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Thread: Old Mandolin

  1. #1

    Default Old Mandolin

    I have an old mandolin in pretty sad shape. Inside has a tag that says it is "The Crown Guitars and Mandolins. ET Root & Sons, Chicago". Just wondering if it's worth anything or if I should just toss. Thanks for any info...
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  2. #2
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Old Mandolin

    Very few bowlback mandolins are worth any sort of large sums of money. Yours apparently has had some less than common repairs. You might be able to salvage a few dollars by selling the mandolin as a project for parts. The tailpiece is pretty common but the tuners might buy you a nice lunch.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Old Mandolin

    Those are the same tuners that Gibson used on their oval hole mandolins from 1910 through the early 1920's. Many thousands of those mandolins are still in use, and there is a market for those tuners. As a result, they have a bit of value; perhaps around $50. Two of the screws for the gears have been replaced, otherwise they would be worth somewhat more.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Old Mandolin

    Thank you for the info!! I appreciate it

  5. #5
    Full Grown and Cussin' brunello97's Avatar
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    Default Re: Old Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeEdgerton View Post
    ....Yours apparently has had some less than common repairs.....
    Ace.

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  7. #6
    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Old Mandolin

    How is the neck? Is the action comfortable to play? just curious....

  8. #7

    Default Re: Old Mandolin

    I'm sorry but I don't know how to play it so I can't answer the question about it being comfortable to play.

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  10. #8
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Old Mandolin

    My own experience with bowlbacks (generalize at your own risk) is that I look at the neck joint first. If there is anything wonky or amiss or any evidence of repair, I don't bother to look at the rest of the instrument. The times I have ignored my own advice in this regard have been disasters. In some cases very pretty disasters. One of them hung on my wall for years with artificial flowers artfully "growing" out of its sound hole.
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  11. #9
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Old Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by JeffD View Post
    My own experience with bowlbacks (generalize at your own risk) is that I look at the neck joint first. If there is anything wonky or amiss or any evidence of repair, I don't bother to look at the rest of the instrument...
    What do you think about this one?
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    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  12. #10
    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Old Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by JeffD View Post
    My own experience with bowlbacks (generalize at your own risk) is that I look at the neck joint first. If there is anything wonky or amiss or any evidence of repair, I don't bother to look at the rest of the instrument.
    Quote Originally Posted by MikeEdgerton View Post
    What do you think about this one?
    It looks like a very rough home repair - which is why I asked about the playability, as that repair is a red flag, as JeffD pointed out correctly.

    Since you are not a player, perhaps you could take a picture of the side of the neck by the neck joint so we could see how high the strings are off the fingerboard.

  13. #11
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Old Mandolin

    Actually the neck can be bowed beyond your ability to press down the strings and the neck joint can be solid as a rock. This one I would run from except for the tuners.

    Getting back to the label E.T. Root and Sons is in the Mugwumps Encyclopedia as being active in Chicago circa 1902. The Crown brand name is attributed to them in the same time frame. I don't know if they were a builder or a distributor but that crown logo looks kind of like another logo that was active about the same time.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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  15. #12
    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Old Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeEdgerton View Post
    Actually the neck can be bowed beyond your ability to press down the strings and the neck joint can be solid as a rock.
    Mike, that's why I wanted to know the real string height at the 12th fret. Like you, I've seen too many bowlbacks with a solid neck to body connection - but the neck and block had shifted enough to ruin the action, or the neck itself was bowed - or both.

    Also, what happened to all the fets above the 7th? No money above the 7th fret?

    An the bridge is WAY too close to the tailpiece, it needs to be around the break in the top.

  16. #13
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Old Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by DavidKOS View Post
    Mike, that's why I wanted to know the real string height at the 12th fret. Like you, I've seen too many bowlbacks with a solid neck to body connection - but the neck and block had shifted enough to ruin the action, or the neck itself was bowed - or both.

    Also, what happened to all the fets above the 7th? No money above the 7th fret?

    An the bridge is WAY too close to the tailpiece, it needs to be around the break in the top.
    I wondered why you didn't mention the bridge position before asking for side view. Too much reptile dentistry on this one.

    Here's a blowup of just the fretboard—possibly repaved with asphalt?

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  18. #14

    Default Re: Old Mandolin

    Here are a couple more pics. But based on the info in the thread, I'll just probably put it on eBay and see if anyone wants the tuners. The mandolin itself seems beyond repair. I think the entire neck was broken off at one point in its life...
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  19. #15
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Old Mandolin

    Yeah, that middle picture is all telling. It's not playable. If you move the bridge to the correct position that action is way north of manly.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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  21. #16
    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Old Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    I wondered why you didn't mention the bridge position before asking for side view.
    just the order I typed them

    Quote Originally Posted by Kae View Post
    Here are a couple more pics. But based on the info in the thread, I'll just probably put it on eBay and see if anyone wants the tuners. The mandolin itself seems beyond repair. I think the entire neck was broken off at one point in its life...
    It's not playable at all.

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeEdgerton View Post
    Yeah, that middle picture is all telling. It's not playable. If you move the bridge to the correct position that action is way north of manly.
    Mike's right, no way to get that to play.

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