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Thread: Info on this old bowlback?

  1. #1

    Default Info on this old bowlback?

    Just couldn't resist buying this one today after I played on it for a few minutes... it has a great sound and good playability even with old strings! Unfortunately, there's no label inside. The mother of pearl inlays around the soundhole make me think it could be from Sicily... any idea who could have made this mandolin and when?




  2. #2
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    Default Re: Info on this old bowlback?

    The headstock and maybe neck profile look vaguely Roman; Emberghers have a similar headstock, as do some Central European mandolins. The bowl is reminiscent of a higher-end Calace I've seen, but it's not one of his, I don't believe. The four string posts put the instrument around late 19th-early 20th century. The zero fret is beloved of German and Central European makers, but was also used by Ceccherini in Napoli. I get a feel of a more northerly instrument, rather than Sicily or Naples; maybe Rome, maybe Milan or Turin. Hard to say. I suspect it is an instrument of some quality. This supposition is also supported by the 24-fret fingerboard.

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  4. #3

    Default Re: Info on this old bowlback?

    Thanks Bob! Really interesting thoughts.
    The build quality is quite good, the fretwork is nice. What I also noticed, it has t-frets and the pickguard seems to be some tortoise shell imitate, so it's probably not that old, right?
    It's a quite heavy instrument and the bowl seems to be a good bit deeper than on my other bowlbacks (comparable to my Calace). Gives it some more bass response and volume, I think.
    One more interesting thing: It doesn't have 24, but 23 frets!

    I'm seeing some similarites to this German bowlback I found: https://reverb.com/item/14107403-kur...-1940s-natural

  5. #4

    Default Re: Info on this old bowlback?

    Plastics- celluloid etc date back to the 19th century. I can remember back in 1983, taking my great-grandfather's banjo made in the 1890s to the highly regarded British archtop maker, Dick Knight to repair the cracked ebony board. I said to him- "Nice, Ivory tuning buttons." He replied: "I have to tell you they are ivoroid- they are plastic." However, one thing I quickly realised- and this was I think our first meeting, that he was not a typical man. There was no sharp intake of breath and tutting and associated noises of concern and words of dire warning as to the difficulties that lay ahead. He just said "I'll whip off the board, no trouble- we'll soon have it back in order, right as rain." This he did and charged some trifling small amount for his superb work. He subsequently got a cheap 1930s German made plywood guitar into playing order- he refretted it and reset the fingerboard extension and charged me pennies. Now when I look at the guitar- it plays okay but looks better than it sounds- it has a painted top, I think to myself. "I wasted Britain's greatest archtop maker's time getting that thing fixed up!"

    Nice mandolin. Are you in Germany- I think you mentioned that in a previous post. The mandolin does look Italian but it could be from central Europe- which includes Saxony.

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  7. #5
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Info on this old bowlback?

    Thanx to Bob A in Post #2; I didn't know any Italian builders used the zero fret. I was going to opine "zero fret, slotted headstock, probably German," and I would have been, as I often am, risking misinformation.
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    Full Grown and Cussin' brunello97's Avatar
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    Default Re: Info on this old bowlback?

    Allen, all the DeMeglios I have owned have featured zero frets. They made a lot of mandolins.

    To see what DeMeglio -- Ceccherini connections there might have been seems worth sleuthing out.

    I've also seen some Vinaccias with zero frets but mine doesn't have one.

    While this may seem like a generalization, it is pretty hard to make generalizations about mandolin details from this era.

    Mick
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    Default Re: Info on this old bowlback?

    Quote Originally Posted by brunello97 View Post

    While this may seem like a generalization, it is pretty hard to make generalizations about mandolin details from this era.

    Mick
    Oh, I don't know - I don't seem to have a problem with this.




    Of course, if you're looking for accuracy, that may be another matter.

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