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Thread: Lyon & Healy Style C

  1. #1
    Registered User Hendrik Ahrend's Avatar
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    Default Lyon & Healy Style C

    Although I'm basically a bluegrasser, I'm mando geek enough that I coudn't keep myself from acquiring a L & H Style C a few weeks ago. (Traded it in for an RB3 - banjo.) The mandolin should be from around 1921, as the serial-# is 972, and it's (still) a long scale. The back is a one-piece, and the sound is quite lovely, but there is a slight bow in the neck and a need for refretting. Also, the pick guard is missing.

    The tuners are arrow-end Waverlys with plain yellowish/white knobs (no ivoroid); the string posts are quite short and small in diameter (thus quite different from the Gibson style Waverlys). Tuners seem original, as there are no suspicious traces under the tuner plates.
    Has any of you ever encountered such tuners on a L & H?

    Also, did those L & H "own make" mandolins (Styles A, B, C) originally come with an end pin? There is a black plastic pin installed, but it seems a bit alien to the mandolin.
    Got a few pics here; enjoy!

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    Registered User William Smith's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lyon & Healy Style C

    Hey buddy, I had a violin scroll L&H A from around the same time, Had a mini Loar style case, the endpin was ebony with a pearl dot on mine and looked original, your tuners may be the same as the period banjolins as they have the short post. Nice find!

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  5. #3
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    Default Re: Lyon & Healy Style C

    Congratulations! These are mandolins of very high quality.

    I have seen several variations of the style C mandolins. These were the longest-lived L & H carved top mandolins. I believe that they were made from 1917 through sometime in the 1930's. At some point the model name was changed from "Style C" to "Aristocrat."

    I have seen three different peghead designs and at least 3 or 4 different style tuners on these instruments. I recall a very late model that had very plain tuners. I have seen them with Lyon & Healy, Washburn, and Ditson labels. The one piece back with deep flame is unusual on a style C.

    I do not recall seeing one with a factory installed endpin.

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    Registered User William Smith's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lyon & Healy Style C

    My A two point with violin scroll was like about mint, very nice mandolin had the metal knee pull out metal stick "can't think of the correct name" Leg rest? It was an exceptional mandolin down to the sound, build, the case, mine had a one piece back also, very flamed maple. I just can't get used to that type of sound after owning and playing vintage F-5 styles? Mine of course had enclosed tuners with the vulcanized overlay and guard. It made some guy very happy.

  8. #5

    Default Re: Lyon & Healy Style C

    Those tuners certainly corroborate an early 1920s date and I can see that some later Phillips screws have found their way on it to hold the tuners plates. I bought a set of those Waverly tuners- as on your mandolin. Indeed, they do have narrower- 3/16 inch (from memory) posts- not the 1/4 inch diameter as used on an A2, The posts are shorter although that is irrelevant if they are not wide enough! I am going to have to get eight posts for them and hope that machining is not necessary as well- it might be. Great mandolin, and I am not surprised you acquired it.

  9. #6
    Registered User William Smith's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lyon & Healy Style C

    You can convert those posts for sure as I've done it on some of those exact Waverly arrowhead sets made for the early 20's banjolin's. It works well with no machining, just an easy swap out.

  10. #7
    Registered User Hendrik Ahrend's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lyon & Healy Style C

    Quote Originally Posted by NickR View Post
    Those tuners certainly corroborate an early 1920s date and I can see that some later Phillips screws have found their way on it to hold the tuners plates. I bought a set of those Waverly tuners- as on your mandolin. Indeed, they do have narrower- 3/16 inch (from memory) posts- not the 1/4 inch diameter as used on an A2, The posts are shorter although that is irrelevant if they are not wide enough! I am going to have to get eight posts for them and hope that machining is not necessary as well- it might be. Great mandolin, and I am not surprised you acquired it.
    Thanks a lot, Nick.
    As you say, the posts are 3/16''. However 1/4'' would be too large, kinda modern. The holes in the hs are 7/32'' +, and the tuners of my '23 F4 and F5 are both 7/32''. Those would fit. So Bill may be quite right about those Waverlys being from some banjolin. Just took the tuners off. And indeed, I found traces of something else.
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    There is a round imprint visible at the plate end towards the nut; enlarged:
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    Seems like the original tuners were like those in the 1921 catalogue:Click image for larger version. 

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    Now, what brand are those? I'd guess Waverly also, as the hole spacing about fits. Hm, may as well go and search for a set of those original style tuners.

    Thanks you all, for your input and help,
    Hendrik

  11. #8
    Registered User Hendrik Ahrend's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lyon & Healy Style C

    Quote Originally Posted by William Smith View Post
    You can convert those posts for sure as I've done it on some of those exact Waverly arrowhead sets made for the early 20's banjolin's. It works well with no machining, just an easy swap out.
    Thanks Bill, for the hint. Got any of such tuners left?

  12. #9
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    Default Re: Lyon & Healy Style C

    I have one or two arrowhead banjolin sets left-like yours but haven't converted them yet, I had probably close to 12-15 sets I gave my Uncle for his Loar F-5 replica tuner plan he had/has going? On your L&H the original should be bump end/round type that looks like the post Loar worm over gear tuners? I'll look but don't believe I have what you need for your L&H?

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  14. #10

    Default Re: Lyon & Healy Style C

    That would explain the Phillips screws- somebody has swapped out the original tuners and used those crosshead screws. I have found some photos of that sort of tuner- they are at this Reverb sale down below. I would assume they are by Waverly but I may be wrong- there were a number of Waverly styles during this era and this would be a new one, to me. I am hoping that William Smith is right about the posts- I am sure he is. I am working on the basis that my expert made a complete exhaust unit for a V8 Ford- there is nothing he cannot make, so if there is drilling or machining, he will be approached! He has made me a little punch to knock out the gears and I have done some reconnaissance but I need eight posts and they are proving elusive at a price I am prepared to pay! I have paid too much for the wrong tuners, already- they were off a banjolin! Here is that Reverb listing showing the tuners: https://reverb.com/item/10656373-lyo...in-project-550

  15. #11
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    Default Re: Lyon & Healy Style C

    Hey NickR-I just looked at the L&H on reverb, the tuners that are on it are the later worm over gear, and the ones that should be on it are also shown in the same add as worm under gear, Henry's L&H should be the earlier worm under gear based on his serial# correct.
    Yes the arrowhead banjolin tuners are nice as there were so many of those made in that era that have those tuners, I've found the gears are like new so on the ones I've done just switch out the posts ad you should be good, maybe on some you have to drill the hole in the plate but I haven't had that trouble with the ones I've done?

  16. #12

    Default Re: Lyon & Healy Style C

    Yes, I noticed they were worm over and wondered about that. I think you are right about having to drill the hole in the plate- that was my impression. If that has to be done, then it will be done by the man that does it right every time- and that is not me, I am afraid! I showed him my tenor guitar- with the Waverly "Tune Rite" tuners with the metal buttons that crumble. I had put on two big plastic buttons that were over size and filed them down to the asymmetrical shape- and painted them silver. He wondered why I had not cast a mould and melted down some old die cast toy car and made new metal buttons. I know the answer to that- a complete lack of skill on my part! There's no point me doing a job he will do a zillion times better!

  17. #13
    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lyon & Healy Style C

    Don't believe the endpin is original. I've never seen an L&H with an endpin.

    Hubert's book has dates for the 3 different headstock styles if you're interested.

    A while back a very interesting Style A/5280 came to light, with a sunburst finish and a mid-'30s Regal label. I saw it at Dusty Strings and posted a thread about it, and a local collector now has it. So I don't know for sure that the Style C outlasted the Style A. (But for certain they both outlasted the Style B, the mandola and the mandocello.) I read somewhere that any C's and A's after 1928 were probably glued up and finished from pieces that were already sitting around, but I don't know if that is true.
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  19. #14
    Registered User Hendrik Ahrend's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lyon & Healy Style C

    Quote Originally Posted by NickR View Post
    That would explain the Phillips screws- somebody has swapped out the original tuners and used those crosshead screws. I have found some photos of that sort of tuner- they are at this Reverb sale down below. I would assume they are by Waverly but I may be wrong- there were a number of Waverly styles during this era and this would be a new one, to me. I am hoping that William Smith is right about the posts- I am sure he is. I am working on the basis that my expert made a complete exhaust unit for a V8 Ford- there is nothing he cannot make, so if there is drilling or machining, he will be approached! He has made me a little punch to knock out the gears and I have done some reconnaissance but I need eight posts and they are proving elusive at a price I am prepared to pay! I have paid too much for the wrong tuners, already- they were off a banjolin! Here is that Reverb listing showing the tuners: https://reverb.com/item/10656373-lyo...in-project-550
    Thanks for the link, Nick. Those should be the right tuners for my L & H, no doubt - at least on the picture with the worm under. Bill's right, of course.

  20. #15
    Registered User Hendrik Ahrend's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lyon & Healy Style C

    Quote Originally Posted by NickR View Post
    Yes, I noticed they were worm over and wondered about that. I think you are right about having to drill the hole in the plate- that was my impression. If that has to be done, then it will be done by the man that does it right every time- and that is not me, I am afraid! I showed him my tenor guitar- with the Waverly "Tune Rite" tuners with the metal buttons that crumble. I had put on two big plastic buttons that were over size and filed them down to the asymmetrical shape- and painted them silver. He wondered why I had not cast a mould and melted down some old die cast toy car and made new metal buttons. I know the answer to that- a complete lack of skill on my part! There's no point me doing a job he will do a zillion times better!
    Amazing friend you have. What's the price for his hour? I may hire him for my pipe organ workshop; German lessons included.

  21. #16
    Registered User Hendrik Ahrend's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lyon & Healy Style C

    Another question: Does any of you know, if the fingerboards on those L & H mandolins were curved originally?

  22. #17

    Default Re: Lyon & Healy Style C

    Hendrik, he charges for the job and when I consider how long it must have taken- and the skill involved, I know I am not being charged the going rate- he is incredibly good to me. In that respect I am extremely lucky and consider myself so. He has dug me out of some very deep holes!

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    Default Re: Lyon & Healy Style C

    Looking at my L&H, I don't see how an endpin could be installed without a course of JimG's "reptile dentistry" - there's no room, with the L&H tailpiece.

    Congrats on the purchase; IMO these are some of the finest mandolins made, and thankfully seriously undervalued in the marketplace.

    BTW, I seriously despise endpins; basically a "splitting wedge" waiting for a whack to destroy your endblock, or to pop your strap off at the worst possible moment.

  24. #19
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    Default Re: Lyon & Healy Style C

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob A View Post
    Looking at my L&H, I don't see how an endpin could be installed without a course of JimG's "reptile dentistry" - there's no room, with the L&H tailpiece.

    Congrats on the purchase; IMO these are some of the finest mandolins made, and thankfully seriously undervalued in the marketplace.

    BTW, I seriously despise endpins; basically a "splitting wedge" waiting for a whack to destroy your endblock, or to pop your strap off at the worst possible moment.
    I never had a problem with an end pin and strap on my F5. And I'd never let the mandolin hang by the strap alone without at least one hand on.

    As to my L & H, it wasn't a "real" wedged-in end pin, but a screw-on. (Sorry about the confusion, my bad.) I feel the same about end pins on L & Hs; they just don't belong there. After I removed the pin, I'm afraid I will have to find a proper one-slot-round-head screw now.

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    Default Re: Lyon & Healy Style C

    I just looked at some photos of my A L&H I had and there was no endpin! I must've thought there was? The board looks flat to me, I don't remember as I didn't have it long enough! Long enough to decide I'd never play it.

  26. #21
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    Default Re: Lyon & Healy Style C

    Please allow for reviving this thread. I just got my L&H Style C back from a friend who refretted it and levelled the finger board. Looks like the finger board is a replacement, as there is no sign of former bar frets.
    I treated the mandolin a new nut and a new pick guard from vulcanized fibre, both self made. I also installed a set of vintage tuners of a style that L&H did use on style C mandolins around 1921 (as shown in a catalogue). The fellow who installed those banjolin tuners (s. post #7 &c.) messed up the original string post spacing, so I had to plug and redrill.
    I just strung her up with TI heavy strings and really love the sound.

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  28. #22
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    Default Re: Lyon & Healy Style C

    Your fingerboard is likely original. Gently radiused boards are common on carved Lyon and Healy's.

    I don't know where the idea comes from that L & H used bar frets on their carved models. I have refretted half a dozen or more of them, ranging in serial numbers from 30 or 40 up to the high 2000's, and every one had factory original T frets. The only L & H mandolins I have seen with bar frets were bowl backs.

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  30. #23
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    Default Re: Lyon & Healy Style C

    Thanks rcc, good to read that. In fact, there are no other traces of a fb change.

  31. #24
    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lyon & Healy Style C

    I took a Style B in for a refret and was told by the luthier that it had bar frets. For a while I made the mistake of assuming that all carved L&H instruments had bar frets.
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    Default Re: Lyon & Healy Style C

    Every one I have worked on had T frets. I suppose a few dozen of the earliest ones might have been shipped with bar frets.

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