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Thread: Bizarre attic find. Any guesses?

  1. #1
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    Default Bizarre attic find. Any guesses?

    Hi all,

    I found this is my grandfatherís attic. Strange (and poorly glued) bridge, pins, and saddle setup. Zero identifying markings. I can only say for certain that itís old. Maybe some home build from kit?

    Any ideas?

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  2. #2

    Default Re: Bizarre attic find. Any guesses?

    It's a Harmony mandolin although it looks a bit tubby and it has the Harmony patent "aero" bridge which people say was inspired by the Lindbergh flight across the Atlantic. In fact the timing was just fortuitous. Harmony made guitars with this bridge and many were sold as Supertone branded instruments by Sear, Roebuck who owned Harmony. It is said that despite the fact that the bridge was inspired by the barnstorming plane mania of the mid 1920s, it does strengthen a guitar top although I don't know if this is true or not. The headstock shape of Harmony mandolins changed to the style shown on your mandolin about 1930. I would imagine your mandolin is all birch and it may be a Supertone model- or sold by some other retailer. You see the bridge on ukuleles- does it look to be original in situ? I would not expect to see a pin bridge in that position- I have a Vinaccia which has four pins in the tailpiece for the strings.The bridge is probably not original to the mandolin and has come from a uke. Any holes on the end to show a tailpiece was once affixed there? https://www.worthpoint.com/worthoped...vin-1989010717
    Last edited by NickR; May-19-2020 at 11:20am.

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  4. #3
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    Default Re: Bizarre attic find. Any guesses?

    Nick,

    Thank you! Thatís more information than I could have hoped for.

    From what youíve provided, I concur that it looks like someone glued a uke aerobridge onto this mando. Thereís a ridiculous amount of overflow glue (not seen in photo). You can also identify damage to the bridge (also hard to see in photo) from the tension of mandolin strings on the bridge/saddle. Strangely enough, I canít locate filled holes where the tailpiece should have been.

    Thanks again! My father will enjoy the information. Iíll prob clean the mando up a bit, and keep it as a sentimental piece of family wall art. 😂

  5. #4

    Default Re: Bizarre attic find. Any guesses?

    You could buy an old clam shell tailpiece- the cheapest variety, screw it on and locate a bridge and string it up. Here is one below- you can pay more for them and they are available new:

    https://www.ebay.com/itm/Vintage-Ste...YAAOSwkF1euvwI

    There are plenty of new bridges for a flat top mandolin available.You might have to sand down the base to get the height right. The mandolin looks to be in good cosmetic order but I assume it has holes in the top where the pins should go? Here is a very similar Supertone from the mid-30s made by Harmony- now gone electric. You can see the tailpiece and the bridge set up but a simpler bridge would do. Do you think your mandolin was strung up as an uke?

    https://jakewildwood.blogspot.com/20...supertone.html

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  7. #5

    Default Re: Bizarre attic find. Any guesses?

    It sure is a cutie! Fortunately or unfortunately the bridge is the coolest thing about it, IMHO. I would probably just stick two strings per hole and loosely tighten them and make it a wall-hanger and be done with it. If you absolutely have to play it, I think you would ruin what it cool about it by adding non-original parts and messing with the bridge. OTOH, you could glue a huge bridge plate inside to add support. I would still stick with two strings per hole. You might have to notch the saddle to keep the strings separated, but I'm guessing it would be a lot of work to make it play great, so......

  8. #6
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    Default Re: Bizarre attic find. Any guesses?

    Thank for the replies folks, and thanks for the links Nick.

    I checked the bracing and the top and she’d need some attention to return to playing condition, beyond that bridge of course. It’s a cool little curious piece, so I’m glad for it as art with a backstory.

    Thanks again for all the help identifying it!

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