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Thread: Need help identifying bowlback

  1. #1

    Question Need help identifying bowlback

    Hi! I just purchased this bowlback and both my husband and I have searched on the web quite a long time and we can't find one like it. The guy who sold it on marketplace said he bought it from an estate sale and a local music shop told him it is from the 50s, I'm not very sure about that. We have also looked inside with a mirror and flashlight and there is only a tiny bit of writing that doesn't make any sense and part of it is missing. I even tried looking for a similar case in case that would hold a clue but with no luck.

    Thank you for your help (You have already helped me as I am going to get the strings changed to ultra light, which I learned from reading here, because I am pretty certain the ones he had put on it are not)


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  2. #2
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Need help identifying bowlback

    Probably made in Chicago. Lyon & Healy is one good guess. I have seen others with similar features and pickguard is similar in shape to their line of Washburn mandolins. Looks like it is in decent shape. L&H sold lots of bowlbacks to stores and they often had no identifying labels or other marks. Other larger companies did the same.
    Jim

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  3. #3
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Need help identifying bowlback

    It's much earlier than the 50's. Maybe 30 to 40 years before the 50's.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  4. #4
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Need help identifying bowlback

    Mike is correct. Most likely from the teens of the last century. That seems to be the height of mandolin craze for bowlbacks.
    Jim

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  5. #5

    Default Re: Need help identifying bowlback

    Thank you so much for your help! I was thinking Lyon & Healy as well based on my research so I looked it up one more time and I think I found it!

    https://www.ebay.com/i/153595068250?...26pg%3D2385738

    It is American Conservatory and I guess it came up in the search results because I read that label was apparently a brand name used by Lyon & Healy. I think that ebay one looks like a good deal maybe (seller is rather vague)? Mine seems to be in better shape but maybe the ebay one would clean up. I got mine for $80, which I consider great because I just wanted a mandolin and it is nice to play.

    Thanks again!

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Need help identifying bowlback

    If you got yours for $80 and it is playable, you got a SUPER deal! Congratulations!

  7. #7

    Default Re: Need help identifying bowlback

    Thank you! It is very playable! I thought I did, he was asking 100 and I asked him to take 80 and couldn't believe he said yes. He told us he flips auction stuff for a living in our rural area so he seemed quite satisfied with his margin lol.

  8. #8
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Need help identifying bowlback

    Unfortunately bowlbacks, with few exceptions, don't bring huge amounts when sold but there were a ton of them made and if you have one that didn't need work to be playable then it's a great way to go. Many bowlbacks go unsold weekly on eBay. Many have real issues that are never going to be worth fixing. Just play it an enjoy it.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  9. #9
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Need help identifying bowlback

    That is a good bowlback and you got that for a reasonable price. My very first mandolin was an American Conservatory. That actually was the midrange line for Lyon & Healy but were as well made and the Washburns (higher level). If it doesn't need work you did great.

    I don't know what strings you have on it but the ones I love in terms of tone on a bowlback are these. A little on the pricey side but they are worth it IMHO. Dogal Calace RW92b Dolce..
    Jim

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    1923 Gibson A2 black snakehead -- '83 Flatiron A5-2 -- Brentrup A4C -- 1915 Frank Merwin Ashley violin -- Huss & Dalton DS -- 1939 Gibson L-00 -- 1936 Epiphone Deluxe -- 1928 Gibson L-5 -- 1937 Gibson L-Century -- ca. 1890s Fairbanks Senator Banjo -- ca. 1923 Vega Style M tenor banjo -- ca. 1920 Weymann Style 25 Mandolin-Banjo -- National RM-1

  10. #10

    Default Re: Need help identifying bowlback

    Thank you for your feedback Mike & Jim! And thank you for letting me know about the strings Jim, I will get some of those, I appreciate it

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