Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 25 of 33

Thread: May Bell mandolin on Pottstown PA craigslist

  1. #1
    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Saint Augustine Beach FL
    Posts
    4,919

    Default May Bell mandolin on Pottstown PA craigslist

    I was looking for an inexpensive mandolin to keep at my brothers house in North Wales PA
    for the times my wife and I go up to visit. I saw this May Bell mandolin in Pottstown, not too far from N Wales. We will be flying up next week and I was wondering if this might be a fair price if it is in good, playable shape.

    https://reading.craigslist.org/msg/d...178358118.html

    The F-holes remind me of the the Kalamazoo mandolins by Gibson.

    Any thoughts appreciated.
    Charley

    A bunch of stuff with four strings

  2. #2
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    High Peak - UK
    Posts
    2,942

    Default Re: May Bell mandolin on Pottstown PA craigslist

    Doesn’t look “nearly 100 years old” to me!

  3. #3
    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Saint Augustine Beach FL
    Posts
    4,919

    Default Re: May Bell mandolin on Pottstown PA craigslist

    Hopefully Jamie will not jump on it.
    Charley

    A bunch of stuff with four strings

  4. #4

    Default Re: May Bell mandolin on Pottstown PA craigslist

    Quote Originally Posted by Charles E. View Post
    I was looking for an inexpensive mandolin to keep at my brothers house in North Wales PA
    for the times my wife and I go up to visit. I saw this May Bell mandolin in Pottstown, not too far from N Wales. We will be flying up next week and I was wondering if this might be a fair price if it is in good, playable shape.

    https://reading.craigslist.org/msg/d...178358118.html

    The F-holes remind me of the the Kalamazoo mandolins by Gibson.

    Any thoughts appreciated.
    I went down the rabbit hole hole on Slingerland mandolins recently and it turns out that they probably and most likely but don't quote me on this, produced the Maybell line of mandolins as well.

    I've had a few Maybell guitars go across my workbench, one of them was a spectacular mahogany oval Hole archtop guitar and the other one was a not so much and probably Regal made guitar shaped object.


    So this mandolin you're looking at could be spectacular or it could be one of those mass-produced instruments that were so common in the 30s.

    I think it's worth a look, seems to be in excellent shape anyway.

  5. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to Tony on the Coast For This Useful Post:


  6. #5
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    40.1646 N, 74.2083 W
    Posts
    24,117

    Default Re: May Bell mandolin on Pottstown PA craigslist

    May-Bell was a Slingerland brand name and even though these look a whole lot like the Harmony mandolins built in the same era they were indeed built by Slingerland in Chicago. If that was close to me I would buy it in a heartbeat at that price. I put it in the 30's.

    You can see it on the catalog page here.

    The entire Slingerland Guitar site is here.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  7. The following members say thank you to MikeEdgerton for this post:


  8. #6

    Default Re: May Bell mandolin on Pottstown PA craigslist

    Great site, Mike! I know Slingerland is considered one of the very first companies to make an electric guitar with a Spanish style neck, 1930's, I believe.

    I had a small 30's May-Bell flat top guitar that I liked a lot. Like an idiot I got rid of it thinking it was taking up too much space......

  9. #7
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    DeKalb, IL
    Posts
    3,528

    Default Re: May Bell mandolin on Pottstown PA craigslist

    Dave Kolars (DK), the owner of the Slingerland site, is a close friend here in DeKalb. I recently converted one of his Slingerland guitars to a lefty for a mutual friend in Ohio. Anyway, I just sent him a link to this discussion and asked if he wanted to weigh in. I personally think that that mandolin looks really clean and that price seems good.

  10. The following members say thank you to Dale Ludewig for this post:


  11. #8
    Teacher, luthier
    Join Date
    Oct 2017
    Location
    Southeast Tennessee
    Posts
    1,950

    Default Re: May Bell mandolin on Pottstown PA craigslist

    I had a black May Bell mandolin go across my workbench a few years back. It was otherwise more or less similar to the craigslist mandolin.
    It was all solid wood. The top was X braced, and the back was pressed and arched over a form rather than carved. It was certainly a decent instrument. The quality of the construction was a bit better than that of a Kalamazoo mandolin.
    I should also mention that the instrument was in my shop because the X-brace and back braces were loose and had to be re-glued.

    In answer to your question about price, yes, $250 is certainly fair, at least if the braces are tight, the neck is reasonably straight, and the frets are in good condition.
    Last edited by rcc56; Sep-06-2020 at 10:36am.

  12. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to rcc56 For This Useful Post:


  13. #9

    Default Re: May Bell mandolin on Pottstown PA craigslist

    The mandolin has an old "soft" case which looks to be in good shape and not beaten up and this suggests that the mandolin has been in that case and stashed away for most of its life. It does not appear to have had a hard life but over 85 odd years things can go awry- braces can become unglued and necks can warp but ostensibly, it looks like it could be an excellent buy.

  14. #10
    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Saint Augustine Beach FL
    Posts
    4,919

    Default Re: May Bell mandolin on Pottstown PA craigslist

    I just got an email from the seller, he already has a buyer and the sale is pending. Well I guess I saved $250.oo on a mandolin I would only get to play twice a year when visiting my brother.

    Thanks for all the replies!
    Charley

    A bunch of stuff with four strings

  15. #11
    Registered User nmiller's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Rocky Hill, CT
    Posts
    339

    Default Re: May Bell mandolin on Pottstown PA craigslist

    These were not built by Slingerland; the only stringed instruments they ever built were banjos. These were built by Regal.
    www.OldFrets.com: the obscure side of vintage instruments.

  16. The following members say thank you to nmiller for this post:


  17. #12
    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Saint Augustine Beach FL
    Posts
    4,919

    Default Re: May Bell mandolin on Pottstown PA craigslist

    I would love to see proof of this. Does that mean that Mike's example of a Slingerland catalog featuring mandolins is false?
    Charley

    A bunch of stuff with four strings

  18. #13
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    DeKalb, IL
    Posts
    3,528

    Default Re: May Bell mandolin on Pottstown PA craigslist

    I need to correct something I said earlier. The guitar I converted to a leftie was a May Bell, not a Slingerland. My error. However, to my knowledge, Slingerland made them.

  19. #14
    Registered User nmiller's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Rocky Hill, CT
    Posts
    339

    Default Re: May Bell mandolin on Pottstown PA craigslist

    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?
    No, of course the catalog isn't false. Regal built them for Slingerland like they did for so many other brands, and almost none of those brands mentioned the real manufacturer, either. These mandolins have the same body shape, bracing, heel design, etc. as other Regals, albeit with a customized headstock. There are even some out there with the early-style Regal f-holes (used prior to ca. 1935), though most (like the one in the original post) have the later-style, smaller f-holes. There is some evidence that Slingerland carried out repairs to guitars and mandolins in their own factory; I'm not sure how extensive this work was.
    Last edited by nmiller; Sep-08-2020 at 6:09am.
    www.OldFrets.com: the obscure side of vintage instruments.

  20. The following members say thank you to nmiller for this post:


  21. #15
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    40.1646 N, 74.2083 W
    Posts
    24,117

    Default Re: May Bell mandolin on Pottstown PA craigslist

    Bob Carlin's Regal Book was a real eye opener for me as to what they actually could and would manufacture. Up until that point I actually didn't think they could delve into the high end instruments that they built and that in many cases instruments they built were attributed to other builders. With that said, I have an open mind. I went back ten years in threads about Slingerland and May-Bell and the question that's always asked and never answered is "can you show me an example?" but then there's never an example shown. Assuming the instrument manufacturers in Chicago were intertwined in work force and suppliers and many times apparently bought from the same jobbers you could assume that anyone with money could have set up a shop in Chicago over that time period and found a trained work force. Work with me here, show us some examples that prove this was made by Regal. I can accept it if I can see it. I get it that they didn't make the exact headstock. There are certainly going to be other traits on their mandolins that show up. Show us what they are. That should be fairly easy for someone with access to the catalogs.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  22. #16
    Registered User nmiller's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Rocky Hill, CT
    Posts
    339

    Default Re: May Bell mandolin on Pottstown PA craigslist

    Sure. The old f-holes:

    Name:  100_0032..jpg
Views: 165
Size:  8.4 KBClick image for larger version. 

Name:	ymvahhxn8gt6qbfogozr.jpg 
Views:	11 
Size:	260.2 KB 
ID:	188420

    The heel:

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	01313_5ZKWULrQBBw_0CI0pM_600x450.jpg 
Views:	11 
Size:	21.3 KB 
ID:	188421Click image for larger version. 

Name:	regalmando04.jpg 
Views:	11 
Size:	62.6 KB 
ID:	188422

    There's also the bridge saddle design and oversized thumbwheels:

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	DSC00334.JPG 
Views:	15 
Size:	48.6 KB 
ID:	188423Click image for larger version. 

Name:	00X0X_jw9avdztIND_0CI0pM_1200x900.jpg 
Views:	10 
Size:	75.5 KB 
ID:	188424

    And the bakelite pickguard, of the same material that Regal used on some of the Bacon-branded instruments:

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Baco-M-Senorita-1933-BF.jpg 
Views:	7 
Size:	153.6 KB 
ID:	188425
    www.OldFrets.com: the obscure side of vintage instruments.

  23. The following members say thank you to nmiller for this post:


  24. #17

    Default Re: May Bell mandolin on Pottstown PA craigslist

    I have to admit, that my three archtop Regal mandolins do not have a heel like this Slingerland mandolin. One of them is in this link- it is mid to late 30s and you can see the heel which is the same on all three. https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/t...F-hole-archtop

  25. The following members say thank you to NickR for this post:


  26. #18
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    40.1646 N, 74.2083 W
    Posts
    24,117

    Default Re: May Bell mandolin on Pottstown PA craigslist

    Quote Originally Posted by nmiller View Post
    Sure. The old f-holes:

    Name:  100_0032..jpg
Views: 165
Size:  8.4 KBClick image for larger version. 

Name:	ymvahhxn8gt6qbfogozr.jpg 
Views:	11 
Size:	260.2 KB 
ID:	188420

    The heel:

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	01313_5ZKWULrQBBw_0CI0pM_600x450.jpg 
Views:	11 
Size:	21.3 KB 
ID:	188421Click image for larger version. 

Name:	regalmando04.jpg 
Views:	11 
Size:	62.6 KB 
ID:	188422

    There's also the bridge saddle design and oversized thumbwheels:

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	DSC00334.JPG 
Views:	15 
Size:	48.6 KB 
ID:	188423Click image for larger version. 

Name:	00X0X_jw9avdztIND_0CI0pM_1200x900.jpg 
Views:	10 
Size:	75.5 KB 
ID:	188424

    And the bakelite pickguard, of the same material that Regal used on some of the Bacon-branded instruments:

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Baco-M-Senorita-1933-BF.jpg 
Views:	7 
Size:	153.6 KB 
ID:	188425
    I'm really struggling with this now. I'm not seeing anything there that remotely suggests a similarity. Oversized wheels and pickguard material isn't really what I'd call any sort of proof. They all bought from the same suppliers over the years. The heel shape, the shape of the end of the fretboard in some cases, dot placement, something. Are there any Regal A style mandolins with this shape F-hole? Guitars really are a different world. I'll be honest, I'd love to be able to prove that Regal made them. It just makes it easier for the future readers of the Cafe but I'm not seeing it here.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  27. #19
    Registered User nmiller's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Rocky Hill, CT
    Posts
    339

    Default Re: May Bell mandolin on Pottstown PA craigslist

    If you're not seeing it, then there's nothing more I can say.
    www.OldFrets.com: the obscure side of vintage instruments.

  28. #20
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    40.1646 N, 74.2083 W
    Posts
    24,117

    Default Re: May Bell mandolin on Pottstown PA craigslist

    Quote Originally Posted by nmiller View Post
    If you're not seeing it, then there's nothing more I can say.
    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?
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  29. #21
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    40.1646 N, 74.2083 W
    Posts
    24,117

    Default Re: May Bell mandolin on Pottstown PA craigslist

    For Posterity:
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

Name:	may-bell2.jpg 
Views:	10 
Size:	64.4 KB 
ID:	188428   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	may-bell1.jpg 
Views:	18 
Size:	75.5 KB 
ID:	188427   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	may-bell3.jpg 
Views:	11 
Size:	86.4 KB 
ID:	188429  

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	may-bell4.jpg 
Views:	11 
Size:	90.1 KB 
ID:	188430  
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  30. #22
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    40.1646 N, 74.2083 W
    Posts
    24,117

    Default Re: May Bell mandolin on Pottstown PA craigslist

    A past thread that discusses the origins is here.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  31. The following members say thank you to MikeEdgerton for this post:


  32. #23
    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Saint Augustine Beach FL
    Posts
    4,919

    Default Re: May Bell mandolin on Pottstown PA craigslist

    Mike, that is a fun read from 10 or 9 years ago, I forgot I was involved.

    It looks like the sale of the Pottstown May Bell might have fallen through, so I may still have a shot of getting it. I won't be able to inspect it till Saturday tho.
    Charley

    A bunch of stuff with four strings

  33. #24

    Default Re: May Bell mandolin on Pottstown PA craigslist

    This circa 1930 Regal Superior mandolin was sold on eBay recently- same heel as on my three.

    https://www.ebay.com/itm/Vintage-Veg...p2047675.l2557

  34. #25
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    40.1646 N, 74.2083 W
    Posts
    24,117

    Default Re: May Bell mandolin on Pottstown PA craigslist

    Quote Originally Posted by Charles E. View Post
    Mike, that is a fun read from 10 or 9 years ago, I forgot I was involved.

    It looks like the sale of the Pottstown May Bell might have fallen through, so I may still have a shot of getting it. I won't be able to inspect it till Saturday tho.
    It looks like a nice mandolin. Like I said, if I bumped into it I would buy it unless it has real issues.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •