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Thread: A little help with a new toy, please

  1. #1

    Default A little help with a new toy, please

    I ordered this taterbug off of the bay of E and already feel vindicated. This little guy has a bright treble, relatively muted mid-range, and a nice sweet bass that doesn't pop at all.

    On the inside I can see Improved Columbus with no date. I hear that is a type of Lyon and Healy?

    I'm just looking for any wood identification and / or approximate decade of making. Any info is appreciated!
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  2. #2
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: A little help with a new toy, please

    Here's one at Fred Oster's Vintage Instruments in Philly. He says "Lyon & Healy" and he's quite the expert, so I'd go with that.

    His isn't nice as yours; you've got alternating maple and mahogany (?) ribs in the back (please, someone, correct me if I've mis-identified rosewood as mahogany). The low number of ribs, lack of decorative inlay, and simple purfling indicate a student-grade instrument. Those alternating-woods ribs are generally found on older instruments (1890-1910) rather than later, and here's a beat-up Improved Columbus on Worthpoint that has a back-strip stamped with a "Pat. 1891," so I'd tend to put yours at turn-of-the-20th-century or so.

    The black tuner buttons might also be a clue as to vintage, but I'll leave that to someone more learned.

    Can't really tell from the pic, but please check and make sure you have only the lightest grade of strings on your mandolin. Bowl-backs don't take kindly to the gauge of strings that most carved-tops take without a problem. GHS makes an extra-light set that's as heavy as most would go on a bowl-back.
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  3. #3

    Default Re: A little help with a new toy, please

    Hubert Pleijsier's Washburn book mentions the mixed rosewood and maple ribs being pre-1896 and he shows very similar mandolins from 1889 and 1892 in terms of their introduction.One difference is the tailpiece- this mandolin has a less expensive variety. One assumes, that this brand which may have been a Lyon & Healy sub-brand and was sold at a lower price or it may have been a brand for a third party retailer. Others will know, I am sure.

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