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Thread: Need Help Identifying Strange Mandolin

  1. #1

    Default Need Help Identifying Strange Mandolin

    https://imgur.com/a/ZGAUVtZ

    Any help would be appreciated. I just bought this and can't find anything on it, or even anything about this shape.

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Need Help Identifying Strange Mandolin

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    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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  4. #3
    Registered User slimt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Need Help Identifying Strange Mandolin

    To me. By the looks of the carved back. It looks like it could be German made. Like the Roger guitars back in the day. That looks pretty cool.

  5. #4
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    Default Re: Need Help Identifying Strange Mandolin

    Doesn’t look that old. Possibly an amateur build by a competent woodworker? The neck is too short for the body. The bridge looks to be in the right place but it’s too far up the body.

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    Default Re: Need Help Identifying Strange Mandolin

    I am not sure that is a mandolin. There are several South American instruments that have four double courses of strings and simaler shapes.

  7. #6
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Need Help Identifying Strange Mandolin

    I suspect the bridge was not original to the instrument but I guess it could be. The F holes are really rough.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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    Default Re: Need Help Identifying Strange Mandolin

    When I first saw it, it made me think of a Puerto Rican cuatro, but the shape isn't quite right and it's one course short.
    It looks more like a stretched Martin style 2-20.

  9. #8
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Need Help Identifying Strange Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by Ray(T) View Post
    Doesn’t look that old. Possibly an amateur build by a competent woodworker? The neck is too short for the body. The bridge looks to be in the right place but it’s too far up the body.
    I agree with Ray(T). Amateur build. Te guy may have built a violin or two. As for the comment about the neck? I say the body is too long for the neck. Joins at 10th fret but the scale (I am guessing) is probably within mandolin range. I don't think it is a South American instrument.
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  10. #9

    Default Re: Need Help Identifying Strange Mandolin

    I was wondering what the green thing is, and how much resonance (tunable or not) could be obtained from the strings on the ‘wrong’ side of the bridge.

  11. #10
    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Need Help Identifying Strange Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by Simon DS View Post
    I was wondering what the green thing is, and how much resonance (tunable or not) could be obtained from the strings on the ‘wrong’ side of the bridge.
    I often put a piece of material to kill the resonance between the bridge and tailpiece. It's just a string damper.

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  13. #11

    Default Re: Need Help Identifying Strange Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by DavidKOS View Post
    I often put a piece of material to kill the resonance between the bridge and tailpiece. It's just a string damper.
    Yeah, it's just a piece of felt to keep the strings off the body.

  14. #12

    Default Re: Need Help Identifying Strange Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    I agree with Ray(T). Amateur build. Te guy may have built a violin or two. As for the comment about the neck? I say the body is too long for the neck. Joins at 10th fret but the scale (I am guessing) is probably within mandolin range. I don't think it is a South American instrument.
    This adds up. I live in Southwest Virginia and there is a ton of bluegrass fiddle/guitar/mandolin playing and likely some fiddle/guitar/mandolin making around here. When I picked it up from the guy, he told me it wasn't mass produced, but not much else. Then i had it in my front seat and went through a drive through and the older lady working the first window asked if i played. I told her i just picked it up to practice on and had never seen a mandolin this shape. She said "I have, but it's been a long time."

    Sounds like this could be a local product that shows a luthier skill set from making fiddles and maybe mountain dulcimers.

  15. #13
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Need Help Identifying Strange Mandolin

    My only problem with that story is the slot head tuners. The tailpiece is a common US product, he had to work to get those tuners. I'll be honest, if I bumped into that and the price was right I would have bought it just because it's got a certain cool factor.
    Last edited by MikeEdgerton; Sep-21-2020 at 10:01am.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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  17. #14
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Need Help Identifying Strange Mandolin

    Could you post a picture of the tuning machines from the side?

    That double nut makes me wonder if this neck had a zero fret at one time.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  18. #15

    Default Re: Need Help Identifying Strange Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeEdgerton View Post
    My only problem with that story is the slot head tuners. The tailpiece is a common US product, he had to work to get those tuners. I'll be honest, if I bumped into that and the price was right I would have bought it just because it's got a certain cool factor.
    I'm with you, what's going on from the nut up keeps me from settling on that story. The tuner style and nut material match a few Mexican made instruments i have seen.

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  19. #16
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Need Help Identifying Strange Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by skitfin View Post
    I'm with you, what's going on from the nut up keeps me from settling on that story. The tuner style and nut material match a few Mexican made instruments i have seen.

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    OK, I suspect that it might have been made in Mexico or at least the neck. The tuners look decent but they just aren't real common in the US. Maybe someone can ID those. I can't. Whoever built it was ambitious but not real clean in their execution.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  20. #17
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Need Help Identifying Strange Mandolin

    Have you looked inside with a dental mirror and flashlight for markings?
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  21. #18
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Need Help Identifying Strange Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeEdgerton View Post
    I'll be honest, if I bumped into that and the price was right I would have bought it just because it's got a certain cool factor.
    Absolutely.
    Having something to say is highly over rated.

    The entire staff
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  22. #19

    Default Re: Need Help Identifying Strange Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeEdgerton View Post
    Have you looked inside with a dental mirror and flashlight for markings?
    I'll have to get myself a dental mirror.

    I bought thiis as a modest investment to flip. I'm in the process of moving and shouldn't be acquiring new things. This weirdo mandolin will likely end up on Reverb before too long.

  23. #20
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Need Help Identifying Strange Mandolin

    Please put it up on the Mandolin Café classifieds. I don't really want to do business with anyone else.
    Having something to say is highly over rated.

    The entire staff
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  24. #21

    Default Re: Need Help Identifying Strange Mandolin

    Those double dots were used on Ermelinda Silvestri guitars in the 1950s- possibly other Catania made instruments. I am not suggesting this mandolin was made in Catania but it may have been made by someone from Sicily.

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  25. #22
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Need Help Identifying Strange Mandolin

    If it was made in Italy all would make sense except for that Waverly tailpiece. The dots could certainly be a connection or at least an influence. If I bought this I would make myself crazy trying to clean up the F holes.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  26. #23
    Full Grown and Cussin' brunello97's Avatar
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    Default Re: Need Help Identifying Strange Mandolin

    Not much about this suggests Catanese or Sicilian build. The double dots are a red herring. Though Silvestri at least used them on this mandolin.
    Mick
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  27. #24

    Default Re: Need Help Identifying Strange Mandolin

    I wrote that it might have been made by someone from Sicily and by that I meant an emigrant to the USA as that cloud tailpiece suggests it was made in North America but those tuners are a bit of a mystery. The double dots are a stylistic device that Silvestri used in the 1950s and suggest perhaps an era when this mandolin was made but overall I agree there's very little to go on that can make any real headway to discovering its true origin.

  28. #25

    Default Re: Need Help Identifying Strange Mandolin

    I now see that inside the body, up at the neck, written in ball point pen is "Dan Fitzer, Sept. 1970".

    I can find no record of a luthier named Dan Fitzer.

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