunzio says it's "original." I also had one on a B&J Victoria bowl-back -- probably Lyon & Healy make -- until a kind Cafe person traded me for a marked "Victoria" one.
    It was a standard tailpiece cover that fit on a Waverly base like the cloud. They made them for decades. Look at the pictures of the tailpiece base in this thread.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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  20. #18

    Default Re: Found this old mando in a bookstore

    The older tailpieces have a slightly different more elaborate shape in terms of the end that is on the rear of the mandolin. This one looks like one from the 1960s when Kay was still using this style.

  21. #19

    Default Re: Found this old mando in a bookstore

    Looks nice! Especially for the price paid. Enjoy!

  22. #20
    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Found this old mando in a bookstore

    Breedlove used a kidney bean tailpiece when they began making mandolins.You might still be able to get those somewhere.
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    Smile Re: old mandolin

    I found, the TP cover of that style is easy on your forearm ..

    Laminated pressed arch back, Mahogany, reminds me of the Gibson A40, also unbound
    but for the edge of the spruce top..





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  25. #22
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    Default Re: old mandolin

    This is almost certainly a kit from Stewart McDonald. I bought and made one around 1980 and still have it. Looks identical to mine in all ways. Same tailpiece and bridge and all the wood looks the same. Back is ply mahogany - I assume pressed to shape.

    I believe it was up to the builder to install the fretboard marker inlay so I guess some ended up on the 13th fret on this one...

    Jim
    Last edited by jimy22; Aug-04-2019 at 7:07pm.

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    Default Re: old mandolin

    So I snapped a pic of my mandolin and then a couple pages from the assembly instructions. I was 15 when I put it together. Made a brass truss rod cover and the strap was from an old purse of my moms...
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    Registered User bennyb's Avatar
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    Default Re: Found this old mando in a bookstore

    One of those rare occasions, when the mystery is actually solved. Thanks for including the evidence.

    benny

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  30. #25

    Default Re: Found this old mando in a bookstore

    A few years ago I had a StewMac Eagle banjo that somebody had built. Great sound!

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