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Thread: Unknown Suzuki bowlback (MR-300)

  1. #1

    Default Unknown Suzuki bowlback (MR-300)

    So a few days ago I picked up a used Suzuki bowlback. The seller said he got it as a gift but doesn't play it.
    For me, this seemed like a good upgrade from my no-name chinese plank of wood.

    I did some research on Suzuki's and read that the models from 70s tend to have bent necks because of low quality wood use, but that the more recent models are quite good.
    I've read about models named M20, M30, M60, M80 and M150... but mine is labeled MR-300.

    It seems hardly played (some scratches on the pickguard) and the neck is dead straight which makes me think it's a newer model, yet I have amateur ears and eyes when it comes to mandolins.
    Do any of you happen to know more?

    I don't know how to add pics to a post but I have some if needed.

  2. #2
    mando-evangelist August Watters's Avatar
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    Default Re: Unknown Suzuki bowlback (MR-300)

    I think the 70s-era Suzukis are more often the good ones. I've had a few, among the ones I tend to collect for students. I've heard about bent necks, but am thinking that's likely because of the echo chamber effect here. The bending-neck problem happens often, on old bowlbacks, because today's strings are too heavy. The Suzukis were somewhat heavily-built, but not impervious to this kind of overstringing damage.

    Just this week I got a lovely early Vega, and the strings measure 10 to 39 (ouch!). The lower strings are too thick for the bridge slots, and are binding. Neck has pulled forward a bit, but no way to tell if that's recent, or from years of use. It plays OK as is, but will probably need elective surgery to be its best.
    Exploring Classical Mandolin (Berklee Press, 2015)
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  3. #3

    Default Re: Unknown Suzuki bowlback (MR-300)

    Thanks for the reply August (off-topic: Such a coincidence, I just started your book 'Exploring Classical Mandolin a few days ago).

    I'm definitely very happy with my purchase. My aim to learn classical mandolin relatively decently, and this seems like a good student instrument to me.
    Mainly I am still wondering about this specific model though, I have no idea when it was built, which kind of woods were used, ...

    Here's pics of the outside and the inside label:

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Click image for larger version. 

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  5. #4

    Default Re: Unknown Suzuki bowlback (MR-300)

    I'm no expert, but I've noticed, that the MR-Suzukis have a solid headstock with a Martin-like logo, whereas the M-Suzukis have a slotted headstock.
    I had a M-60 rosewood mandolin, that was OK for the used price I had payed.

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