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Thread: What is it? Cumbus? Banjolin?

  1. #1

    Default What is it? Cumbus? Banjolin?

    Can anyone help to identify this instrument? Is it a cumbus? Mandolin cumbus? Banjolin? Any help would be appreciated.
    I got it from a thrift store for $0.00. It was on its way to the dumpster. It is 24" long and the body is 10" wide. The neck appears to be repaired and is loose. The dark wood triangle is chipped/missing. Is the dark wood ebony? In places, on the front the wood has tiny cracks, kind of like you get from dried-out wood. (I don't know much about this.) 🙂 The metal disc is aluminum. In the center of the disc is a skin like on a banjo. Sounds good. Intact.
    The screws and the string holder thing has some rust.
    After I eventually finish the mandolin I'm working on, I want to spruce this up. Not strip it, just clean it up and get it working. Future goals.

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  2. #2

    Default Re: What is it? Cumbus? Banjolin?

    It's a banjo mandolin or mandolin banjo, whichever you prefer.

    Dave H
    Last edited by Dave Hanson; Jun-22-2020 at 12:52am. Reason: add to
    Eastman 615 mandola
    2011 Weber Bitteroot A5
    2012 Weber Bitteroot F5
    Eastman MD 915V
    Gibson F9
    2016 Capek ' Bob ' standard scale tenor banjo
    Ibanez Artist 5 string
    2001 Paul Shippey oval hole

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  4. #3
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    40.1646 N, 74.2083 W

    Default Re: What is it? Cumbus? Banjolin?

    For a minute I thought I was staring at a bicycle chain wheel.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  5. #4
    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Saint Augustine Beach FL

    Default Re: What is it? Cumbus? Banjolin?

    Definitely a banjo-mandolin, more then likely European made. The tuners, body style and slotted headstock all point that way. Looks like the back could be walnut burl...English? The dark triangles look to be ebony but could be dyed pear wood, hard to tell. Certainly looks worth restoring. It could be a fun little instrument.
    Let us know how it goes.

    A bunch of stuff with four strings

  6. #5
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Rochester NY 14610

    Default Re: What is it? Cumbus? Banjolin?

    The slotted headstock and the wide resonator flanges strongly suggest European design; the "cloud" tailpiece could be European or American. I haven't seen US instruments without brackets to adjust the tension of the head; you're going to have to take the resonator off to determine what system, if any, is used to control the head tension.

    Since from its appearance, it hasn't been treated with great care, not surprising that the resonator wood's dried out. You'll need a banjo-mandolin bridge for it, and could replace the missing section of the resonator "decor" if wanted. Taking it apart, you'll ascertain how the neck's attached to the shell, and what it would take to tighten up the attachment. I'd guess it's probably just attached with screws or bolts; unlikely that the instrument would have coordinator rod(s), though it might well have a dowel stick.

    I find banjo-esque instruments without tension brackets strange but interesting; nine out of ten banjos from the 1870's on had such brackets, while a minority tried other ways to control head tension. If you get a chance, let us know what you find "inside."
    Allen Hopkins
    Gibsn: '54 F5 3pt F2 A-N Custm K1 m'cello
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    Eastmn: 615'dola 805 m'cello
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