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Thread: Lyon & Healy vs Gibson

  1. #1
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    Default Lyon & Healy vs Gibson

    Hi All.
    I am interested in making a two-pointer along the lines of a Lyon & Healy. Other than finding a reral one to study (which I can't afford) I have managed to find very little about the L&H except that, body shape apart, they are very different in construction to Gibsons. I have so far found out that the tops are thinner, the arch higher and the neck angle lower.
    It's not that I want to copy a L&H but I would like to try to understand the principles behind their construction and the differences with the Gibsons.
    I am not sure that I understand how a higher arch can be achieved with a lower neck angle - unless the upstand at the neck/body joint is higher.
    Can somebody enlighten me please?

    Thanks

  2. #2
    Mandolin & Mandola maker
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    Default Re: Lyon & Healy vs Gibson

    Well it is higher. You really need to get an original into your hands and study it closely, there are lots of details that will have you saying oh so that is how they did it. They are challenging mandolins to make, especially the two points with the headstock scroll, which is probably why very few copies have been made. When carving, the top and backs are so thin that there is no room for error. The bindings are also tricky because there is no riser block. Then there is that tailpiece and the carved pickguard without which it would not really be a copy. The scroll headstock requires custom tuners to be made and I passed on that because of the cost involved, so mine do not have the scroll. Reproducing the tailpiece is another challenge that I outsourced to a silversmith who made a modified version that works brilliantly, but was not cheap, nor easy. Matching the colours and the varnish finish will take a lot of trial and error. Good luck. Get it right and they sound wonderful. Sweetest sounding mandolins I have ever made.

    If you have any more questions, ask here.

    Here is one of mine. This one has a Gidgee pickguard, normally I use Ebony, the originals used vulcanized fiber.

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    Peter Coombe - mandolins, mandolas and guitars
    http://www.petercoombe.com

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  4. #3
    Timothy Tim Logan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lyon & Healy vs Gibson

    If you very carefully scroll down this link (after the section on condition rating nomenclature for instruments), you will find observations by the owner's of the big vintage dealers (Gruhn, Elderly, Mandolin Brothers, Carter, etc) about the L&H Model A-C. It offers an interesting insight into these absolutely fabulous instruments. I think (but could definitely be wrong - sift through the thread mentioned in the next post) that Peter Coombe is the only modern builder who has actually duplicated the original L&H construction (vs copying the look) - a hugely impressive accomplishment!!! It would be a thrill to have one of his mandolins in hand.

    http://www.mandozine.com/instruments/VDRT/index.html

    I imagine you have it, but this book by Hubert Pleijsier is a great background source for Washburn instruments (the bible):

    https://books.google.com/books/about...kp_read_button
    Last edited by Tim Logan; Oct-15-2020 at 6:46pm.

    “There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats.” ― Albert Schweitzer

    1925 Lyon & Healy Model A, #1674
    2015 Collings A (MT2-V)
    2018 Carlo Mazzaccara Lucia
    2020 Burgin Shanghai Octave Mandolin - in progress

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  6. #4
    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Lyon & Healy vs Gibson

    A previous discussion on L & H mandolins here.....

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/t...wo-point-plans
    Charley

    A bunch of stuff with four strings

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  8. #5

    Default Re: Lyon & Healy vs Gibson

    Several years ago, Pete Langdell (of Rigel Instruments fame) built a L + H style A reproduction that included the violin scroll and custom tail piece. It is a very fine and faithful repro that went to Marilyn Mair. http://www.rigelinstruments.com/custom.shtml I wish the photos were more detailed but this pic will give you some idea of the level of building mastery that Pete possesses.

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    Len B.
    Clearwater, FL

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  10. #6
    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lyon & Healy vs Gibson

    Pete also made an L&H-style mandola for Jamie Masefield, didn't he?
    Emando.com: More than you wanted to know about electric mandolins.

    Notorious: My Celtic CD--listen & buy!

    Lyon & Healy • Wood • Thormahlen • Andersen • Bacorn • Yanuziello • Fender • National • Gibson • Franke • Fuchs • Aceto • Three Hungry Pit Bulls

  11. #7
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lyon & Healy vs Gibson

    Quote Originally Posted by lenf12 View Post
    Several years ago, Pete Langdell (of Rigel Instruments fame) built a L + H style A reproduction that included the violin scroll and custom tail piece. It is a very fine and faithful repro that went to Marilyn Mair.
    I don't know for a fact that Marilynn *doesn't* own a Rigel L&H model but the one I know of that she has played for years was built for her by Doug Woodley ( a Canadian luthier who no longer builds). It didn't have the scroll headstock. She talks about it here. Picture below.

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    I know this is not the point of your post. I actually contacted Peter as a possible restorer to my earlier L&H. He does do excellent work.
    Jim

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  13. #8

    Default Re: Lyon & Healy vs Gibson

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    I don't know for a fact that Marilynn *doesn't* own a Rigel L&H model but the one I know of that she has played for years was built for her by Doug Woodley ( a Canadian luthier who no longer builds). It didn't have the scroll headstock. She talks about it here. Picture below.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    I know this is not the point of your post. I actually contacted Peter as a possible restorer to my earlier L&H. He does do excellent work.
    Thanks for the link to MM's article Jim. She makes interesting comments on the differences between her L + H and the Doug Woodley build. His building is sadly missed for sure. My memories of the Rigel reproduction may have gotten confused lo' these many years since moving to FL and away from the New England mandolin scene. She may have had dibs on the Rigel but went with Doug's instead. But for Covid-19, I would get back up north more often. Cheers!!

    Len B.
    Clearwater, FL

  14. #9
    Registered User Hendrik Ahrend's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lyon & Healy vs Gibson

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeremy A View Post
    Hi All.
    I am interested in making a two-pointer along the lines of a Lyon & Healy. Other than finding a real one to study (which I can't afford) I have managed to find very little about the L&H except that, body shape apart, they are very different in construction to Gibsons. I have so far found out that the tops are thinner, the arch higher and the neck angle lower.
    It's not that I want to copy a L&H but I would like to try to understand the principles behind their construction and the differences with the Gibsons.
    I am not sure that I understand how a higher arch can be achieved with a neck angle - unless the upstand at the neck/body joint is higher.
    Can somebody enlighten me please?

    Thanks
    Jeremy, up until a few months ago, I had a super nice sounding L&H Style C (c. 1920; long scale) and found that the top thickness was, indeed, less than my Gibson oval hole F4 (measured with a Hacklinger gauge). However, the thickness was quite similar to the top of my 1924 Loar F5, especially around the minimum and center areas.

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