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Thread: Metal Mandolins

  1. #1

    Default Metal Mandolins

    Anyone own a metal mandolin? Whadaya think? Hows it sound? They look pretty cool.

  2. #2
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Metal Mandolins

    I own two: an aluminum-bodied, wood-topped Merrill bowl-back from the early 1900's, and a steel-bodied National Triolian resonator instrument from the 1930's. Very different instruments, obviously. The Merrill sounds pretty much like a wood-bodied bowl-back; you don't hear metallic overtones when it's played. The National sounds like a cross between a "regular" mandolin and a National resonator guitar: aggressive, metallic, loud, brash and unsubtle. Some of this is due to the fact that it's a biscuit-bridge resonator instrument, since most of these are loud and quite metallic-sounding, but I have a National Havana wood-bodied resonator guitar, with the same type of bridge and resonator, and it's noticeably "smoother" sounding than either my Style 0 brass-bodied National guitar, or the Triolian mandolin. So I would attribute at least part of the difference to metal vs. wooden bodies.

    Not sure what kind of "cool looking" metal mandolins you've been looking at, but if they're the brass-bodied, nickel-or-chrome-plated Asian resonator mandolins, often labeled Johnson, Republic or Recording King, in my experience they are quite loud and a bit harsh-sounding. Just my 2.
    Allen Hopkins
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  4. #3

    Default Re: Metal Mandolins

    Yes, Allen, I’ve been lookin’ at the Recording Kings and wondering if I’d like one. I’d really like a National guitar, but I don’t play guitar, only tenors.

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  6. #4
    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Metal Mandolins

    National made a lot of tenor guitars. I have a 1932 Triolian tenor and it is a beast!
    Charley

    A bunch of stuff with four strings

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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Metal Mandolins

    I have a '29 National single cone style 1. Very shiny still after all these years and sounds great. Some photos:
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    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Metal Mandolins



    I was wondering if the OP was referring to the aluminum bowlbacks. Some were all metal, some were part wood.

    Quote Originally Posted by allenhopkins View Post
    I own two: an aluminum-bodied, wood-topped Merrill bowl-back from the early 1900's,
    I've seen and played a bit on the wood-top aluminum bowlbacks; the owner of a music store I worked for owned a couple.

    And an aluminum cello, too.

    https://www.lucassobieranski.com/german-mandolins

    Interesting article about them



    https://www.worthpoint.com/worthoped...ack-1917086075

    All metal...


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  10. #7

    Default Re: Metal Mandolins

    No, David, I’m mostly interested in the Recording Kings.

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    Default Re: Metal Mandolins

    Quote Originally Posted by Picking Dick View Post
    No, David, I’m mostly interested in the Recording Kings.
    Ah, metal resonator mandolins...first cousin to the dobro.

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    Default Re: Metal Mandolins

    Quote Originally Posted by Picking Dick View Post
    Anyone own a metal mandolin? Whadaya think? How’s it sound? They look pretty cool.
    Not a mandolin response, but a man in our music group plays a metal guitar and I think the sound produced is not good ! Loud though !
    My two favorite pastimes are drinking wine and playing the mandolin but most of my friends would rather hear me drink wine! Adapted from quote by Mark Twain------supposedly !

  14. #10
    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Question Re: Metal Mandolins

    The Recording Kings are Asian Imported copy of an old metal National , so wont cost much to buy one, & find out, 1st hand..



    US Made National RM1 is a National Metal Resonator in a nice Hardwood Body, and will cost substantially more..
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  15. #11

    Default Re: Metal Mandolins

    When I was in college, a friend bought a metal string bass at an antique shop. Pretty poor sound, but it was weatherproof.

  16. #12
    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Metal Mandolins

    Quote Originally Posted by Picking Dick View Post
    No, David, I’m mostly interested in the Recording Kings.
    https://www.recordingking.com/ra998

    Like this one?



    I've played on several, they are a decent reproduction of vintage style instruments.

    Quote Originally Posted by yankees1 View Post
    Not a mandolin response, but a man in our music group plays a metal guitar and I think the sound produced is not good ! Loud though !
    Resonator string instruments, the best known being the dobro, a spider cone resonator guitar set up for steel playing, have a unique tone color. They are somewhat loud, and noticeably more "metallic" in tone than instruments with a wooden soundboard.

    It will never sound like an F model nor a bowlback. It will have a useful and interesting tone for blues, Dixieland, early swing, etc.

    Personally I think they work well in a blues or jazz-influenced jug band setting. The instrument pictured has a biscuit-cone resonator.

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  18. #13
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Metal Mandolins

    Quote Originally Posted by David L View Post
    When I was in college, a friend bought a metal string bass at an antique shop. Pretty poor sound, but it was weatherproof.
    I have an aluminum string bass -- unlabeled, but from construction details I tentatively ID it as a pre-WWII Pfretzschner. Fine for string/dance band work.

    I have heard, and dunno if it's true, that the Recording King Chinese-made, brass-bodied resonator mandolins. such as DavidKOS depicts, have somewhat better resonator cones than the Johnson and Republic instruments, though they have identical bodies. And they're quite affordable. Having said that, I've played Johnson reso mandolins a couple times, and the main acoustical virtue I found in them is that they're really loud. From an esthetic viewpoint, some are quite nicely plated and engraved.

    Stuart Wailing in the UK makes a variety of resonator instruments, including mandolins. Couldn't find a website, but a bunch of Facebook and Pinterest hits. I shared a Celtic jam once with a Wailing player, but he never played melody, so I can't really report my impressions -- other than it was pretty loud chording, like most other of these biscuit-bridge instruments.
    Allen Hopkins
    Gibsn: '54 F5 3pt F2 A-N Custm K1 m'cello
    Natl Triolian Dobro mando
    Victoria b-back Merrill alumnm b-back
    H-O mandolinetto
    Stradolin Vega banjolin
    Sobell'dola Washburn b-back'dola
    Eastmn: 615'dola 805 m'cello
    Flatiron 3K OM

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  20. #14

    Default Re: Metal Mandolins

    Well, since I live in an apartment and most of the comments mentioned the word “loud”, I guess I won’t be getting one. I like it’s looks and the idea of it, but I make enough noise as it is.

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  22. #15
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    Default Re: Metal Mandolins

    I have a National RM-1, and it’s probably the most dynamic mandolin I have owned. Yes, it can be loud and brash, and I particularly love it for those times when that’s what I need/want. But, it also sounds very good played lightly/quietly. I can play it in the same room with my family/dogs without any more complaints than I normally get with mando/guitar, but it does require some attention to right hand technique to do so.

    The only all metal one I played was a Johnson, and it was nasty. All the bluesy grit without any of the refinement of my RM-1...hence the price difference...

    But, yeah, maybe not the best idea if you want happy neighbors, lol!
    Chuck

  23. #16
    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Default Re: Metal Mandolins

    Hanging drapery covering the walls can absorb the high frequencies.. it's the bass notes that carry.

    as any drive by with car sub woofers will demonstrate
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  24. #17

    Default Re: Metal Mandolins

    Quote Originally Posted by Picking Dick View Post
    No, David, Im mostly interested in the Recording Kings.
    I had a Republic Mandolian, which I believe uses the same body as the Recording King and Johnson. The key difference is the Republic has an adjustable truss rod, the others don't so warping and playable action can become problematic.

    Other than that, the biscuit bridges are the weak spot. Everyone recommends getting an expensive replacement cone, but the ones that ship with the Asian builds are as good as any The trick is to replace the soft rosewood bridge with a traditional maple/ebony, which is rock solid and transfers string vibrations to the cone much butter. Night and day difference.

    Mine was "reso-relic" so it has a matte finish. I've hear that the glossy finishes are difficult to keep clean and can cause sunburns in the strangest places when used outside due to reflections.

    I like the longer 15" scale and wider fret-board. They're rough-and-tumble-beasts, but lots of fun when you get a player.

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