Results 1 to 25 of 25

Thread: What Mandolin Did I Get From the Thriftstore?

  1. #1

    Default What Mandolin Did I Get From the Thriftstore?

    I found this Mandolin in the thrift store for $18. It is a bowl back mandolin that looks like a Suzuki & Co from the 70s but it doesn't have any markings on the head or in the body. It is missing a bridge and strings, and has a few scratches. I went to a local luthier and he priced me $240 just to get it running again. What do you guys think?
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

Name:	58810261145__36E13922-D1EC-49CA-9967-6A9200FE6B3F.jpg 
Views:	72 
Size:	862.9 KB 
ID:	179174   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	58810255433__E7E2777A-1713-4A55-BE30-99ADF37C790E.jpg 
Views:	78 
Size:	849.8 KB 
ID:	179175   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	58810256992__76665C6B-6D5E-4B8E-99B1-55B7EC6CCD0D.jpg 
Views:	76 
Size:	658.0 KB 
ID:	179176  

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	58810258211__513B0809-468A-474E-929A-B005BF33D0F0.jpg 
Views:	81 
Size:	865.8 KB 
ID:	179177   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	58810259687__1C932F54-724F-459C-8C84-BD19E4B8BECA.jpg 
Views:	56 
Size:	636.8 KB 
ID:	179178  

  2. #2
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    40.191N -74.2W
    Posts
    22,838

    Default Re: What Mandolin Did I Get From the Thriftstore?

    You only need to post this one time. Some of our resident bowl back experts will be along to give you some information. I don't think it's worth $240.00 even if it's set back up with the bridge and strings but YMMV.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  3. The following members say thank you to MikeEdgerton for this post:


  4. #3
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    High Peak - UK
    Posts
    2,588

    Default Re: What Mandolin Did I Get From the Thriftstore?

    Looks to me like a Suzuki from the 1970s to me as well (I thought that before I read your post)

  5. #4
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Conneaut Lake, PA
    Posts
    4,043

    Default Re: What Mandolin Did I Get From the Thriftstore?

    It’s definitely not worth putting $240 into. That exceeds the value of this instrument. What the heck is the luthier charging you $240 to do, exactly? Sounds like someone has a bill to pay this month. You can get a set of GHS extra light strings yourself, and fitting a new bridge is not a difficult job. Just make sure you buy a fixed bridge for a flat top, a pretty low one. Do not get a bridge meant for an arch top, especially adjustable, it will be way too high. You can find flat top bridges for minimal cost on fleaBay. There’s an eBay store called “Bezdez” that carries all sorts of instrument parts. Right now they have a few new old stock ebony bridges with galalith saddles for 8 dollars, they look like they would work. There are others on eBay of course. So for less than a $20 bill you could have it playing again. Measure from the nut to the 12th fret, then measure the same distance from the 12th fret to the top. This is where the bridge should go. It should end up just in front of the cant. You would have to have nut slotting files or at least needle files to slot the saddle, and you might have to sand the flat bottom of the bridge down for your desired action, and you might have to tilt the bridge a bit to get intonation right, but none of it is rocket science.

    Your Suzuki appellation is most likely correct. They didn’t always mark them. This one has that look. But really, the only way to make this financially workable is to figure out how to do the work yourself.
    Don

    2016 Weber Custom Bitterroot F
    2011 Weber Bitterroot A
    1974 Martin Style A
    Fender Octave Mandolin c.2004-2008

  6. The following members say thank you to multidon for this post:


  7. #5

    Default Re: What Mandolin Did I Get From the Thriftstore?

    I think it would make a swell festival hat!
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

Name:	IMG_0558.JPG 
Views:	97 
Size:	179.6 KB 
ID:	179187  

  8. The following members say thank you to oldwave maker for this post:


  9. #6
    Teacher, luthier
    Join Date
    Oct 2017
    Location
    Southeast Tennessee
    Posts
    1,195

    Default Re: What Mandolin Did I Get From the Thriftstore?

    $240??? For what?????
    I would be run out of town on a rail if I quoted a price like that.
    The mandolin appears to be in very good shape, and should need only minor adjustment.

    Find another repairman to fit a bridge and adjust the nut. I would be surprised if it needs much more than that.

    $85 would be about the limit for that in my part of the country, and that would be with the repairman supplying the strings and the bridge.

    Or, if you're handy with tools, pm me and I'll send you a piece of ebony if you want to carve your own bridge.

    I suppose there is an outside chance that it might need some minor fret work. But $240?? Give me a break.
    Last edited by rcc56; Aug-21-2019 at 7:04pm.

  10. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to rcc56 For This Useful Post:


  11. #7

    Default Re: What Mandolin Did I Get From the Thriftstore?

    I did think $240 was much too high. He said he charges $120 an hour, and that is way out of my price range. Would this work:


    https://www.ebay.com/itm/VINTAGE-EBO...UAAOSwRgJXkryd

  12. #8

    Default Re: What Mandolin Did I Get From the Thriftstore?

    I got some Ernie ball light mandolin strings from the local shop, will these work?
    Last edited by Carsten; Aug-21-2019 at 10:04pm.

  13. #9
    Teacher, luthier
    Join Date
    Oct 2017
    Location
    Southeast Tennessee
    Posts
    1,195

    Default Re: What Mandolin Did I Get From the Thriftstore?

    Quote Originally Posted by Carsten View Post
    1. I did think $240 was much too high. He said he charges $120 an hour, and that is way out of my price range.

    2. Would this work:


    https://www.ebay.com/itm/VINTAGE-EBO...UAAOSwRgJXkryd
    1. I have never before heard of a shop rate anywhere near that high. Find somebody else.

    2. Probably. Fitting it to the top can be difficult if you don't know what you're doing, though. If you decide to do it yourself, you are welcome to pm me and I'll give you some pointers.
    Last edited by rcc56; Aug-22-2019 at 1:21am.

  14. #10
    Teacher, luthier
    Join Date
    Oct 2017
    Location
    Southeast Tennessee
    Posts
    1,195

    Default Re: What Mandolin Did I Get From the Thriftstore?

    Quote Originally Posted by Carsten View Post
    I got some Ernie ball light mandolin strings from the local shop, will these work?
    Yes, those strings would be good, at least to start with.

  15. #11

    Default Re: What Mandolin Did I Get From the Thriftstore?

    I would look at photos of Suzuki mandolins- there are some that were sold at Reverb. Work out the type of bridge that would be suitable for your mandolin and see if one is available on ebay and do the work yourself. As these instruments have flat tops this should not prove too difficult. Obviously, cutting or adapting a nut is a bit trickier. I don't know where you are based- as you have a typical German or Danish name but in many respects that is irrelevant- getting a decent and reasonably charging repair man may be easier in some places than others. There was a man in Portugal who sold any number of mandolin bridges- I bought one- it was very good. However, he now shows just one style. It is probably not suitable but you might contact him to see if he was going to sell more types in the future. This is a listing on the UK ebay: https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Mandolin-...oAAOSwAO9ZXRUu

    Here is a Suzuki on ebay which sports a similar style of bridge. Obviously, you need a bridge that is tall enough and if too tall the base can be sanded or planed down:

    https://www.ebay.com/p/Japan-Suzuki-...102/1441496570
    Last edited by NickR; Aug-22-2019 at 4:32am.

  16. The following members say thank you to NickR for this post:


  17. #12
    Jerry Cobbs jerrycobbs's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2019
    Location
    Decatur, Alabama, USA
    Posts
    41

    Default Re: What Mandolin Did I Get From the Thriftstore?

    I would never suggest a good luthier isn't worth their money, but if you're handy at all, fitting a bridge to an $18 mandolin is hardly worth taking up their time. What a great opportunity to practice a little tech work with virtually no risk! You're doing nothing invasive, and if the thing snapped in half when you tightened the strings, worst thing you're out is the price of a good dinner and a little time. OTOH, most likely you end up with a playable mando and some valuable experience.

    I bought one of those $70 no-name mandolas on eBay with the idea of making it into a playable OM. In the end it was too cheaply made, and no amount of work would fix its issues. But in the process I learned quite a bit about setting up an instrument, and I installed a cheap pickup as well, which went smoothly and looked great. It gave me a lot of confidence that if I had to do my own setup on one of my good instruments, I could do it.
    -- Johnson MA-100 Mando
    -- Eastman MDO-305 OM
    -- 3 Seagull Merlin dulcimers (2GDG, 1DAD)
    -- 1952 Harmony Roy Smeck guitar
    -- Ortega Lizzie Ubass
    -- Leigh Campbell electric violin
    -- Pfretzschner violin
    -- Glaesel viola
    -- Ibanez acoustic/electric guitar
    -- Misc: a cello, 2 cigarbox guitars, charango, djembe, slide dulcimer.

  18. The following members say thank you to jerrycobbs for this post:


  19. #13
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Conneaut Lake, PA
    Posts
    4,043

    Default Re: What Mandolin Did I Get From the Thriftstore?

    No NOT light gauge. EXTRA light only on bowlbacks with no truss rod. GHS makes a good set.

    Does anyone know why it looks like there is a big space between the nut and the headstock overlay?
    Don

    2016 Weber Custom Bitterroot F
    2011 Weber Bitterroot A
    1974 Martin Style A
    Fender Octave Mandolin c.2004-2008

  20. The following members say thank you to multidon for this post:


  21. #14
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Victoria, Australia
    Posts
    54

    Default Re: What Mandolin Did I Get From the Thriftstore?

    Does anyone know why it looks like there is a big space between the nut and the headstock overlay?
    I think that originally this mandolin would have had a zero fret which has been replaced with a narrow nut. The bare wood between the nut and the headstock would have been where the original nut was. I tried to upload a pic of a Suzuki mandolin with a zero fret but the image was tiny and very pixelated.
    Last edited by MikeEdgerton; Aug-22-2019 at 8:07pm. Reason: Fixed quote syntax

  22. #15
    Registered User mandolinstew's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Warwick,New York
    Posts
    382

    Default Re: What Mandolin Did I Get From the Thriftstore?

    Quote Originally Posted by Carsten View Post
    I did think $240 was much too high. He said he charges $120 an hour, and that is way out of my price range. Would this work:


    https://www.ebay.com/itm/VINTAGE-EBO...UAAOSwRgJXkryd
    I just set up a classical guitar.Supplied tuners,strings,repaired a hole on the side(filler an faux finish)for $120

  23. #16

    Default Re: What Mandolin Did I Get From the Thriftstore?

    Quote Originally Posted by David Kennedy View Post
    The bare wood between the nut and the headstock would have been where the original nut was.
    A brown Sharpie would make that almost invisible......if it bothered you.....

  24. #17
    Teacher, luthier
    Join Date
    Oct 2017
    Location
    Southeast Tennessee
    Posts
    1,195

    Default Re: What Mandolin Did I Get From the Thriftstore?

    Quote Originally Posted by multidon View Post
    No NOT light gauge. EXTRA light only on bowlbacks with no truss rod. GHS makes a good set.
    The Ernie Ball #2067 "Light" set that Carsten asked about actually is an extra light set: .009, .013, .022, .034. This info comes direct from the Ernie Ball website. They call their 10-14-24-36 set "medium."

  25. The following members say thank you to rcc56 for this post:


  26. #18
    Teacher, luthier
    Join Date
    Oct 2017
    Location
    Southeast Tennessee
    Posts
    1,195

    Default Re: What Mandolin Did I Get From the Thriftstore?

    Just for perspective, I took 5 or 10 minutes and looked up some published shop rates around the country. $60 per hour is pretty common. The lowest I found was $35, and the highest was $80.

  27. #19
    Registered User Martin Jonas's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Location
    Northop, North Wales
    Posts
    6,069

    Default Re: What Mandolin Did I Get From the Thriftstore?

    I think you're all a bit harsh on this mandolin. Yes, it seems to be an unlabelled 70s Suzuki -- they were sold under a number of different names in various markets. It seems in pretty good condition and at $18 it was a steal. Indeed, it may well be worth more than $240 after setup. Of course, I agree that the work needed shouldn't cost $240, although we can't see the neck angle or the condition of the frets.

    I suspect it's the original nut, and that the bare patch of wood used to have a piece of felt glued to it, to kill the string buzz between nut and tuners. That's pretty common in bowlbacks. Dave Hynds sells replica Suzuki bridges for $15 plus shipping (from France): Link . He also provides fitting instructions by the sandpaper method (link). Another tutorial for this job is at frets.com (Link). The alternative method is chalk fitting, which is what violin luthiers tend to prefer.

    Good luck!

    Martin

  28. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to Martin Jonas For This Useful Post:


  29. #20
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    40.191N -74.2W
    Posts
    22,838

    Default Re: What Mandolin Did I Get From the Thriftstore?

    This is a list of recently sold Suzuki mandolins on eBay. Except for one outlier that I'd love to know the story on, none of them even approach $240.00 and these are labeled.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  30. #21
    Registered User Martin Jonas's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Location
    Northop, North Wales
    Posts
    6,069

    Default Re: What Mandolin Did I Get From the Thriftstore?

    Fair enough, Mike -- I haven't been keeping tab on the value of Suzukis. What I meant to say is that in good condition they are decent reliable instruments and not in the category of "pawn shop bowlback good as wallhanger".

    Martin

  31. #22
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    40.191N -74.2W
    Posts
    22,838

    Default Re: What Mandolin Did I Get From the Thriftstore?

    Agreed. If the OP can do the work himself he'll probably have a playable bowlback mandolin, assuming there are not any underlying issues we can't see, but I still wouldn't put $240.00 into it. That's all I was saying.

    Now, if it had been a beloved family members instrument that might change my mind but it wasn't. What I would be willing to spend to resurrect a family heirloom or some other instrument with emotional value would be different. I personally just spent too much money (a few hundred dollars) rebuilding a 1969 Japanese arched top guitar but I did it because I had one in High School that I wished I had retained. I can't sell it for what I have into it but I really am enjoying playing it.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  32. The following members say thank you to MikeEdgerton for this post:


  33. #23
    Registered User tonydxn's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    Mansfield UK
    Posts
    311

    Default Re: What Mandolin Did I Get From the Thriftstore?

    I don't know how it is with luthiers, but if a printer (which is what I was most of my working life) doesn't want a job, he won't tell you he doesn't want it, he'll just quote you a stupid price. If you're stupid enough to pay it, then it's worth his while to do it. I wonder if your luthier has quoted you $240 on that basis. I agree with the others - have a go at doing it yourself.
    Mandolins: Bandolim by Antonio Pereira Cabral
    German flatback by unknown maker converted from a descant Waldzither

  34. #24

    Default Re: What Mandolin Did I Get From the Thriftstore?

    I just bought the bridge off of Ebay for $8.00, thanks for all the help. I'm excited to see if this works.

  35. #25
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    Westchester, NY
    Posts
    26,340

    Default Re: What Mandolin Did I Get From the Thriftstore?

    Quote Originally Posted by multidon View Post
    Does anyone know why it looks like there is a big space between the nut and the headstock overlay?
    Quote Originally Posted by David Kennedy View Post
    I think that originally this mandolin would have had a zero fret which has been replaced with a narrow nut.
    Nope, no zero fret. There was a small piece of wood, triangular in cross-section probably to create a channel for the nut to set in. I had a similar Suzuki many years ago. A little on the dead side for sound but playable. Hopefully yours is better.

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	808_nut.jpg 
Views:	6 
Size:	24.3 KB 
ID:	179302 Click image for larger version. 

Name:	808-head.jpg 
Views:	3 
Size:	33.5 KB 
ID:	179303
    Jim

    My Stream on Soundcloud
    Facebook
    19th Century Tunes
    Playing lately:
    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

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
  •