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Thread: Gelas mandolin family at Bernunzio's

  1. #1
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Gelas mandolin family at Bernunzio's

    OK, am I shilling for John Bernunzio, one of our local vintage dealers? Definitely not, although there's a super-graphic on one of his store windows, depicting me brandishing a Polk-A-Lay-Lee "surfer uke."

    Received his weekly newsletter today, and it announced "an amazing collection of Lucien Gelas instruments" he had just obtained, with pic of Gelas mandolin, mandola, mandocello, guitar, and mando-bass. Don't seem to be up on his website as yet, but should there be someone out there, rich and afflicted with MAS, who hankers after a complete Gelas mandolin family -- plus a guitar -- apparently John's got 'em.

    This was unusual enough to warrant a "heads up" to the vintage crowd, IMHO. Apologies for appearing to be a Bernunzio sales-person, which I'm not, but it's fun to live in a town where interesting vintage instruments show up regularly. Heck, I haven't even tried out John's Larson-attributed mandocello I posted earlier. Too much fun...
    Allen Hopkins
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    Registered User gweetarpicker's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gelas mandolin family at Bernunzio's

    Here's a link to the set. https://bernunzio.com/product/gelas-family-26142/

    Each item is also photographed and described separately.

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    Full Grown and Cussin' brunello97's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gelas mandolin family at Bernunzio's

    Very impressive....Thanks Allen and GwtrPkr.

    Any idea how JB came to the set?

    The "Hawaienne" guitar looks fascinating. I'd enjoy hearing that, and the mandocello.

    Interesting that the Hawaiian music craze reached France as well. (I have a recording of a tango quartet from BA playing on Hawaiian guitars.)

    Martin....I know you're following this thread, too. Did it sweep Germany as well?

    Mick
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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gelas mandolin family at Bernunzio's

    Hey, whatsa matter with you guys. You havta post at least on photo. This set will be sold very soon. I am sure that gweetarpicker is checking all his bank accounts. :-)

    Frankly, these instruments are about the wackiest design ever made. Never sure what the point of it. I heard they don't sound bad but you have to stand up on your head to set them up properly.

    Here is the group portrait:

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Jim

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    Michael Reichenbach
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    Default Re: Gelas mandolin family at Bernunzio's

    One bass instrument like the one in this picture has been shown in this video:



    It is played at the end of the video at ca. 4:10
    Homepage: www.mandoisland.de / Blog: www.mandoisland.com / Freiburg / Germany

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    Registered User Martin Jonas's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gelas mandolin family at Bernunzio's

    Quote Originally Posted by mandoisland View Post
    One bass instrument like the one in this picture has been shown in this video:
    Thanks for that link. I note that the video is titled "mandoloncello", but they never mention that name in the video, nor do they specify the tuning. It's four strings and played upright with an extendable spike, like a violoncello. CGDA single string tuning, I think, so basically an octave tenor guitar? Also interesting that this is a German-made Gelas instrument, the first I've heard about. For some reason, the two experts never mention the name "Gelas" and mention the soundboard construction only as an afterthought, after first discussing the headstock, neck and scratchplate shape ("typical Markneukirchen").

    Martin

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  12. #7
    Michael Reichenbach
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    Default Re: Gelas mandolin family at Bernunzio's

    I do not think it's German, it's probably French, maybe made by Claude Patenotte. Patenotte uses the same headstock for his instruments.
    I'll check if this kind of double top instruments were ever made in Germany / Markneukirchen.
    Homepage: www.mandoisland.de / Blog: www.mandoisland.com / Freiburg / Germany

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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gelas mandolin family at Bernunzio's

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    I am sure that gweetarpicker is checking all his bank accounts. :-)
    I take this comment back. Matthew (gweetarpicker) already has a complete set of these beauties. Check out this thread from a few years ago.

    Quote Originally Posted by gweetarpicker View Post
    I actually have a set including a Gelas mandolin, mandola, mandocello, mandobass, classical guitar and Hawaiian guitar, and they all play and sound just fine. I especially like the mandobass, mandocello and mandola, and I am a big fan of the design in general.
    There is a great labeled cross-section photo that Martin Jonas posted in that thread.

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    Here's the video that Matthew posted on that thread of him discussing and playing that mandocello. You can also see his Gelas mandobass.

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    Registered User gweetarpicker's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gelas mandolin family at Bernunzio's

    The Gelas Hawaiian Guitar is dated 1920. Apparently the Hawaiian music fad was hitting Europe not long after the US mainland.

    On a related note, Joseph Kekeku was born in Oahu in 1874 and is thought to have been the very first Hawaiian steel player. In 1919, he began an eight year tour of Europe with a Hawaiian themed Broadway show called "The Bird of Paradise" which helped popularize the instrument.

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    Registered User gweetarpicker's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gelas mandolin family at Bernunzio's

    Gosh guys I guess I'm totally busted! Not sure if Iím breaking some rule by participating in this thread, but in full disclosure, the Gelas set is actually mine that I put on consignment with John. Iíve started thinning the herd a bit because frankly it got completely out of hand when I was writing the Vintage Fretted Instruments book. There is also a video of the mandobass.


    All these instruments are great things, but I feel weird talking about them since they're up for sale, and of course, Bernunzio is officially handling all the questions and transactions and such.


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    Default Re: Gelas mandolin family at Bernunzio's

    Pretty cool to see the full set, and hear the videos! The mandolin is older and made by Gaudet; the rest seem to be made by Rovies

    I've owned a 20's Rovies Gelas mandolin for about 10 years now, also from Bernunzio's, and am still fond of it and its distinctive voice that I think would translate well to the larger mandofamily instruments. It looks very much like the Gaudet mandolin. Later Gelas designs by other makers tend to look a little cruder. Regarding the comment above on setup - It's definitely not your standard setup job, and you'll likely need a creative luthier to sort it out. Tom Keating in NH worked on mine and greatly improved the playability. I think he enjoyed the challenge.

    Fond though I may be, the $20k is not burning a hole in my pocket, but hopefully an enthusiast more affluent than I will take the plunge

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    Registered User gweetarpicker's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gelas mandolin family at Bernunzio's

    Regards setup, the Gelas instruments at Bernunzio were put in good playing order by repairman/luthier, Mark Cigainero in Ft Worth, Texas. As I recall, he did fuss a little about them, but they turned out great.

  21. #13

    Default Re: Gelas mandolin family at Bernunzio's

    Gelas mandobasses, mandochellos and guitars certainly do not come up for sale very often, but Gelas type mandolins (especially flatbacks) are readily available in Europe, sometimes for less than $200. I had one, it had a loud, but not a spectacular voice.

  22. #14
    Full Grown and Cussin' brunello97's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gelas mandolin family at Bernunzio's

    Quote Originally Posted by gweetarpicker View Post
    but in full disclosure, the Gelas set is actually mine that I put on consignment with John.....
    Like Quasimodo, I had a hunch......

    Good luck with the sale....I hope someone buys them all and keeps the set together.

    Did you acquire them separately or as an ensemble yourself?

    Mick
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    Registered User gweetarpicker's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gelas mandolin family at Bernunzio's

    If I recall correctly, the guitar, mandobass and mandolin were individual purchases, and the mandocello and mandola were bought together. Sometimes it takes a while to put a set together. They were all purchased and shipped from France a few years back. I had them all set up in excellent playing order and have had fun with them for sure The mandocello has a killer low end (check out the video starting at about the six minute mark on). The mandola is exceptional too. Maybe because it's a giant flattop, the mandobass seems to be a little louder and hold its own better when playing with other musicians than does my Gibson mandobass.

    Yeah, it seems a shame to break up the set. There's a lot of time and expense involved in finding the pieces, and I hope someone out there takes them all and enjoys them as much as I have.

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