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Thread: 1923 A2- To Drill Or Not to Drill? That is the question...

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    Default 1923 A2- To Drill Or Not to Drill? That is the question...

    I bought an A2 in 1996 and when I bought it- as this is pre-internet and my knowledge was limited, I bought the mandolin because it had great tone and volume- I knew nothing about snakeheads and Lloyd Loar and all the other stuff that is de rigueur now.
    At that time, I was unaware that the tailpiece cover was a repro, that the tuners were not original, that it was missing its pickguard etc although I knew the case was modern. I have now acquired a case, arrowhead tuners, an original tailpiece cover and now a pickguard. The sellers of the guard- a very well-known firm had it listed as "Loar Era" but in truth, with that small bracket, it is post this famed era- I think the F style mandolins got this bracket in 1925 while probably because there was a huge stock, the A series had the clamp until at least 1928 and mandolins from that time were often not shipped until 1930 or later.
    My question is, should I drill a hole and screw it on or find a clamp? I know it is my mandolin and it would have had a clamp originally- there is no existing screw hole. I can remember Danny Gatton maintaining that if he modded an old vintage instrument, it was okay- because he had done it, so it was fine! I don't think there is an alternative method of fixing that avoids drilling a hole, so I am canvassing opinions.
    These photos are not great but the guard is in good condition:

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  2. #2
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1923 A2- To Drill Or Not to Drill? That is the question...

    I would think you might be able to modify a side of a viola chin rest to use as a clamp, other than that I'd look for a clamp. The problem with finding the clamps is that those of us that have them hoard them generally and those that know what they are think they are worth a fortune. I'm all for making instruments into what you want them to be and it seems to me that if you have gone to the trouble of getting the right tuners and you're asking this question you don't want to drill.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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    Default Re: 1923 A2- To Drill Or Not to Drill? That is the question...

    Would it be the end of the world to just forget about putting the pick guard on?

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    Teacher, luthier
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    Default Re: 1923 A2- To Drill Or Not to Drill? That is the question...

    You can get a Hill style viola chinrest clamp from www.internationalviolin.com.
    The Hill style clamps work very well, and you don't have to modify the instrument.
    You'll need to make a mounting block from a small piece of hardwood or thick plastic to link the pickguard's support rod and the clamp.

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    Default Re: 1923 A2- To Drill Or Not to Drill? That is the question...

    I agree, I can leave the pickguard off- I don't have to mount the guard but I bought it to use it. What I did not mention, was that one with the clamp that was "Loar Era" was on eBay the very next week! However, I did not bid on it with a view to selling this one and the reason I did not bid, was because no overseas shipping from the USA was specified. All of the other items the seller had were shown to be under the Global Shipping Program which was fine. I contacted the seller to ask if it could be added- and he said it was on the GSP! I have come across this before- the seller includes an item on the GPS yet eBay excludes it! I contacted him to ask if it was okay to bid and if I won, could he ship it direct to me but I got no reply! I bought a mandolin from New Jersey and the seller said it was on the GPS. I said it was not showing. He said- phone eBay- so I did. The eBay person would give no reason for its exclusion from the GPS and I was told to ask the seller: "Will you ship direct to me?" which I did, and he obliged but he had listed the mandolin a few times with no bids. It is really irksome- the pickguard has no rosewood or ivory content but it was not available overseas- and eBay is excluding bids to the seller. Likewise, with that mandolin- no rosewood mentioned in the listing- no rosewood in its construction either.
    Thank you all for your input- I found this clamp nearer to home. What would be the verdict on it? It looks like it might work. https://www.thestringzone.co.uk/stra...SABEgIiWvD_BwE

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    Registered User jim simpson's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1923 A2- To Drill Or Not to Drill? That is the question...

    Here is one I made to replace the missing clamp on my F-4. Paul Fox offers 2 Pickguards with this type of clamp. He lists them on Ebay, they look very nice. https://www.ebay.com/itm/Gibson-A-or...QAAOSwevJd0-uR
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  10. #7

    Default Re: 1923 A2- To Drill Or Not to Drill? That is the question...

    Interestingly, Paul Fox's pickguard is only $15 less than the one with the clamp that I did not bid on, as I mentioned. In fact Paul Fox's pickguard is for an earlier mandolin with two pins into the fingerboard and another into the bridge. The one I bought has just one pin which is correct for my mandolin. I can see how it would be possible to make a decent clamp as suggested using the chinrest clamp method. I know it seems a bit obsessive trying to get it right when ten seconds with a drill would be a simple fix! I am the sort of person who will try to do the right thing if it is an available option. I have to admit, seeing that other pickguard and clamp which went for a reasonable price, so soon after buying one was somewhat galling! I suppose I could have bid on it and the guy would just have had to post it to me or run the auction again!

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    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1923 A2- To Drill Or Not to Drill? That is the question...

    Quote Originally Posted by NickR View Post
    ... I found this clamp nearer to home. What would be the verdict on it? It looks like it might work. https://www.thestringzone.co.uk/stra...SABEgIiWvD_BwE
    Violin size won't work, you need the viola size if they make it.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1923 A2- To Drill Or Not to Drill? That is the question...

    Just posting to be posting here, I guess...
    If you use the viola-style clamp be aware that those things are intended for instruments with overhanging plate edges (top and back edges). There is no clearance for the barrel on mandolins of usual construction (non-overhanging plates edges) so damage to finish is common from careless use of viola style camps.

    Drilling a hole and installing a screw into the side of the mandolin is not a particularly good thing to do. The side wood is very thin, the lining inside is small, the screw holes in the sides of mandolins are often stripped out from careless people, from many removals and replacements, over-tightening and so firth.

    Bottom line, even when not considering the damage to originality from drilling a hole, it is not a particularly good method of pick guard attachment, so I wouldn't drill.

    If you can find an old pick guard clamp (congratulations!) that would be best. The viola style clamp is an acceptable alternative if you are careful with it and try to mount it so that the barrel is not pressed tightly against the side of the mandolin. (Sometimes I place a thick piece of soft cloth between the barrel and the instrument while tightening the adjustment. The cloth can then be pulled out leaving a small space between the clamp and the instrument. Beware of the tool used. It must be long enough to extend all the way through the barrel to work well, and that means it is long enough to scratch/damage the finish or even the side of the mandolin.)

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  15. #10

    Default Re: 1923 A2- To Drill Or Not to Drill? That is the question...

    I will look for the viola version and I appreciate the advice on the pitfalls of using this method. You never, know, I might get the original right clamp- given time but I think my best chance was just last week!

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    Registered User jim simpson's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1923 A2- To Drill Or Not to Drill? That is the question...

    Very good info/warning from John Hamlett regarding potential damage tightening the viola clamp. The viola clamps are used on mandolin armrests so more commonly used these days. I made this little tool using a dowel in order to have more control as the tool that is commonly provided is rather small. I made mine with a short straight end and the bent end. Again, caution should be used to avoid damaging the instrument sides.
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    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1923 A2- To Drill Or Not to Drill? That is the question...

    You're drilling would be into apart of the rim that is backed up by the kerfed lining strip the top and side are joined with..

    There is a reasonable thickness there..
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    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: 1923 A2- To Drill Or Not to Drill? That is the question...

    This just showed up in the classifieds......

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/156695#156695

    NFI
    Charley

    A bunch of stuff with four strings

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    Default Re: 1923 A2- To Drill Or Not to Drill? That is the question...

    I already bought that from Lowell for a 1924 Gibson Tenor Lute that's already converted to a Mandola-very poorly-I got it very cheap-the TL so it'll need a new neck and I'm thinking a White "Amana" Top or if I can find the correct tuners a replica of Loars 1922 10 string! Awesome right? I will have the GREAT Gary Vessel do this resto/conversion as he already did my other basket case 24 TL to a mandola with a black top and its a phenomenal Dola!

  22. #15
    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: 1923 A2- To Drill Or Not to Drill? That is the question...

    Thanks William, you would have thought that the listing would have been marked SOLD or taken down by now...
    Charley

    A bunch of stuff with four strings

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