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Thread: Mystery Mandolin

  1. #1

    Default Mystery Mandolin

    My friend has had this mandolin since 1968 and it was old when he got it. We're trying to identify it. There's no brand info inside out outside. It looks similar to many Gibsons but the headstock is very plain and doesn't look like anything else we've seen. The tailpiece is not original but to the best of our knowledge everything else is. It's definitely carved top and back and has been enjoyed for a long time by evidence of the neck and fretwear.

    Any ideas appreciated.

    John Morrison
    Creemore Ont
    CanadaClick image for larger version. 

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  2. #2

    Default Re: Mystery Mandolin

    It really is a bit of a mystery. It has clipped tuner plates of a style that suggests 1930s or possibly 1940s. That pickguard is very odd and the rather utilitarian headstock shape, with that straight top edge, likewise. It has a Gibson style tailpiece with a new cover plate. The body looks quite nice while the board has multiple dots as you would see on a Kay made instrument from the 40s or 50s but it all seems to come together lacking a cohesive feel to the style. This makes me wonder if somebody has assembled it with quite a degree of skill rather than an established maker.

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  4. #3

    Default Re: Mystery Mandolin

    It really is a bit of a mystery. It has clipped tuner plates of a style that suggests 1930s or possibly 1940s. That pickguard is very odd and the rather utilitarian headstock shape, with that straight top edge, likewise. It has a Gibson style tailpiece with a new cover plate. The body looks quite nice while the board has multiple dots as you would see on a Kay made instrument from the 40s or 50s but it all seems to come together lacking a cohesive feel to the style. This makes me wonder if somebody has assembled it with quite a degree of skill rather than an established maker. Don't know why this went up twice when I edited in a few extra words!

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  6. #4
    Registered User William Smith's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mystery Mandolin

    To me it looks like a very well made mandolin in the 30's style? Has an ebony nut that seen in those years, a thick tortoise type guard that looks 30's! Also the tuners look around that vintage, as well as the bridge? The tailpiece cover is newer but I'll say its 30's early 40's at the latest? There was a thread earlier about Benko mandolins "I think that's the name" and they are from Canada and I see this from the OP is from Canada so that's a possibility? I like it but again I have a soft spot for anything pre-war style and I believe this one fits that bill?

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  8. #5
    Teacher, luthier
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    Default Re: Mystery Mandolin

    Possibly Regal-- I've seen a similar peghead shape on some Regal Octofones.
    It is not a Gibson product.

    Whatever it is, it looks like a well made instrument.

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  10. #6
    Registered User William Smith's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mystery Mandolin

    Is that a Mahogany back? And the guard is very thick, is that real shell or just the typical plastic of the period? If its shell I'd buy that in a heartbeat for many quality picks and have a replica made!

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  12. #7

    Default Re: Mystery Mandolin

    The Octophone headstock is somewhat like this mandolin but it does have a curve- as was typical of Regal mandolins- to my eye it has always been rather lacking in any flair- but I'm not complaining. I just find it odd that it has clipped tuner plates- you see that on some bowl backs but I don't think I have seen it on a flat back- from memory. This just makes me think that somebody was creating the instrument from a disparate collection of parts but that is pure conjecture. As I mentioned that large collection of dot markers is the sort of thing Kay liked to do- and Kay also liked to chuck in some diamonds for good measure- I am looking at my Silvertone Crest- although the diamonds are oriented north to south- not east to west and are more slender. I am going to drag out a Kay mandolin and have a look at the volute. Yes, six dot markers- not seven and a different volute.

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  14. #8

    Default Re: Mystery Mandolin

    Hi William. I don't think the back is mahogany. Probably maple. Here's two pics of the inside. You can see the nice parallel grain of the top. I'd say the bottom is maple in these pics.

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  15. #9

    Default Re: Mystery Mandolin

    Hi William. I don't think the back is mahogany. Probably maple. Here's two pics of the inside. You can see the nice parallel grain of the top. I'd say the bottom is maple in these pics.

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  16. #10
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mystery Mandolin

    I don't think it is made by any know factory. That tailpiece is not only new but recent. And I am not so sure that the nut is ebony. It could be plastic. Usually makers don't polish up nuts to reflect like that. I guess the OP can look at it and let us know what he thinks.

    I, too, thought that the back was mahogany more or less by the look of the grain.

    On another subject: why are there double posts on this thread?

    I don't know of this is Benko. The examples I have are all f-holed ones with different neck buttons and headstocks (more ornate).
    Jim

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