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Thread: May Bell mandolin on Pottstown PA craigslist

  1. #26
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: May Bell mandolin on Pottstown PA craigslist

    Quote Originally Posted by nmiller View Post
    These were not built by Slingerland; the only stringed instruments they ever built were banjos. These were built by Regal.
    Quote Originally Posted by Charles E. View Post
    I would love to see proof of this. Does that mean that Mike's example of a Slingerland catalog featuring mandolins is false?
    Quote Originally Posted by MikeEdgerton View Post
    Look, the F-holes on the OP's mandolin aren't segmented, they actually are more like Gibson F holes of the era (and we both know it wasn't built by Gibson). Are there any Regal mandolins with that shape F hole? Something that might look like the OP's mandolin? Heel shape? You have access to catalogs, is there a catalog picture that resembles even parts of it?
    It looks like the May Bell pictured on this page does have the segmented f-holes but the one on craigslist does not.

    The Slingerland site owner states:
    Note the 3-piece "comma style" f-holes like those that are found on the f-hole guitars. Unusual that the May Bell mandolin has these f-holes and the Slingerland Songster mandolin has regular f-holes.
    Ah, the joys of attributing Chicago instruments. As usual, we may never be 100% sure of anything.
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  2. #27
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    Default Re: May Bell mandolin on Pottstown PA craigslist

    Segmented F holes have been used on quite a few brands through the years-- the original Epiphone company, Strad-o-lin, Shutt, and Harmony to name just a few.

    Who made what and for whom in Chicago during the '30's is, in many cases, an unanswerable question.
    A theory of mine is that there were instances during the '30's when Harmony, Regal, and Kay may have actually co-operated with each other, perhaps even occasionally providing each other with parts from time to time.

    How Slingerland may have fitted into all of that, I do not know. If they were making their own banjo necks, they were certainly capable of making mandolin necks also.

    As far as the older thread is concerned, I've known Bobby Burns for years, and I know of no one who has taken apart more old Chicago instruments. And he has a good eye, good enough that he notices many things that most others would miss. If he feels that Slingerland bodies are unique enough in construction to have been made in-house, there is a pretty good chance that he is correct.

    At any rate, $250 for the instrument in question is certainly a decent price, as long as it does not need any major repairs.

  3. #28
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: May Bell mandolin on Pottstown PA craigslist

    I can attest to the fact that the Chicago builders did have some weird relationships. Again, they had to share common sources. When someone left one company I'm pretty sure the next morning they were applying for a job at the next company. It would just make sense. Sometimes it's easy to say who built what, sometimes it's impossible. That's just the way it is.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  4. #29
    Registered User Eric Platt's Avatar
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    Default Re: May Bell mandolin on Pottstown PA craigslist

    This has been discussed before, but I still wonder if the tops weren't made by one of the builders and sold to others. The Kalamazoo and Slingerland f-holes look so similar to my eye. And I still don't see why Gibson would start cutting different sized holes on the arco arched tops.

    And, yes, that MayBell would be a nice find if it didn't need any work.
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  5. #30
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    Default Re: May Bell mandolin on Pottstown PA craigslist

    Ah, the old "who really made them" monster raises its head again... To the best of my knowledge, Slingerland made all their own instruments, not just the banjos. And, yes, I'm pretty sure that all the Chicago companies worked together... It was a wide open market 100 yrs ago, after all... No shortage of customers. I have found NO Regal instruments that share the same build as the Slingerlands... I've taken apart and rebuilt them both, and there are noticeable differences (thickness, size, & finish of braces, kerfing, etc.). The companies all bought parts from the same sources, so pickguards, bridges, etc will be interchangeable, and out of the 5 SL & May Bell arch back mandolins I have, there are 4 different bridges!! The May Bell flat back mandos (oval hole) I have use 2 different styles of bridges.

    Here's another f-hole style from a May Bell mando.Click image for larger version. 

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    The Slingerland website is terribly out of date, and I really need to get on that this Winter... since I last updated it, I now have a LOT of banjos and banjo family instruments to add. Think I have at least one of every model of guitar they made?

    Here's another mandolin that you don't see very often, the Cathedranola model... I have only seen two in person, and the 2nd one, a very plain one, is getting rebuilt in my basement! Would love to know if others exist!!

    Click image for larger version. 

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    dkolars
    http://www.slingerlandguitar.com
    http://www.davekolars.com

    "We're all so caught up in wanting to sound different, wanting to sound original-- but we should stop trying so hard. We're all unique at birth. We'll come out sounding original without giving it a thought." (Feet Rogers)

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  7. #31
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    Default Re: May Bell mandolin on Pottstown PA craigslist

    If you look at the f-holes on the SL guitars, note that the flat edge of the tail is parallel to the strings. NO other maker has that, they are all angled slightly towards the bridge. And, ANY instrument that has the 1-(1)-2-2-1 inlay pattern is a Slingerland. No other company used that
    dkolars
    http://www.slingerlandguitar.com
    http://www.davekolars.com

    "We're all so caught up in wanting to sound different, wanting to sound original-- but we should stop trying so hard. We're all unique at birth. We'll come out sounding original without giving it a thought." (Feet Rogers)

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  9. #32
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    Default Re: May Bell mandolin on Pottstown PA craigslist

    If Gibson had ever supplied instruments or even parts to Slingerland, there would be some concrete evidence of it-- such as Gibson style factory order numbers, braces sawn in the Gibson style, factory records, etc. If any such evidence were to come to light and be agreed upon by the more knowledgeable vintage researchers, I would be very interested to hear of it. So far, I have heard of no such evidence.

    The Slingerland I took apart bore no internal resemblance to a Gibson product. And the several styles of braces that Gibson used in their early 20th century instruments are all very recognizable.

    I'm going to trust the guys who have taken these things apart. And the majority of them seem to be pretty much in agreement that Slingerland did at least the bulk of their own work.

    And if I suggested to George Gruhn that Gibson made anything for Slingerland, he would just shake his head.

  10. #33
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: May Bell mandolin on Pottstown PA craigslist

    Thanks for maintaining the Slingerland site Dave. It is a great resource.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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