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Thread: Bigsby/ Jay Roberts: How many made, any out there?

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    poor excuse for anything Charlieshafer's Avatar
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    Question Bigsby/ Jay Roberts: How many made, any out there?

    OK, so I'm looking at a picture of Tiny Moore's Bigsby mandolin while listening to his CD with Jethro Burns, and of course need to have one, bad. The obvious problem is that there were what, 4-5 made? They're also probably as desirable as the Bigsby guitars, which are long snapped up and gone, as well as being completely unaffordable. So, next step is to lust after one of the Jay Roberts reproductions. How many of those were made, and do they ever show up?

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    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bigsby/ Jay Roberts: How many made, any out there?

    I don't know how many Roberts mandolins were made, maybe 100-200. I see 1 or 2 of them a year. Actually, I can see one every day if I want to...

    Bigsby made at least 4 electric mandolins. The original owners were Paul Buskirk, Tiny Moore, Eschol Cosby, and Al Giddings. Cosby passed away recently, and I know his Bigsby electric tenor passed through the capable hands of George Gruhn; it's likely that the mandolin did as well. Tiny's mandolin is at Skip's Music in Sacramento. I have no idea about the other two.
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    poor excuse for anything Charlieshafer's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bigsby/ Jay Roberts: How many made, any out there?

    Interesting on the Roberts. I had seen the picture you'd posted of yours, and of course was jealous, envious, petty, the works. If they come up once or twice a year, that's a wait I can handle. Do you like the way yours plays, or am I attaching too much significance to the look? Heck, even if it's not perfect, it still looks too cool for the room.

    I do need to find a retro-player, though. A group-mate has just gotten a great old pedal steel, complete with old amp, so I'll need to compete with that volume and style-wise. I hate to think what we'll end up playing; probably take old Bob Wills stuff and give it a Horseflies-type treatment. We'll need to tweak it somehow; I don't want anyone to realize that we're not all that good...

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    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bigsby/ Jay Roberts: How many made, any out there?

    Keep an eye on Gruhn/Elderly/eBay; a Roberts will pop up sooner or later. Mine is a little cantankerous because of its age (I may need to have the volume pot looked at again), and the wide fretboard takes a little getting used to. But it looks and sounds cool, and has that great vintage vibe.
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    poor excuse for anything Charlieshafer's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bigsby/ Jay Roberts: How many made, any out there?

    VERY helpful , thanks for all the info.

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    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bigsby/ Jay Roberts: How many made, any out there?

    I heard from Eschol Cosby's son today, and his family still has his Bigsby mandolin. It was an 8-stringer, as opposed to Tiny's (5) or Paul Buskirk's (10). IIRC Buskirk sold his Bigsby somewhere along the way; it sure would be fun to track it down.

    P.S. There's a Roberts in the classifieds right now ... all the way from Israel!
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    ISO TEKNO delsbrother's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bigsby/ Jay Roberts: How many made, any out there?

    Re-reading Deke Dickerson's VG article, he mentions the Roberts being UNlike the Bigsbys in just about every feature other than looks. Martin, have you ever seen an original Bigsby to compare? I'm guessing (from the article's implications) that the Roberts is a solidbody while the Bigsby was a neck-thru hollowbody?

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    Default Re: Bigsby/ Jay Roberts: How many made, any out there?

    Quote Originally Posted by delsbrother View Post
    Re-reading Deke Dickerson's VG article, he mentions the Roberts being UNlike the Bigsbys in just about every feature other than looks.
    Sure seems like a good little niche market for a mando maker looking for something to do, no?
    It's an easy build, too...

    Here's a repro Bigsby steel I saw recently, for instance:





    And some real string packages from the man himself...


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    ISO TEKNO delsbrother's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bigsby/ Jay Roberts: How many made, any out there?

    Hey, were you at the SD steel guitar show? If you were, we were in the same room together without knowing it.

    According to Deke, all the Bigsbys were hollowbodies, with neck-thru construction (like a Mann?) so it's supposedly very light. The neck of Tiny's is part of the sides; there's no joint there.
    Last edited by delsbrother; Jun-22-2010 at 12:39am.

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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bigsby/ Jay Roberts: How many made, any out there?

    I have a black Roberts one I bought from Tiny in the 1980s. He was Ashokan Swing Week and was playing his Roberts and he sure sounded pretty good on it. Prob much better if he had the Bigsby with him but he did sell me on it. They are nice for 5 strings and have that sound.
    Jim

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    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bigsby/ Jay Roberts: How many made, any out there?

    I've never been in the same room with a real Bigsby mandolin, but at least now we know where a couple of them are.
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    wood butcher Spruce's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bigsby/ Jay Roberts: How many made, any out there?

    Quote Originally Posted by delsbrother View Post
    Hey, were you at the SD steel guitar show? If you were, we were in the same room together without knowing it.
    Bummer!!
    Would have loved to have met you finally...
    Oh well....

    More pics of the show here...

    Are you going to this next weekend by chance?

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    ISO TEKNO delsbrother's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bigsby/ Jay Roberts: How many made, any out there?

    Are the Roberts emandos solidbodies? How is the neck attached to the body?

    Bruce, you must've gotten there pretty early, as those tables look almost empty compared to when I finally showed up. I was hoping to see a few more acoustic steels there, as well as hear either hardcore Hawaiian or Western Swing playing. Unfortunately I think I may have missed that part.

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    poor excuse for anything Charlieshafer's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bigsby/ Jay Roberts: How many made, any out there?

    P.S. There's a Roberts in the classifieds right now ... all the way from Israel![/QUOTE]

    Saw the one in Israel. Price doesn't bother me, but the queasiness of dealing with a foreign seller does.

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    Default Re: Bigsby/ Jay Roberts: How many made, any out there?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    I have a black Roberts one I bought from Tiny in the 1980s. He was Ashokan Swing Week and was playing his Roberts and he sure sounded pretty good on it. Prob much better if he had the Bigsby with him but he did sell me on it. They are nice for 5 strings and have that sound.
    Sell it quick! I know for a fact that the recent severe weather in New England is a direct result of the gravitational pull from your collection. Best to spread it out...

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    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bigsby/ Jay Roberts: How many made, any out there?

    Quote Originally Posted by Charlieshafer View Post
    Price doesn't bother me, but the queasiness of dealing with a foreign seller does.
    Well, I've sold instruments to people in JapanKoreaAustraliaIsraelFranceGermanyUnitedKingdo mBelgiumCanada ... I wonder if any of them have qualms about buying from a Yank?
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    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bigsby/ Jay Roberts: How many made, any out there?

    I took my Roberts down to Portland, where I was going to sit in on mandocello with Brian Oberlin's Oregon Mandolin Orchestra. Brian plugged the Roberts in to his Polytone Megabrute and took it to town ... I dunno, we may have to let the Roberts have a change of address.

    Odd thing ... two weeks ago, I sat in on a coffeehouse gig in Astoria with Paul Lestock and played his personal Jazzbo 5-string. Then I come down to Brian's place in Portland, and what did Brian bring home from Weiser? The same Jazzbo 5-string I played in Astoria! I did not expect to see it again so soon.
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    In The Van Ben Milne's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bigsby/ Jay Roberts: How many made, any out there?

    Quote Originally Posted by mrmando View Post
    . I wonder if any of them have qualms about buying from a Yank?
    Of course we do Martin But where the hell else are we going to find these things?
    Hereby & forthwith, any instrument with an odd number of strings shall be considered broken. With regard to mix levels, usually the best approach is treating the mandolin the same as a cowbell.

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    poor excuse for anything Charlieshafer's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bigsby/ Jay Roberts: How many made, any out there?

    Quote Originally Posted by mrmando View Post
    Well, I've sold instruments to people in JapanKoreaAustraliaIsraelFranceGermanyUnitedKingdo mBelgiumCanada ... I wonder if any of them have qualms about buying from a Yank?
    Hey Martin,

    What's your preferred method of dealing with folks overseas which would protect both buyer and seller?

    Thanks,
    Charlie
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    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bigsby/ Jay Roberts: How many made, any out there?

    My preferred method is PayPal; I've had several successful transactions that way. I have done a couple of international wire transfers (both times the money came my direction), but there is less protection that way. (If you're nervous, you can set up a new bank account just for the wire transfer, so any other money you might have in other accounts wouldn't be exposed.) If you have concerns about a transaction, try establishing phone or Skype contact with the person beforehand. I've made a sale or two to Israel; no hitches except that Israeli customs takes a long time. You can always ask if a seller has any friends coming to the States in the near future who wouldn't mind carrying the mandolin.
    Emando.com: More than you wanted to know about electric mandolins.

    Notorious: My Celtic CD--listen & buy!

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    poor excuse for anything Charlieshafer's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bigsby/ Jay Roberts: How many made, any out there?

    Quote Originally Posted by mrmando View Post
    My preferred method is PayPal; I've had several successful transactions that way. I have done a couple of international wire transfers (both times the money came my direction), but there is less protection that way. (If you're nervous, you can set up a new bank account just for the wire transfer, so any other money you might have in other accounts wouldn't be exposed.) If you have concerns about a transaction, try establishing phone or Skype contact with the person beforehand. I've made a sale or two to Israel; no hitches except that Israeli customs takes a long time. You can always ask if a seller has any friends coming to the States in the near future who wouldn't mind carrying the mandolin.
    Grazie

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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bigsby/ Jay Roberts: How many made, any out there?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    I have a black Roberts one I bought from Tiny in the 1980s. He was Ashokan Swing Week and was playing his Roberts and he sure sounded pretty good on it. Prob much better if he had the Bigsby with him but he did sell me on it. They are nice for 5 strings and have that sound.
    FWIW I posted pics here: http://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/sh...emandos/page64
    Jim

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    still Lefty & French Philippe Bony's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bigsby/ Jay Roberts: How many made, any out there?

    Quote Originally Posted by mrmando View Post
    Well, I've sold instruments to people in JapanKoreaAustraliaIsraelFranceGermanyUnitedKingdo mBelgiumCanada ... I wonder if any of them have qualms about buying from a Yank?
    You bet?

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    Registered User Eddy Mando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bigsby/ Jay Roberts: How many made, any out there?

    How many colors did Roberts Mandolins come in? and
    were there any 8 stringers?
    Eddy
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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bigsby/ Jay Roberts: How many made, any out there?

    Quote Originally Posted by Eddy Mando View Post
    How many colors did Roberts Mandolins come in? and
    were there any 8 stringers?
    Eddy
    When I ordered mine from Tiny, he said the std finish was the orangey/red sunburst. I think he said I could probably order whatever color I wanted and originally asked about an aqua. Tiny didn't like that and he like the black idea much better. So do I.

    I have no idea what other colors were made by Roberts. All the others I have seen besides mine have been the sunburst.

    Fender AFAIK used to use the standard Dupont colors (same as that used for cars) on their guitars. As far as the Roberts mandolins, I would think that most were custom ordered anyway. I doubt there was any kind of large factory production.
    Jim

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